ANAHEIM -- This was going to be the year when the Angels' bullpen would be deeper, and April would be brighter. But there was Joe Smith late Tuesday night, lamenting a second straight blown lead by a key reliever to the streaking A's and reliving a night when the setup man could do nothing right.
"I was absolutely terrible tonight; there's no other way to say it," Smith said after triggering the four-run top of the eighth that led to a 10-9, 11-inning loss and paved the way for a freak ankle injury to Kole Calhoun.
"That's as bad as I've ever performed," said Smith. "And it [stinks] to sit here and not only get a loss, but to watch one of your guys go down. If you just do your job, one, we win a game, two, you're another guy healthy. That [stinks]."
Smith -- with six consecutive scoreless outings in 2014 and a 2.42 ERA with the Indians the previous three seasons -- entered the eighth inning with a 6-5 lead, one night after closer Ernesto Frieri blew a save by serving up a ninth-inning two-run homer to John Jaso, and completely unraveled.
By the time Smith exited, five consecutive batters had reached and the A's had retaken the lead. Two innings after Mike Trout tied the game with a ninth-inning two-run homer, Yoslan Herrera gave the A's the lead again on an 11th-inning double by Josh Donaldson. And minutes after that, Calhoun -- 7-for-15 over his last three games -- caught his right foot on a divot just beyond first base, suffering the twisted ankle that will land him on the disabled list, right alongside Josh Hamilton.
"It's part of the journey of a season, and you have to absorb it," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said, his club 6-8 after losing at home to the A's for the 15th time in the last 21 games.
"As much as you hate to lose those guys, our challenge right now is really to get some chemistry in our bullpen," said Scioscia. "And that's the biggest impact that we have moving forward."
The Angels' bullpen, with power right-hander Dane De La Rosa and key lefty Sean Burnett both on the disabled list, has already suffered three losses this season while posting a 5.34 ERA and walking 21 batters in 42 1/3 innings.
"Obviously we have to get some stuff figured out, as far as the late innings go and our bullpen," Smith said. "It's no secret right now."
Smith started the eighth by walking Jed Lowrie despite starting out ahead, 0-2. The 30-year-old sidearmer then gave up a single to Donaldson, allowed the A's to tie the game when Brandon Moss' hard grounder ricocheted off the body of first baseman Albert Pujols, walked Yoenis Cespedes to load the bases, gave up a go-ahead single to former Angels third baseman Alberto Callaspo, and exited with none out and the bases loaded.
Smith remembers pitching this bad only one other time in his eight-year career.
"We were in Texas in 2011," he recalled. "I came in, gave up two of the starter's runs, and gave up three runs without getting an out. So, twice in my career. I'd say that's pretty uncharacteristic of me. It hurts."
Left-hander Jose Alvarez entered next, Bob Melvin countered by having the right-handed-hitting Derek Norris pinch-hit for the left-handed-hitting Josh Reddick, and the A's built their lead to three with a two-run single.
Trout did all he could to get the Angels back in it, hitting a towering two-run homer off Sean Doolittle to tie it at 9 in the ninth, then reaching on an infield single and stealing his first base of the season with one out in the bottom of the 11th.
But Lowrie singled to start the top of the 11th, then scored all the way from first on Donaldson's liner down the left-field line. And Jim Johnson, recently demoted from the closer's role, worked out of trouble in the bottom half, intentionally walking Pujols and then inducing back-to-back grounders by Raul Ibanez and Howie Kendrick to hand the A's their eighth win in the last nine games.
"The way I look at it," Donaldson said, "the longer we go, the better chance we have, because our bullpen's so deep."
The Angels can't say the same.
For the 11th, Scioscia still had Kevin Jepsen at his disposal. But he instead chose to go with Herrera, the 32-year-old Cuban right-hander who was pitching in independent ball last year and spent six years away from the big leagues.
Scioscia has a lot to figure out with the bullpen right now, not to mention his outfield.
"We need to get some sort of order down there," the Angels' skipper said. "If it means we're doing it by committee, which we're talking about now, with trying to get the middle innings matching up, we'll do it. Because it looks like we don't really have enough guys that are getting into their game and pitching well."
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.