Angels see positives in Skaggs' uneven return

Starter allows 3 runs over 4 innings in first outing since April

Angels see positives in Skaggs' uneven return

ANAHEIM -- The Angels had hoped that left-hander Tyler Skaggs' return to their rotation would signal the first wave of impactful reinforcements to their beleaguered pitching staff, but Skaggs delivered an uneven performance on Saturday night in his first Major League start since April 28.

Skaggs needed 83 pitches to get through four innings and took the loss after the Angels were shut out by the A's, 5-0, snapping their four-game win streak at Angel Stadium. The 26-year-old, who was activated from the 60-day disabled list on Saturday after missing more than three months with an oblique strain, allowed three runs on six hits while walking two and striking out three.

"We had high expectations that he was going to come in and make his pitches," manager Mike Scioscia said. "His bullpens were good. He felt good. A couple of his outings in Triple-A, obviously, some things got away from him. Tonight was not exactly what we needed, but before he lost the feel of his curveball, he made some really good pitches."

Skaggs' night began ominously, as he surrendered a first-pitch single to Rajai Davis, who went on to steal second and third before scoring on a wild pitch to give the A's an early 1-0 lead.

"He's had like seven stolen bases off me, so I don't know what his deal is," Skaggs said. "He knows me really well. It's frustrating. It's something I need to figure out. He reads me like a book."

Skaggs navigated the second and third innings without allowing further damage, but he said he started to lose command of his curveball -- his best pitch -- in the middle innings. He retired the first two batters he faced to start the fourth, but then yielded a ground-rule double, a walk and an infield single to load the bases for the A's. Skaggs subsequently left a 2-2 curveball up to Dustin Garneau, who smacked it to left field for a two-out, two-run single that put the Angels in a 3-0 hole.

"It was fun until the fourth inning," Skaggs said. "I got two quick outs and then probably let my mind slip away. Tried to throw a few changeups and got out of my game instead of just pounding the zone with fastballs. It's my mistake, but at the same time, I felt strong. I felt good. I could have gotten out of that inning with no runs, and I made a bad pitch."

Skaggs had logged a 7.24 ERA over 13 2/3 innings in four rehab starts, but the Angels felt he was ready to return to the Majors and aid the club's postseason push down the stretch. Their loss on Saturday dropped them 2 1/2 games behind the Royals for the second American League Wild Card spot, but the Halos still saw some bright spots in Skaggs' outing.

"There are a lot of positives we can take away from this," Scioscia said. "Hopefully Tyler will work hard in his bullpen and come out here in his next start and be a little more effective and efficient."

Maria Guardado covers the Angels for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.