CLEVELAND — It happened so fast, like one of those summer thunderstorms that can plunge a brilliant Midwest afternoon into darkness.
Five runs ahead and 10 outs away from a three-game sweep in Progressive Field, Angels starter Jerome Williams collapsed within a span of 10 pitches in the sixth inning Sunday, and the Angels lost to the Cleveland Indians, 6-5.
"It was kind of a shock, really," catcher Hank Conger said. "You give up one hit and you're pretty much cruising through five innings."
Williams retired 17 of the first 18 batters he faced, and the Angels had a 5-0 lead on the strength of Josh Hamilton's run-scoring single and Mark Trumbo's run-scoring fielder's choice in the first inning, Mike Trout's two-out, two-run single in the second and Kole Calhoun's run-scoring single in the fourth.
Williams struck out Lonnie Chisenhall and Drew Stubbs to open the sixth inning. He was pounding the strike zone, pitching aggressively and effectively.
"Up until that point, he looked like he was in total command," Manager Mike Scioscia said. "With two outs in the sixth, he just got fuzzy."
Michael Bourn singled and Nick Swisher hit a two-run home run to left-center field. Jason Kipnis walked and Mike Aviles, who replaced ejected shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera in the third inning, hit a two-run home run to left field to trim the Angels' lead to 5-4.
"You never know what's going to happen in this game," Williams said. "I pitched good for five innings, and that sixth inning came out of nowhere. I should have executed my pitches better."
Catcher Carlos Santana led off the seventh inning with a home run against J.C. Gutierrez to tie the score, 5-5, the first run given up in the series by an Angels bullpen that retired 18 of 20 Indians to that point.
Chisenhall walked with one out, Stubbs singled and Bourn hit a run-scoring single to left field against Nick Maronde for a 6-5 lead. The Indians held on to end at six games their losing streak, relievers Rich Hill, Matt Albers, Joe Smith and Chris Perez combining for 42/3 one-hit innings.
It marked the fourth time this season the Angels, who fell 14 games behind Texas in the American League West, lost a game in which they had a five-run lead and the major league-high 11th time they lost a game they led by at least three runs.
"That's disturbing," Scioscia said. "You're going to have your handful of tight games where you lose leads, and maybe one gets away when you're way ahead. But if we're going to have success, we have to hold leads."
Walk this way
Chris Iannetta is having what most would consider a down year, with a .218 average, six home runs, 12 doubles, 29 runs and 30 runs batted in.
But the catcher has distinguished himself in one area — his .362 on-base percentage, built primarily on 56 walks, is 144 points higher than his average, the largest differential of any major league player with at least 100 plate appearances.
"He's shown enough power to where teams respect that, and if they pitch on the fringes, he has a good eye and has taken his walks," Scioscia said. "His walk rate is incredible."
But could Iannetta's power be mitigated by his patience if, by looking for walks, he becomes passive at the plate?
"I haven't analyzed how many pitches he's taken for strikes or swung at," Scioscia said. "At first glance, when he swings the bat, it's usually a pitch over the plate, and when he takes, it's usually a ball. He's got a nice feel for the strike zone. I think he's OK."
Jason Vargas, out since June 18 because of a blood clot in his left armpit, threw in the bullpen Sunday and is expected to start in Tommy Hanson's spot Tuesday night. But that doesn't necessarily mean Hanson will be bumped from the rotation. Hanson could be pushed back, with Williams or Garrett Richards returning to the bullpen. … Center fielder Peter Bourjos, playing at triple-A Salt Lake as he recovers from a broken right wrist, will return this week but probably not Monday. "He's feeling better, but you want him to get some at-bats and to feel comfortable before you put him in a major league game," Scioscia said. … The Angels, who begin a four-game series Monday against the Yankees in New York, are 6-17 in their last 23 games, including playoffs, in the Bronx.
Twitter: @MikeDiGiovannaCopyright © 2015, CT Now