Angels’ franchise-record losing streak extends to 14 with loss to Red Sox

There was no live chicken to sacrifice, and a bonfire of bats didn’t make sense, so in an effort to snap their two-week skid, the Angels all used the same walk-up song—some portion of “Photograph,” by Nickelback—throughout Wednesday night’s game against the Boston Red Sox.

Who’s got next, “Buttercup?”

The attempt at a slump-buster did not work. The Angels failed to score against Red Sox starter Nathan Eovaldi and four relievers in a 1-0 loss before a crowd of 26,587 in Angel Stadium, extending their franchise-record losing streak to 14 games.

Boston scored the game’s only run in the sixth, an inning that began with Angels right-hander Jimmy Herget striking out Xander Bogaerts with a 75-mph curve and Trevor Story with a 92-mph fastball.

But Alex Verdugo kept the inning alive with a walk, and Bobby Dalbeck sliced a 1-and-1 sinker into the right-field corner for a double that scored Verdugo from first for a 1-0 Red Sox lead.

Eovaldi gave up six hits in five scoreless innings, striking out five, and Tyler Danish (one inning), Jake Diekman (one inning), John Schreiber (1 1/3 inning) and Matt Strahm (final two outs) blanked the Angels the rest of the way to offset a solid start by Angels left-hander Reid Detmers, who threw 4 1/3 scoreless innings.

The Angels were 24-13 and tied for first place with Houston in the American League West on May 15. They lost 18 of their next 21 games, including the 14-game losing streak, to fall to 27-31 and 9 ½ games behind the Astros. Seven losses during streak have been by one run.

According to Elias, the Angels are third team in baseball history to be 10 or more games over .500 and have a losing streak of 10 or more games to fall below .500, joining the 1978 Oakland Athletics and 1970 Chicago Cubs.

Not since 1995 has an Angels club gone from first place to hapless so suddenly. That team suffered twin nine-game losing streaks from Aug. 25 on and blew an 11-game American League West lead to the Seattle Mariners, one of the worst collapses in baseball history.

Those Angels went 73 consecutive innings without a lead during the first nine-game losing streak from Aug. 25-Sept. 3, and 75 straight innings without a lead during the second nine-game skid from Sept. 13-23.

This year’s team isn’t quite as feeble—they actually held leads in the seventh inning or later in six of the 13 losses—but there are plenty of parallels to 1995.

There have been breakdowns in the rotation, the bullpen and on defense, a lack of clutch hitting and a shortage of quality at-bats, or the offense has simply disappeared, the Angels scoring five runs in the first five games of last week’s trip to New York and Philadelphia.

Angels second baseman Jack Mayfield gets tied up with teammate Jo Adell after catching a fly ball in the seventh inning against the Boston Red Sox on Wednesday at Angel Stadium.

(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

The Angels have been unable to combine good pitching with a robust offense on the same night. They play a relatively strong game and the bullpen blows a late lead.

Key players such as Taylor Ward and Anthony Rendon have been hurt. Others, most notably three-time AL most valuable player Mike Trout and reigning AL MVP Shohei Ohtani, have struggled.

Trout, who missed Wednesday night’s game because of left-groin tightness and is listed as day to day, went a career-high 26 at-bats without a hit until his first-inning single Monday night. Ohtani is hitting .191 (9 for 47) with two homers and four RBIs during the streak.

Several players have also acknowledged that they feel pressure to be the hero, the player who puts an end to the streak, and that only seems to make things worse.

“What happens is, you have the team you’re playing, and the second opponent is pressure,” said Tim Salmon, the right fielder on that 1995 club and now one of the team’s broadcasters. “You’re feeling so much pressure to end the streak that it’s almost like playing with one arm tied behind your back.”

Salmon, 53, spent his entire 14-year career with the Angels from 1992-2006 and won a World Series with the team in 2002. Though he stressed he does not condone violence, he said players and teams of his generation sometimes resorted to it in an effort to snap a lengthy slump.

“The mindset back then, when you were going through a losing stretch, was we need a good brawl,” Salmon said. “We’re hitting somebody [with a pitch], and we’re gonna fight. What it did was create this energy, this excitement.

“You’re all bloodied up, you’re drinking beers and talking about it after the game and having fun, it just lightens the mood, and it helps you get out of your funk. In a way, it’s almost like they kind of need something like that. I wouldn’t condone fighting, but that’s the way the game was played back then.”

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