video thumbnail

CLE@LAA: Conger doubles home Hamilton in the sixth

ANAHEIM -- On one hand, the Angels are giving some of their younger players a chance to develop and experience life in the Major Leagues.

On the other hand, the club is in the midst of a season-long tailspin, and the losses continue to mount.

The latest, a 3-1 defeat at the hands of the Indians on Wednesday afternoon at Angel Stadium, concluded a 1-5 homestand and gave the club its ninth loss in the last 10 home games.

With Mike Trout nursing a hamstring injury, Howie Kendrick on the DL and Albert Pujols shut down for the season, the Angels entered the game with a lineup few could have seen coming at the onset of the season.

The Angels, a team that entered the season with lofty World Series expectations, only started four players -- Mark Trumbo, Josh Hamilton, Erick Aybar and Peter Bourjos -- who began the year as regulars.

"You try to get depth in your lineup, and right now we're thin," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "We've got to keep plugging away. It's the only thing we can do. Some of these guys, like I said, are trying to get some experience, but we've got to keep playing hard."

Even Wednesday's starting pitcher, Jerome Williams, began the season in the bullpen, and he is now in the rotation because Tommy Hanson and Joe Blanton have struggled.

Williams put runners in scoring position in each of the first two innings, but he was able to escape until the third, when the Indians got on the board.

Michael Bourn led off the inning with a triple into the right-field corner and Nick Swisher promptly gave the Indians a 2-0 lead as he lifted his 15th home run to right field.

"Outside of that, I thought he pitched a strong game," Scioscia said of Williams. "Bullpen did a good job too, we just couldn't get that big hit."

Following the home run, Williams retired 12 of the next 13 batters he faced before a hit and a walk ended his day.

Buddy Boshers was summoned from the 'pen to finish the seventh, and Williams' final line was two runs on six hits in 6 1/3 frames.

"I feel positive," Williams said. "For the last three [starts], I had mental lapses early in the game, in the fourth and fifth innings. I just wanted to stay focused, stay focused for the whole game and get outs."

The Angels have now lost eight straight games in which Williams has started, but on Wednesday he pitched well enough to win. However, so did Justin Masterson.

"He's been good all year," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "He's raised the bar for himself. I think he expects it out of himself. I think he knows we expect it. And I think he enjoys answering it."

Cleveland's right-hander was lifted after 6 2/3 innings and limited the Angels to one run on five hits.

"His ball was moving pretty well, and obviously sinking," Bourjos said. "He was locating his slider pretty well down and away to righties and on top of that, it was tough to see with the shadows in a 4 o'clock game. Those games are never fun here. We had some opportunities to blow the game open early, but we didn't take advantage of it."

The Angels began the day without a .300 hitter in the lineup, and their lone offensive contribution came from Hank Conger, who laced an RBI double in the sixth inning.

The Angels managed just four runs in the three-game series, but had a chance to take the lead Wednesday as they had runners on second and third with one out in the seventh. However, Aybar struck out and Hamilton grounded out.

MLB.com Comments