Though it took several months and some key trades to bolster the bullpen, that blueprint for success is very clear as the Angels enter the final turn of a season that looked so promising in mid-July but has lost some sheen in recent weeks.
To reach the postseason and play deep into October, the Angels must get consistent — though not necessarily overpowering — starting pitching, stout relief from a deep and dominant bullpen and enough offense to out-hit any pitching deficiencies.
The rotation, despite
The bullpen, despite
But the offense, prolific for 31/2 months despite injuries that sidelined
The Angels led the major leagues in runs and on-base percentage at the All-Star break, but in 23 games since, a stretch in which they are 11-12, they're hitting an AL-worst .223 with 73 runs, an average of 3.17 a game. They're three for 33 with runners in scoring position (.091) in their last five games.
Even productive outs have been elusive. The Angels had runners on first and third with no outs in the fourth inning Sunday, and the
But Efren Navarro flied to shallow left, with the runners holding.
"When you're not swinging the bats, every category will show as a negative, whether it's hitting with runners in scoring position or situational hitting," Manager
"We have a lot of guys who are obviously struggling right now. We need to keep pushing forward, get some hits to fall in and maybe try to do a little less. We've been grinding. These guys are playing hard. No doubt, they feel it."
There were some encouraging signs over the weekend, as Mike Trout snapped an 0-for-10 skid with four hits, including two homers, in two games against Boston, and Albert Pujols hit a two-run double and game-winning homer in the 19th inning Saturday night.
But Hamilton, the team's cleanup batter, is in deep slump, with one hit in 24 at-bats, 10 strikeouts and no walks in six games, his average falling from .288 to .265.
"There's not one magic pill that will get it going," Scioscia said. "Some guys need to work extra, some guys maybe need to not pick up a bat and just refresh, and some guys need to change the concept of what they're doing."
Hitting coaches Don Baylor and Dave Hansen "are doing a good job of not junking things that are working for some guys just because you get into a little funk," Scioscia added. "We're going to score runs. Right now, we're not as deep as we need to be. But these guys will respond."