video thumbnail

LAA@TB: Kendrick turns a double play in the second

ST. PETERSBURG -- Perhaps one can chalk up the Angels' latest offensive woes in a 5-0 loss to Rays lefty David Price, who has been one of the top arms in the game for quite some time and continued that dominance in a shutout on Tuesday night.

But the Angels, having dropped back-to-back games on four separate occasions through a 6-11 start, are in no mood for hat-tipping at this point.

They simply have to get right offensively.

They believe they will.

"I'm just not that far away from breaking this thing off, and this offense is not too far way, either," Albert Pujols said after going 0-for-4 and extending his homerless streak to 69 at-bats. "I keep telling the guys, 'It's going to be fun. Just keep fighting, keep pushing.' And I can't wait until it's the other way, believe me. Because it seems like every break is going the other way, and I can't wait until it goes [our] way, because it's going to be fun and everybody's going to enjoy it."

Right now, nobody on the Angels' side is enjoying much of anything.

Not starter Ervin Santana, who gave up a career-high four solo homers in five-plus innings, giving him a Major League-leading 10 on the year and putting him at 0-4 with a 7.23 ERA through his first four starts.

And not the offense, which came in ranked 10th in the American League in runs and tied for last in homers (11), then mustered only five hits and no runs against Price, losing for the fifth time in the last seven games.

To compile the last four Angels homers -- the same amount Desmond Jennings, Luke Scott, B.J. Upton and Carlos Pena hit in the first six frames against Santana -- one would have to go back 74 innings.

"Those guys just kept hitting their solo home runs, and [Price] knew what to do with a lead," manager Mike Scioscia said. "He really pounded the zone, and it wasn't just fastballs. He had four pitches he was throwing on any counts, and on off-counts, he was able to use some of his other pitches. That's a pretty good game he pitched."

The last home run the Rays gave up came April 18, by Jeff Mathis.

The long ball, of course, isn't a new problem for Santana, who was tied for eighth in the Majors in homers allowed (164) from 2005-11, his first seven years in the big leagues.

But last year, Santana didn't give up 10 home runs until May 30.

On Tuesday, he left a 3-2 fastball up to Jennings, who gave the Rays their first leadoff homer of the year; left a 3-2 slider out over the plate to Scott in the fourth; watched as Upton muscled an inside fastball out for his first home run of the year in the fifth; then saw Pena take him deep on an outside-corner fastball to lead off the sixth.

"Some of them were good pitches and some of them were mistakes," said Santana, who gave up eight hits, walked one and was charged with five runs. "I can't do anything about it. Just keep pitching and fixing it in the bullpen, and that's it."

Price retired the first nine batters he faced, didn't give up a hit until the fifth inning and put just two runners in scoring position while facing what was already the 15th different lineup used by Scioscia. It was his first shutout since April 25, 2010, and only the second of his five-year career.

"They hit some balls hard today, but I got some fortunate double plays," said Price, whose Rays have won three in a row. "They hit some line drives at some guys."

"We definitely had our chances, but not many," Angels second baseman Howie Kendrick said. "We can definitely swing the bats better."

Everyone can. But the one most are pointing to is Pujols, who went hitless in his fourth consecutive start -- the first time he has done that since September 2010 -- and is still fighting for that elusive first home run.

His batting average now is at .232, he's hitless in his last 16 at-bats, and there's a sense that when he gets going -- and only then -- this offense will start living up to expectations.

"I definitely agree with that," Scioscia said. "Right now, we need a catalyst, and I think the obvious catalyst is going to be when Albert just gets settled and starts swinging the bat. And then I think you're going to see a lot of guys get opportunities, and we'll start to pressure teams the way we can."

Seventeen games have passed, and the Angels are still waiting for that. Comments