Pitching woes, fielding miscues add up in Angels’ loss to A’s

Pitching woes fielding miscues add up in Angels loss to
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If the Angels are to shake their sluggish start and make a playoff push, they’ll have to find a more effective run-prevention formula than the one that has blown up in their faces in the first seven weeks of the season. This combination of worst ERA and most errors in baseball is not going to cut it.

A pair of miscues by infielder-turned-outfielder Jose Rojas in the first three innings Saturday night were costly, and three relievers gave up home runs in a 6-2 loss to the Oakland Athletics in Angel Stadium. The Angels (19-27) have lost nine of 12 games to fall 8½ games behind the A’s in the American League West.

Patrick Sandoval gave the Angels a chance with five solid innings in which the left-hander gave up two runs and four hits, struck out three and walked two.

But Matt Olson hit a solo homer to right field off Alex Claudio in the sixth, Aramis Garcia added a solo shot to left-center off Hunter Strickland in the seventh, and Seth Brown crushed a two-run shot to right off Junior Guerra in the eighth to push a 2-0 lead to 6-0 and the Angels’ major league-worst ERA to 5.28.

A’s right-hander Chris Bassitt blanked the Angels on two hits through seven innings before giving up two runs and three hits, including Shohei Ohtani’s RBI triple to center, in the eighth. He improved to 4-2 with a 3.69 ERA with his 7 2/3-inning, two-run, five-hit, eight-strikeout effort.

Angels right fielder Jose Rojas fails to catch a fly ball hit by Oakland’s Mark Canha during the third inning Saturday.

(Ashley Landis / Associated Press)

Mark Canha opened the game with a drive to the gap in right-center. Rojas, who had two outfield assists in right field Friday night, took an awkward route on the catchable ball, which dropped in front of the wall for a triple. Matt Chapman followed with a sacrifice fly to right for a 1-0 lead.

Canha opened the third with another drive toward the right-center field gap. Rojas closed quickly but over-ran the ball, and when he reached back, the ball nicked off his glove for a play that was generously ruled a double.

Chapman walked, Ramon Laureano reached on an infield single, and Olson grounded into a double play for 2-0.

Rojas was not charged with any errors, but shortstop Jose Iglesias was when he bobbled a second-inning grounder for his 10th error — second most in baseball behind the 11 made by San Diego shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. It was the team’s major league-leading 38th error of the season.

Short hops

Ohtani’s next pitching start is tentatively scheduled for Friday night at Oakland, giving the two-way star eight days of rest after Wednesday’s game against Cleveland, when the velocity of his fastball dropped from an average of 96.6 mph to 91.3 mph.

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