Angels owner Arte Moreno was not thrilled with Houston’s move to the American League West because the Astros are two time zones away, they’re not a natural rival, and they probably won’t be much of a draw at the gate.
Moreno’s players, coaches and manager probably don’t share those sentiments. The Astros will play their first division game in Angel Stadium on Friday night, and the guys in the home dugout, though they’d never admit it publicly, will be ecstatic.
Finally, a team the Angels can compete with. Maybe.
The Angels were no match for the defending division-champion Oakland Athletics, who completed a three-game sweep -- and extended their win streak to eight -- with an 8-1 thumping of the Angels on Thursday night.
A.J. Griffin allowed one run and five hits in eight innings, and the A’s broke open a 1-1 game with four runs in the sixth on Josh Donaldson’s two-run homer off starter Jason Vargas and Chris Young’s two-run double off reliever Kevin Jepsen.
Yoenis Cespedes added a homer off left-hander Sean Burnett in the seventh, and the A’s scored two more runs off Jerome Williams in the ninth to cap their first sweep in Anaheim since 2001. Oakland outscored the Angels 28-11 in the series.
“Those guys are really hot -- they have six or seven guys swinging the bat well,” designated hitter Mark Trumbo said. “They have all the momentum; we hardly have any. You just have to wear it sometimes.”
The Angels fell to 2-7, their worst start since going 1-8 to open their inaugural 1961 season, and they are already 51/2 games behind the first-place A’s.
They lost Jered Weaver on Tuesday morning to a fractured left elbow that will sideline the ace for four to six weeks. Shortstop Erick Aybar hasn’t played since leaving Tuesday night’s game because of a bruised left heel, and he’ll probably miss a few more games.
And Thursday night, third baseman Alberto Callaspo, who was moved to the leadoff spot, with Mike Trout moving from leadoff to the second spot, left in the eighth inning because of tightness in his right calf. He is listed as day to day.
“We have a lot of things we’re working on right now,” Manager Mike Scioscia said when asked about potential roster moves. “In some form, no doubt, we need a little more depth.”
The Angels have not had a starter pitch into the seventh inning in nine games, and that’s putting a strain on a bullpen that lost Garrett Richards to the rotation this week and hasn’t been up to the task, allowing 16 earned runs in 182/3 innings in the last six games.
“The relievers have been out there a lot, but these guys haven’t been overextended,” Scioscia said. “They just haven’t gotten it done.”
Hosting the Astros can’t hurt. Houston is coming off 106- and 107-loss seasons and has a $26-million payroll filled with many young players who have looked overmatched this season.
“You have to be optimistic because we have too much talent not to be,” Trumbo said. “It’s very unfortunate, the place we’re in, but that’s the reality. We have to keep grinding away until we click and start taking it to people.”