ARLINGTON -- It was the seventh inning at Globe Life Park on Wednesday afternoon, and the Angels were getting blown out. Their starting pitcher had recorded only seven outs, their bullpen was taxed, and their chance at a comeback had essentially evaporated. So Angels manager Mike Scioscia turned to one of his infielders, Brendan Ryan, and asked the question he dreads:
"I was like, 'Heh, yeah,'" Ryan recalled after an eventual 15-9 loss to the Rangers. "He didn't ask me my stats, but I would've been happy to share them."
Ryan -- who pitched two scoreless innings for the Yankees last year, thank you very much -- took the long walk to the left-center-field bullpen and began to warm up, coming closer than any position player ever has to pitching for a Scioscia-led team.
"Cutter was moving," Ryan said, "changeup was working."
If the Angels had been held scoreless in the top of the eighth, Ryan would've pitched the bottom half, becoming the first position player to pitch for the Angels since current Red Sox hitting coach Chili Davis on June 17, 1993, seven years before Scioscia took over.
But Rafael Ortega blasted a three-run homer -- the first of his career -- to cut the Angels' deficit to four, just reasonable enough for an actual pitcher like Jose Alvarez to come back out for the eighth and deprive Ryan of another "bucket-list moment."
It would've brought some levity to an otherwise dispiriting series finale.
The Angels gave Hector Santiago a 1-0 lead in the first and a 4-1 lead in the second, and the erratic left-hander could not hold it. He gave up a 491-foot home run to Nomar Mazara -- the longest in the Majors this season, according to Statcast™ -- and was ultimately charged with six runs (five earned) on five hits and two walks in 2 1/3 innings, five days after getting ejected after 2 2/3 innings.
"I just kind of fell apart," Santiago said, his ERA jumping from 3.42 to 4.58 over his last two starts. "I didn't have my good stuff today."
Scioscia felt Santiago "wasn't aggressive with anything" and spoke to him after the game, "just to make sure he was healthy, and he says he feels fine."
"Nothing's wrong with my health," Santiago said, responding to a reporter's query. "I know I've answered that question three or four times already. It's kind of getting annoying a little bit with health. It's nothing about health. It's more trying to make pitches, be in the zone, and trying to be under control and not thinking too much, trying to be perfect."
The Angels were anything but.
In the first, rookie catcher Jett Bandy threw high to second base on an attempted steal, allowing Rougned Odor to take third and promptly score on a groundout. In a four-run, game-changing sixth, C.J. Cron bobbled a sharp grounder and threw wide of home, allowing a run to score, and Ortega made a poor throw to the infield, allowing both runners to advance an extra base.
Scioscia was uncommonly livid when the half-inning ended.
He softened postgame.
"Let me tell you one thing about these guys -- these guys, they feel it," Scioscia said, his club now 21-26 after losing two of three in Arlington. "They're playing hard. No matter what we've been presented with, they've been finding ways to give us chances to win games. This one was a little sloppy, but these guys know it, they feel it, they're going to be fine."
The Angels' bullpen had a chance to keep the Angels in the game, but the unit didn't deliver. Mike Morin relieved Santiago in the third and allowed three additional runs to score, two of them inherited baserunners from Santiago. Deolis Guerra, Greg Mahle and Alvarez then gave up a combined eight runs on 10 hits over a five-inning stretch, pushing the Angels back every time the offense rallied.
Part of Ryan hoped that pitching the eighth could, if nothing else, lighten the mood.
"It [stinks] to get your butt kicked," Ryan said, "but maybe we can have a laugh about this on the plane ride? I don't know. You just don't want to be out there laughing and giggling, having a ball. I think that's a slap in the face to your teammates. These guys are all out there trying to get outs and it's not happening. It's just one of those days. Whether they're hitting balls in the gaps or finding seats or just blooping stuff in, these games happen."