- ESPN baseball reporter. Covered the L.A. Rams for ESPN from 2016 to 2018 and the L.A. Angels for MLB.com from 2012 to 2016.
ANAHEIM, Calif. — For Matt Duffy, this all felt far too familiar.
It was only 11 months ago that Duffy’s Chicago Cubs lost 11 consecutive games from late June to early July, going from nine games above .500 to a losing record. They never recovered. Now Duffy, a 31-year-old infielder, finds himself on a Los Angeles Angels team that just concluded a 14-game losing streak that torched their blistering start. As the losses mounted and the rut endured, Duffy noticed he and his Angels teammates were navigating games in a strikingly similar fashion — by placing excessive importance on early-inning situations, by acting like any deficit was too large to overcome, by playing as if the losing streak had consumed them entirely.
“That’s been weighing [on us] for about a week now, it seems,” Duffy said. “It seems like every opportunity we have to score runs, or every opportunity we have to keep them off the board — even in the fifth, I’m feeling it. It’s like a playoff game. And it’s the f—ing fifth inning right now. They might score, we’re trying to keep them off the board, but it [shouldn’t be] a pressure f—ing situation. That’s how it feels.”
Duffy spoke from his locker late Wednesday night, in the middle of an Angels clubhouse that had become eerily quiet. The strobe lights that had routinely adorned the room during postgame celebrations were static. The cowboy hat used to commemorate home runs had begun collecting dust. The noticeable good vibes these Angels carried through the season’s first six-plus weeks had vanished.
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