Angels manager Ron Washington criticizes player after his own squeeze bunt decision backfires

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ANAHEIM, Calif. — JoJo Romero appeared rattled. The St. Louis Cardinals setup man had walked two batters in a row — one on a pitch-clock violation. He’d been in three-ball counts to every hitter he faced.

There was one out, the bases were loaded and St. Louis was up a run in the eighth inning. That’s when Los Angeles Angels manager Ron Washington called for Luis Guillorme to execute a squeeze bunt.

The pitch was well outside. Guillorme couldn’t make contact. And Zach Neto, running down the line, was an easy out. The Angels didn’t score again and lost 7-6 on Tuesday.

Washington absolved himself of all blame in the situation and instead placed it at the feet of Guillorme, who has been with the team for less than one week.

“He didn’t do the job,” Washington said of Guillorme. “It wasn’t anything I did wrong. He didn’t do the job.

“I would have rather went to the ninth inning with a 6-6 lead than gone to the ninth inning the way we did.”

Washington also incorrectly said that Romero had been throwing strikes. At the time, Romero had thrown 14 balls in the inning compared to just 12 strikes.

“He was throwing the ball in the strike zone,” Washington said, before elevating his voice at the reporter and hitting his hand against the podium. “Why are you making excuses? He was throwing the ball in the strike zone. (Guillorme) did not get the bunt down. Period.”

The Angels have struggled mightily in Washington’s first season as Angels manager. Tuesday evening’s loss dropped their record to 15-28. They’ve lost all but two series this season and have won consecutive games just twice all year.

Guillorme took the high road in responding to Washington’s comments. He accepted responsibility, even though any bunt would have been nearly impossible to get down, given the pitch’s location.

“I haven’t seen anything,” Guillorme said when asked about what was said. “He made a good pitch. I didn’t get it down. I’ve got to try to put a bat on it. That’s it.”

Washington has been a proponent of small-ball baseball. And with the Angels struggling to score this season, he’s been actively trying to manufacture runs. The decision, he said, was rooted in the lefty-lefty matchup with Guillorme and Romero, who is also a sinker ball pitcher. Washington said he was concerned about a potential double play.

Cardinals catcher Pedro Pagés said he understood why the Angels did it, given Romero’s prowess this season. But was still caught off guard as it happened.

“When I saw the runner coming home, I was like, ‘Why is he running at me?’ So I was like, ‘Alright, let me just tag him and throw the ball to third.’”

(Photo of Ron Washington from April 10: Jayne Kamin-Oncea / Getty Images)

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