Angels hit seven homers but still lose to Oakland

For a team featuring Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani, the Los Angeles Angels are sure to lose a lot of games: 61 so far in just 44 wins.

But Thursday night’s game had to be particularly annoying.

As hosts of the even worse Oakland Athletics, the Angels got two home runs from Ohtani and one each from Kurt Suzuki, Taylor Ward, Jo Adell, Jared Walsh and Mickey Moniak. Seven in total, breaking the club record set in 2003.

And they still lost.

How could that happen? How could versions of this happen so often that a tweet about the team’s futility despite its generation stars has become the franchise’s calling card?

Well, it certainly didn’t help that all seven of Thursday’s blasts were solo shots – another first for a team that’s grown accustomed to its uniqueness. Even then, seven runs should be enough to win most ball games. But the Angels gave up eight, of course, most of them in a six-run third inning. Janson Junk, the team’s starter, pitched two and a third inning and was credited with allowing six earned runs.

85 teams have hit seven homers in one game, and their record is 79-6. Though games date back to a Philadelphia A’s win in 1921, the losses are all in modern times, beginning in 1995. In fact, just last year the Minnesota Twins lost a seven-homer game 17-14 to the Detroit Tigers. and even in the 2020 season shortened by the pandemic, the Toronto Blue Jays managed to lose a game despite hitting seven long balls.

All 31 times, a team had eight or more homers, luckily winning the game, although one of them, the 2006 Braves, went 11 innings to beat the Cubs 13-12 at Wrigley Field. The record for most home runs by a team in a game is still held by the 1987 Blue Jays, who hit 10 against the Baltimore Orioles in one day this season, with Ernie Whitt hitting three. The result was then more as one would expect: 18-3.

For many traditionalists who dislike the way baseball has changed, Thursday night’s game may have been the ultimate example: lots of home runs but not nearly enough baserunners. The Angels had just two other hits in the game, a single and a double, pulled just two walks and hit out nine times.

“I think they always say solo home runs don’t beat you, but you feel like if you hit seven you could,” Phil Nevin, the Angels’ interim manager, told reporters after the game. “It didn’t work out for us”

The team’s batting average for the game, .257, was easily the lowest in a game with more than seven homers. The typical average in such games is around 0.400.

The Angels are just above average in home runs this season but fifth from bottom in runs scored. As Trout (currently on the injured list), Ohtani and Ward strike, the rest of the team come up with uninspiring numbers.

Of the 13 batters with 100 plate appearances, eight bat under .250 and a few under quite a bit. Don’t give a damn about Walsh, because there are plenty of candidates, but a first baseman hitting .231 with 20 walks at this point in the season isn’t going to win you too many games, despite his home run on Thursday.

The Angels underperform in every non-pitching position in the WAR version of Baseball Reference except, unsurprisingly, midfield (generally Trout) and designated hitter (usually Ohtani).

And as that viral tweet implied, Ohtani’s great game hardly guarantees the Angels a win. Thursday’s game was his 11th two-homer performance in the majors. The Angels are only 6-5 in these games.

The chance to see Ohtani and Trout means there are few teams that will draw the eyes of neutral fans more than the Angels. But those viewers are getting used to seeing two great players, a decent number of home runs but not a lot of wins.