The second verse was not the same as the first for Chase Silseth, the Angels right-hander who followed his dominant big-league debut with a gutsy but messier start against the Oakland Athletics on Friday night.
Silseth was in line for a potential win when he threw a 95-mph, up-and-in fastball to Seth Brown, who turned viciously on the pitch and lined it into the right-field seats for a two-run homer in the top of the fifth inning, turning a one-run A’s deficit into a one-run lead.
The A’s tacked on another run on Kevin Smith’s sacrifice fly in the sixth and held on for a 4-2 victory before 32,422 cowbell-clanging fans in Angel Stadium, extending the Angels’ losing streak to four.
The Angels couldn’t put a dent in the Oakland bullpen, as relievers Sam Moll, Zach Jackson, A.J. Puk and Dany Jimenez combined for 4 1/3 hitless innings.
Of course, it’s hard to do much damage with the bat on your shoulder. The Angels struck out in eight of their 14 plate appearances against the four relievers, six of the punchouts on called third strikes.
Middle-of-the-order hitters Mike Trout, Shohei Ohtani, Anthony Rendon and Jared Walsh whiffed nine times in the game. Trout and Ohtani struck out looking against Jackson in the seventh. Rendon and Walsh struck out looking against Puk in the eighth.
Adding injury to insult, Angels right fielder Taylor Ward came out of the game after slamming face-first into the wall while catching Tony Kemp’s ninth-inning drive. Ward has a major league-leading .370 average and 1.194 on-base-plus-slugging percentage and has hit nine homers with 23 RBIs.
Silseth, 22, was facing the A’s one week after giving up one hit, striking out four and walking two in six innings of a 2-0 victory at Oakland on May 13. He threw 81 pitches in that game, 51 for strikes.
He wasn’t as effective or pitch-efficient Friday night, but he escaped a bases-loaded, two-out jam in the first by getting Luis Barrera to ground out and pitched around Barrera’s leadoff double in the fourth. He struck out three of four batters in the fourth, two with his split-fingered changeup, one with his slider.
Jed Lowrie lofted a solo homer to right for a 1-0 Oakland lead in the first. Ohtani walked with two out in the bottom of the first, stole second and scored on Rendon’s RBI single to right for a 1-1 tie.
Back-to-back doubles by Ward and Trout off A’s right-hander Paul Blackburn to start the third inning gave the Angels a 2-1 lead.
Lowrie walked with one out in the fifth, and Brown followed with his homer for a 3-2 A’s lead. Silseth hit Ramon Laureano in the back with a breaking ball, his 93rd and final pitch of the game.
Silseth, an 11th-round pick out of Arizona last year, opened the season at double-A Rocket City, Ala., where he made five starts with a new pitch clock, which gives hurlers 14 seconds to deliver a pitch with the bases empty and 18 seconds to throw a pitch with runners on base.
He took the same up-tempo approach into his first big-league start, and he carried it into Friday night’s game, taking between 12-16 seconds between pitches with the bases empty and a few more seconds with runners aboard.
“Isn’t it nice?” Angels manager Joe Maddon said. “Everybody should do that.”
Maddon believes if more pitchers would work as quick as Silseth, it would go a long way toward addressing some of the pace-of-play issues that have been dragging the game down for years.
“That’s the only part of our game that is difficult for an observer, either the casual fan or one that’s been into the game for 30-40 years—you just want to see the ball pitched more quickly,” Maddon said. “So he’s a perfect example of what it could look like, by getting the ball back, taking it, throwing it and rolling with it.
“That, to me, is the one element that will reattach fans to us. The part that annoys people more than anything, I think, is the fact that it takes so long to do this. So let’s let it happen a little more quickly. Then you might not need a bunch of artificial stimulus. Just play. Let It be organic.”
Catcher Max Stassi (COVID-related injured list) and relievers Archie Bradley (left-abdominal strain) and Jose Quijada (right-oblique strain) will begin rehabilitation stints with Class-A Inland Empire on Saturday.