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Angels struggle in the field and at the plate in loss to Mets

Angels struggle in the field and at the plate in loss to Mets

  • Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Patrick Sandoval throws to a...

    Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Patrick Sandoval throws to a New York Mets batter during the first inning of a baseball game in Anaheim, Calif., Sunday, June 12, 2022. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)

  • New York Mets starting pitcher Taijuan Walker throws to a...

    New York Mets starting pitcher Taijuan Walker throws to a Los Angeles Angels batter during the first inning of a baseball game in Anaheim, Calif., Sunday, June 12, 2022. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)

  • New York Mets designated hitter J.D. Davis, center, reacts as...

    New York Mets designated hitter J.D. Davis, center, reacts as he is congratulated in the dugout after hitting a solo home run against the Los Angeles Angels during the fourth inning of a baseball game in Anaheim, Calif., Sunday, June 12, 2022. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)

  • Los Angeles Angels third baseman Anthony Rendon, left, tags out...

    Los Angeles Angels third baseman Anthony Rendon, left, tags out New York Mets’ Brandon Nimmo in a rundown as Nimmo is caught while trying to steal third base during the seventh inning of a baseball game in Anaheim, Calif., Sunday, June 12, 2022. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)

  • Los Angeles Angels second baseman Matt Duffy dives to catch...

    Los Angeles Angels second baseman Matt Duffy dives to catch an infield single by New York Mets Pete Alonso but then committed an error on the throw to the plate which allowed Starling Marte to score during the seventh inning of a baseball game in Anaheim, Calif., Sunday, June 12, 2022. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)

  • New York Mets’ Starling Marte, left, scores as Los Angeles...

    New York Mets’ Starling Marte, left, scores as Los Angeles Angels catcher Kurt Suzuki, right, chases down an errant throw from second baseman Matt Duffy after an infield single by Mets’ Pete Alonso during the seventh inning of a baseball game in Anaheim, Calif., Sunday, June 12, 2022. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)

  • New York Mets relief pitcher Edwin Diaz reacts after striking...

    New York Mets relief pitcher Edwin Diaz reacts after striking out Los Angeles Angels’ Jared Walsh during the eighth inning of a baseball game in Anaheim, Calif., Sunday, June 12, 2022. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)

  • Los Angeles Angels designated hitter Mike Trout, left, hits a...

    Los Angeles Angels designated hitter Mike Trout, left, hits a run-scoring single to score Brandon Marsh with New York Mets catcher Tomas Nido, second from right, looking on during the first inning of a baseball game in Anaheim, Calif., Sunday, June 12, 2022. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)

  • Angels interim manager Phil Nevin, second from left, talks with...

    Angels interim manager Phil Nevin, second from left, talks with relief pitcher Archie Bradley, second from right, during a pitching change in the seventh inning Sunday against the New York Mets. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)

  • New York Mets’ Brandon Nimmo is congratulated in the dugout...

    New York Mets’ Brandon Nimmo is congratulated in the dugout after scoring on a double by Starling Marte against the Los Angeles Angels during the third inning of a baseball game in Anaheim, Calif., Sunday, June 12, 2022. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)

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ANAHEIM ― Life coaching and defensive positioning rarely overlap neatly, but for the Angels’ Tyler Wade, taking a step backward was the best way forward Sunday.

Getting his first start of the season in center field, Wade was caught flat-footed in a pivotal moment. With Brandon Nimmo on first base and the Angels trailing the New York Mets by a run in the third inning, Starling Marte scorched a line drive to center field at 100 mph off the bat. The ball landed over the head of Wade, who was late to react.

Marte cruised into second base and Nimmo scored the Mets’ second run in an eventual 4-1 victory before the announced crowd of 36,598 at Angel Stadium.

That wasn’t the Angels’ only defensive miscue Sunday; they made two other errors behind starter Patrick Sandoval (3-2) and three relief pitchers. Although the hit was scored as a double for Marte, Wade’s mistake was perhaps the most costly mistake in the field. The Angels never led again on a night when their lineup went cold after the first inning.

By losing three of four to the Mets, the Angels fell to 29-32 with 100 games remaining on the schedule. They fell to third place in the American League West for the first time since the season’s first week, a half-game behind the Texas Rangers.

The afternoon sun was a formidable obstacle for outfielders and hitters on both sides. But interim manager Phil Nevin was in no mood for making excuses.

“We both play on both sides,” Nevin said. “They were just better today.”

Mets starter Taijuan Walker (4-2) threw 20 pitches in the first inning without inducing a swing-and-miss. The Angels rattled off four hits against the Yucaipa native, striking first when leadoff hitter Brandon Marsh doubled and scored on a single by Mike Trout.

Leading 1-0 early, it seemed as if the Angels were poised to pick up where they left off Friday night, when they hit five home runs in an eventual 11-6 win.

Walker had other plans. The right-hander did not allow a run over the next five innings. He generated 18 swings and misses while striking out 10 batters. The Angels recorded only two hits over the final eight innings.

“Four o’clock games. Not gonna make any excuses, but it’s tough to see,” Trout said. “It’s a grind when you feel so good up there, then it’s just tough seeing.”

Nevin elected to give Trout a turn at designated hitter while starting Marsh in left field, Wade in center and Juan Lagares in left.

Marsh became the Angels’ primary center fielder in 2021 after Trout suffered a season-ending calf injury. He was worth two outs above average in 70 games, according to Statcast.

Wade had played only three innings in center field this season prior to Sunday. He started 10 games at the position last year for the New York Yankees, where Nevin was the team’s third-base coach. Wade was also on the field early Sunday afternoon shagging fly balls.

All of this was enough to inform Nevin’s lineup decision, but it couldn’t coax Marte’s sharp liner into Wade’s glove.

“That combination of shadows, not being able to see the ball off the bat, those are tough,” Wade said. “Regardless of if you’re out there every single day. … You can’t practice those. That’s an instinctual play. That’s why I’m out there working. It’s just experience under my belt.”

“It’s a line drive right at him,” Nevin said. “It’s a very tough play for an older guy, for a guy who’s been in center field all the time.”

The blunder mattered little in the end. The Mets got two more runs on solo homers by J.D. Davis and Pete Alonso. Davis’ home run in the fourth inning, on a first-pitch fastball, was the first Sandoval had allowed after 51 homerless innings to start the 2022 season.

“Finally,” he quipped. “I was waiting.”

Sandoval allowed two runs on eight hits across six innings. He walked two batters and struck out eight.

The Angels had one last chance to even the score in the eighth inning. Closer Edwin Diaz entered the game with one out and Marsh on first base. The right-hander blew a 100-mph fastball past Trout for the second out. After walking Anthony Rendon, Diaz threw a 101.6-mph fastball past Jared Walsh ― who hit for the cycle one day earlier ― to end the inning. It was the fastest pitch Diaz has thrown in 2022.

The Angels struck out 16 times in all. Walsh and right fielder Juan Lagares (0 for 4) were responsible for three each.

“I think everyone knows the shadows are tough and it’s tough to see there,” Wade said. “You try to jump on ‘em early. Both of our guys pitched well. We got the short end of the stick.”

After losing three of four to the Mets, the Angels (29-33) have a day off Monday before playing the Dodgers Tuesday and Wednesday in Los Angeles.


Press Enterprise