Angels blow it with bases loaded in shutout loss to Pirates

In the grand scheme of it all, a Matt Thaiss bases-loaded at-bat in the middle of a 3-0 loss is a speck of dust in the universe of a baseball season.

In the midst of the Angels’ late-July tightrope act, though, when every game is one step closer to either outcome at the trade deadline — buy or sell, stand pat or white flag — each moment looms large. Each at-bat buzzes with energy, the best player in baseball perhaps dangling in the balance, the future of an organization potentially at stake.

So in a parallel universe, Thaiss’ screaming line drive after an eight-pitch at-bat would have scored a couple of runners and given the Angels a 2-0 lead over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Saturday night, backing starting pitcher Reid Detmers in pursuit of a fifth consecutive win and a three-game wild-card deficit.

In reality, Thaiss’ screaming line drive landed in Pirates second baseman Nick Gonzales’ glove and he promptly doubled off Taylor Ward at second. Hunter Renfroe followed with a feeble, inning-ending strikeout that prompted a slapped bat.

Detmers surrendered two runs the following inning after a dazzling start, muddying a nine-strikeout performance. Trey Cabbage grounded into a bases-loaded double play in the ninth that ended the Angels’ winning streak.