ANAHEIM — The leadoff hitter was playing college baseball in May. The No. 9 hitter suited up in the rookie league as recently as last season.
In between, the Angels mixed and matched a most improbable lineup Friday, with the hope that youthful energy and a tiny bit of veteran savvy could build off a comeback victory one night earlier.
It could not.
The Angels fell to the Cleveland Guardians, 6-3, for their seventh loss in the last eight games and 10th in the last 12. Mike Trout hasn’t played in any of those dozen games and Shohei Ohtani has played in just seven, none as a pitcher.
In addition to missing Trout (hand) and Ohtani (oblique) on Friday, Luis Rengifo was out with a biceps injury and Mickey Moniak was out with a strained back.
Shortstop Zach Neto is on a rehab assignment with his own back injury, and while there was an Anthony Rendon sighting, the third baseman was merely participating in light running drills before the game as he recovers from a leg contusion.
So first baseman Nolan Schanuel led off and shortstop Kyren Paris brought up the rear of the lineup, which also had Logan O’Hoppe batting cleanup in just his 32nd game this season. There was Randal Grichuk, who was put on waivers two weeks ago, Jordyn Adams who was just recalled earlier Friday and Brett Phillips, who played 66 games at Triple-A this year.
The scrappy group had its moments. Schanuel worked a leadoff walk in the third inning to reach base in all 16 major league games he has played, extending his club record. Adams lifted a sacrifice fly for a run in the fourth for his first career RBI to get the Angels within 2-1.
Angels right-hander Griffin Canning (7-6) held it together into the sixth inning when he gave up a one-out double to Gabriel Arias and was replaced by left-hander Kolton Ingram, who struggled to find the strike zone.
Ingram loaded the bases on a single and a walk, with Steven Kwan delivering a sacrifice fly for a 3-1 lead. Walks to Jose Ramirez and Josh Naylor brought home another run for a 4-1 advantage.
But the Angels moved back within a run in the bottom of the sixth after a leadoff walk from Eduardo Escobar and a two-run home run from O’Hoppe against right-hander Nick Sandlin. It was O’Hoppe’s seventh of the season and his third since returning from a shoulder injury Aug. 18.
But Cleveland scored twice more in the eighth after Angels right-hander Jose Marte was drilled in the leg by a Ramirez comebacker to load the bases. Josh Naylor and Ramon Laureano followed with sacrifice flies for a 6-3 advantage.
Unlike Thursday, when the Angels rallied against Guardians closer Emmanuel Clase, the right-hander had a perfect ninth inning Friday for his major league-leading 39th save.
More to come on this story.
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