ATLANTA — Lucas Giolito’s mere presence on the mound in an Angels uniform was a strong statement about the club’s intention to push for the playoffs.
This wasn’t what anyone expected to see from Giolito, though.
Giolito was blistered for nine runs in the Angels’ 12-5 loss to the Atlanta Braves on Wednesday afternoon.
“I’m the reason team lost today,” Giolito said. “We got a chance to win the series against the best team in the league. It’s a tough feeling, but moving on. It’s not the first time I’ve pitched poorly. So make a few adjustments. Go back out there and give a better performance next time.”
In two starts since the Angels acquired him from the Chicago White Sox last week, Giolito has allowed 12 runs in nine innings. He pitched well enough to win if the Angels had given him any run-support Friday in Toronto, but this game was a nightmare.
“I’ve made about as bad a first impression as you can,” Giolito said, “so at this point, just stay on my routine, stay confident and go out and give a better performance.”
Giolito gave up a three-run homer when he threw Ronald Acuña Jr. a fastball down the middle in the third inning. In the fourth, he walked a batter, hit a batter and then gave up two singles.
Austin Riley’s two-run homer and Matt Olson’s solo shot buried the Angels.
“They didn’t miss mistakes,” Giolito said. “The first two innings were relatively smooth and then when I missed more towards the middle of the plate, they smoked ’em. It was pretty rough.”
It was the disappointing end to a nine-game trip that began with such promise. The Angels won all three in Detroit, which was where they were they enjoyed the “buzz,” in manager Phil Nevin’s words, of the deal for Giolito and reliever Reynaldo López.
Although the Angels lost two of three in Toronto, they won the last game and hours later bulked up their lineup with the additions of first baseman C.J. Cron and outfielder Randal Grichuk.
Their hopes peaked after winning the first game of the series against the Braves, who have the best record in the majors.
Little went right in the final two, though, sending the Angels home with a 5-4 record on the trip and a 56-53 overall record.
“Big picture, you look at it, you want to play over .500 on the road,” Nevin said, “but certainly some games we thought we could have gotten. Today’s a disappointment for sure. A chance to win a series against the best team in the league.”
Although the final game was decided by Giolito’s rough start, the Angels also missed some early opportunities before it got out of hand. They wasted a leadoff single in the second. In the third, they scored a run to pull within 3-1 and had runners at the corners with one out, but Eduardo Escobar hit into a double play.
The Angels were down 9-1 before the offense showed signs of life in the sixth inning.
Defensively, center fielder Jordyn Adams had some rough moments in his major league debut. Although Adams came to the big leagues with a reputation as an outstanding defender, he misplayed a ball and missed the cutoff man twice. He also made a nice running catch at the wall in the first inning.
Nevin said Adams was likely trying too hard to make a good impression, and the rookie acknowledged his bad throws.
“The first impression for me, it’s kind of tough of take that as this is what he’s gonna be in the big leagues,” Nevin said. “This is a tough environment to come in as a first game. Moving around as far as catching the ball, I’m more than comfortable with him out there going and getting it.”
The best news for the Angels was that right-hander Jaime Barría handled the final 4 1/3 innings, allowing the rest of the Angels relievers to be fresh heading into the next series against the Seattle Mariners, one of the teams the Angels are fighting for a playoff spot.
“That was massive,” Nevin said. “To give us all those outs and not have to go into the ‘pen. We’re locked and loaded for this homestand.”