As the Angels slipped into fourth place in a season slipping toward oblivion, it just got away from them. The inning, and maybe the year.
Ernesto Frieri, the Angels’ closer, started the 10th inning. He did not finish it. He gave up five runs.
“When I do bad, it’s like ugly bad,” Frieri said. “It’s like ugly super bad.”
The inning, and maybe the year. The Minnesota Twins pounded the Angels for seven runs in the 10th inning of a 10-3 victory on Tuesday, four of those runs coming on the first career grand slam by Chris Herrmann, off Frieri.
“A little bit right down the middle,” Frieri said.
The Angels sank beneath the Seattle Mariners and into fourth place in the American League West. The Angels have not finished in fourth place since 1999.
They have scored 18 runs in the past eight games, their lowest total in any eight-game stretch this season.
They also endured one play that might sum up their season. The throw arrived at home plate in plenty of time. Hank Conger, the Angels’ catcher, set up for the swipe tag.He caught. He swiped. He missed.
With one out in the eighth inning and the score tied, 2-2, the Twins’ Justin Morneau singled. Ryan Doumit doubled to right-center, and Angels second baseman Howie Kendrick delivered a strong relay throw to home plate, albeit slightly off line.
The old-school catcher would have blocked the plate. The new-school catcher minimizes the risk of injury by setting up next to the plate and relying on the swipe tag.
Morneau slid wide of the plate, so wide that Conger swiped and missed. Morneau then sat up on his rear end, leaned over and touched the plate with his left hand, and gave the Twins a 3-2 lead.
“I tried to make a diving tag,” said Conger. “I knew it was going to be close.”
If Conger makes the tag, then the run the Angels score in the bottom of the ninth wins the game, rather than forces it into extra innings. Of course, J.B. Shuck could have won the game in the bottom of the ninth, but he grounded into a double play with the bases loaded and one out.
The Angels were hitless in nine at-bats with runners in scoring position Tuesday. They are 4 for 50 (.080) in that situation over the past seven games.
“We can’t sit there and live and die by the home run,” Angels Manager Mike Scioscia said.
Albert Pujols and Mark Trumbo each hit a home run. The Angels scored their other run on a bases-loaded walk.
Although the Angels' defense — the one with the most errors in the league — had a spotlight weakness, the Angels' bullpen did not distinguish itself either. Dane De La Rosa blew the lead in the seventh inning, Kevin Jepsen failed to hold the tie in the eighth and Frieri lost the game in the 10th.
Tommy Hanson got no decision, but he did deliver a solid performance in his return to the starting rotation.
In his first appearance in five weeks, Hanson tied a season high with eight strikeouts. He did it in 5 1/3 innings, giving up one run on four hits and no walks. He showed a 92-94 mph fastball, the first time the Angels have seen that consistently since they acquired him last winter.
“That’s the stuff we’ve been waiting to see,” Scioscia said.