BALTIMORE (AP) — The Los Angeles Angels haven’t reached panic mode — yet.
Although their shaky playoff hopes absorbed another blow Saturday night with a 6-2 loss to the Baltimore Orioles, the Angels know they can’t afford to succumb to self-imposed pressure.
“It’s the elephant in the room,” first baseman Mark Trumbo said. “I guess there’s a couple ways you can approach it. I don’t think it would be beneficial if there was panic, so this is going to be the way we go about it. Guys want to win, there’s no doubt about it, but everyone here’s professional enough to go about it without yelling and screaming.”
Desperately needing a win to stay within striking distance of first-place Texas in the AL West and Boston in the wild-card chase, Los Angeles fell flat for the second night in a row against the last-place Orioles.
The Angels dropped 4 1/2 games behind Texas in the division race and remained five games in back of Boston in the wild-card hunt. Los Angeles has lost four of six and has only 11 games left.
“Every time you don’t get it done, obviously it’s making that climb a little bit tougher,” manager Mike Scioscia said. “We’re getting down to where you see the finish line and we know we’ve got to pick up some ground. But you got to focus on what it’s going to take to win some games and bring that out on the field and we haven’t done a very good job of that the last two nights.”
Orioles rookie Zach Britton (10-10) allowed one run and three hits in seven innings, walked two and had a career-high seven strikeouts.
Pedro Strop worked the eighth and Jim Johnson gave up a two-out RBI triple to Vernon Wells in the ninth.
J.J. Hardy hit his career-high 27th homer and Mark Reynolds hit No. 34 off Ervin Santana (11-12) in the first inning for the Orioles.
With nothing else to play for, Baltimore has embraced the spoiler role.
“I think it more so just shows the type of people we are as a team,” Britton said. “We could easily have just kind of thrown in the towel and we’re not doing that. We know that these teams have something to play for and we are playing them hard.”
Santana settled down after the first inning, but the damage was done. The right-hander gave up five runs and five hits over seven innings and lost his third consecutive start. He was 5-0 in his previous five road starts.
“I was all over the place,” Santana said. “Then, after that, (I) refocused and throw strikes.”
Santana was dangerously wild. He walked three and hit two batters with pitches, including Reynolds, who was plunked in the helmet with a fastball in the third inning. Reynolds insisted upon remaining in the game, but was removed in the top of the fifth.
Reynolds was taken to the hospital for a precautionary CT scan, manager Buck Showalter said.
Baltimore sent 10 batters to the plate in the first inning and scored twice before Santana got an out.
After Matt Angle drew a leadoff walk, Hardy drove a 3-2 pitch over the left-field wall. One out later, Vladimir Guerrero singled and Matt Wieters walked before Reynolds homered with two outs on an 0-2 pitch.
The Angels, meanwhile, didn’t get their first hit until Mike Trout singled with one out in the fifth. Erick Aybar followed with a single and Bobby Wilson hit a sacrifice fly.
Mark Trumbo led off the seventh with a single and advanced to third with two outs before Aybar grounded out.
Baltimore made it 6-1 in the eighth against Garrett Richards. Wieters walked on four pitches and scored when Trout bobbled Chris Davis’ double to right.
NOTES: The start of the game was delayed 14 minutes after home plate umpire Brian O’Nora was struck in the right ankle by a ricocheting warmup pitch from Britton. The fallen umpire was helped off by Orioles athletic trainers. X-rays were inconclusive. Second base umpire Alfonzo Marquez moved behind the plate and the game was played with three umps. … An MRI performed Saturday on Orioles OF Adam Jones revealed a sprained right thumb. “I’m fine, basically. Just tough it out,” said Jones, who missed his seventh straight start because of the injury. “I’ve never really had this before. It’s new to me.” … Right-hander Jered Weaver will start Sunday for the Angels on three days rest, Scioscia said. .. Showalter said left-hander Brian Matusz would start one of the games in Monday’s doubleheader at Boston.