February 3, 2023

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Rocky 1st inning dooms Lorenzen, Halos as skid hits 10

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PHILADELPHIA — Any hope of the Angels snapping their nine-game losing streak was essentially over in the first inning on Saturday.

Michael Lorenzen struggled in the opening frame and allowed five runs, which was too much for Los Angeles’ slumping offense to overcome in a 7-2 loss to the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. It extended the Angels’ losing streak to 10 games, their longest since dropping 11 in a row from Aug. 4-15, 2016. They’ve also lost 14 of 17 to fall to 27-27 on the year.

Lorenzen said he was too amped up in the first, causing him to overthrow and miss location. He wanted to be the one to end the streak, but that mentality backfired, as he was too quick with his delivery and his fastball straightened.

“I went in there and I felt like I wanted to turn it around for the guys,” Lorenzen said. “I was just going way too fast. Once I slowed down and trusted my stuff, I was able to finish my pitches and not fly open.”

Lorenzen, though, did get through 5 2/3 innings on 102 pitches to help ease the burden on the bullpen, which was important after a doubleheader on Thursday in New York and rookie Chase Silseth going just 1 2/3 innings on Friday. The right-hander struck out nine, but he also walked five and gave up five hits as he fell to 5-3 with a 3.69 ERA over nine starts.

In that troublesome first, Lorenzen had trouble finding the strike zone, and when he did, he was hit hard. Of his 37 pitches, just 16 went for strikes, with Philadelphia tagging him for two doubles and two singles. 

“I thought he was trying to overthrow a little bit and the pitches were just catching too much of the zone,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said. “When you try to possibly add more, sometimes it straightens out. He needs to rely on his deception with his sinker and changeup. Second inning on, he was outstanding.”

Lorenzen gave up a double on his first pitch of the game to Kyle Schwarber and then later issued back-to-back walks to load the bases with one out. J.T. Realmuto made him pay with a two-run double before Bryson Stott walked with two outs. Johan Camargo brought home two more runs with a single on a 3-2 cutter and Mickey Moniak plated the fifth run with a single back up the middle that Lorenzen couldn’t handle.

After the inning, Lorenzen consulted with Mike Trout to see if he was tipping pitches. The verdict was it was more of an issue with Lorenzen’s delivery.

“Trout is pretty good at picking up if I’m tipping pitches,” Lorenzen said. “I wasn’t really missing any barrels. I think they were seeing the ball way sooner because I was flying open. I had a feeling I wasn’t, so I asked Mike if I was tipping. And then I told Joe, ‘Keep me in there, so I can get through six.’ And he told me how I was going to do it and we went down and had a conversation about slowing it down.”

Lorenzen settled down from there and even set a career high with his nine strikeouts. He was removed with two outs in the sixth after walking Moniak and looked visibly frustrated with the free pass and inability to get through six.

“He was frustrated because he walked that last batter, and he had a chance to go six full and he knew that,” Maddon said. “That’s what he was lamenting on the mound.”

With the Angels down by five runs early, it was hard to imagine a comeback with the way things had been going offensively. The Angels had scored just three combined runs over their last four games entering Saturday and rarely threatened Phillies ace Zack Wheeler, who threw six strong innings. Jared Walsh brought home both runs with an RBI single in the third and an RBI double in the fifth.

Trout, playing near his hometown of Millville, N.J., also had another tough game offensively, going 0-for-4 with three strikeouts to extend his hitless streak to a career-worst 0-for-23, topping an 0-for-21 stretch from May 11-18, 2018.

“I’m in it right now,” Trout said. “Just have to figure out a way to get out of it. Just searching too much right now. I’ll be fine. Just have to be positive. Look at last night, I was robbed of two hits. I just need to start seeing the ball better.”

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