CLEVELAND -- The Angels' Achilles' heel was a pain again on Friday, and as the club's sluggish start continues, its patience appears to be wearing thin.
The much maligned and newly reshuffled bullpen relinquished a two-run lead that had carefully been preserved during a gutsy effort from starter Jered Weaver. As a result, the Angels (6-14) dropped their fifth consecutive game, 3-2, to the Indians (10-8), as they continue their worst season-opening start in 10 years.
Before Friday's series opener, the Angels replaced righty closer Jordan Walden with southpaw Scott Downs. Following the game, the Halos released veteran outfielder Bobby Abreu and recalled top prospect and speedy outfielder Mike Trout, who manager Mike Scioscia said isn't joining the big league club to waste away on the bench.
"Right now, there are some parts of our club that we need to get moving forward," Scioscia said. "I don't think this is going to be a cure-all, because I think there are things that we definitely need to come into play. Hopefully our bullpen is going to start to materialize, but [Trout] is a young, exciting player that's going to come up and hopefully start to contribute to things that we need to move forward with in our team.'
Downs, the new officer of the ninth inning, never had the chance to convert a save, despite six scoreless innings from Weaver.
Instead, Asdrubal Cabrera vaulted the Tribe to victory with a walk-off RBI single to a vacant right field, as Torii Hunter had joined a five-man infield in an effort to extend the game to extra innings with a timely double play. Rookie David Carpenter suffered his first loss as Angels relievers fell to 0-6.
"We have some good arms down there," Scioscia said. "Right now, some of the guys are not throwing to their capabilities and it's having a cascading effect in a negative way on some other guys."
Weaver needed 115 pitches to complete six innings, but held Cleveland without a run, although he routinely filled the bases with Indians. He allowed seven hits and walked four in his six frames. He dodged harm by virtue of eight strikeouts and two timely strikeout-caught-stealing double plays.
"Jered wasn't as crisp as we have seen earlier in some of his starts," manager Mike Scioscia said. "It was a tough lineup. Those guys are going to make you work for every out and take their walks. He had to do a lot early in the game to get out of some jams. He wasn't as dialed in, but that's just how good Jered is."
The bullpen didn't fare as well while walking a tightrope.
One day after Walden yielded a two-run walk-off homer to Tampa Bay's Brandon Allen, the relief corps again ceded a late-inning lead.
Cleveland scratched across a pair of runs in the seventh off lefty Hisanori Takahashi. The game remained locked at 2 until the ninth, when Carpenter served up a leadoff double to Aaron Cunningham that hit halfway up the 19-feet-high wall in left field, just out of the reach of a leaping Vernon Wells. With one out, Kipnis scorched a line drive off the glove of a diving Erick Aybar at shortstop. The ball scooted into left field with enough speed to keep Cunningham at third base.
Cabrera then roped a line drive to a wide-open right field, scoring Cunningham and dropping the Angels to 0-6 in one-run games.
"He threw the first two pitches down -- a changeup and fastball," Cabrera said. "I was looking for a good pitch to hit hard. He made a mistake and left one up in the zone."
The Angels are far from firing on all cylinders. Yet Scioscia believes that all it takes is for either the hitters, starters or relievers to get in a groove and the other areas of the club will follow suit.
For that reason, Scioscia doesn't place all of the blame on his scuffling 'pen. The Halos are banking on Trout adding a much-needed spark to a sluggish offense that has produced just nine runs in its last five games. They're also hoping Walden quickly solves his issues with command and consistency and Downs holds down the fort.
"Obviously, we're not very happy with what's going on," Weaver said. "The comments about 'It's early in the season' are far gone. We need to turn things around and get stuff on the same page."
As frustration builds, Scioscia maintains that the club knows what it must do to snap out of its early-season funk.
"The solution is clear," Scioscia said. "It's just gradually getting there that's frustrating right now."