The Angels will open a big four-game series against the defending American League-champion Kansas City Royals on Thursday night with the momentum of a Galapagos tortoise.
Their offense ground to a virtual halt again Wednesday night in a 3-2, 13-inning loss to the Chicago White Sox, whose three-game sweep in U.S. Cellular Field extended the Angels' road losing streak to nine games, their longest since 1993.
Five Angels relievers — Fernando Salas, Joe Smith, Trevor Gott, Jose Alvarez and Huston Street — combined for 61/3 scoreless innings to give the Angels a chance, but Jose Abreu opened the 13th inning with a single and scored on Avisail Garcia's double to left-center field off Cesar Ramos to give Chicago the walk-off win.
"We lost that game long before the 13th inning," Manager Mike Scioscia said. "We had a lot of opportunities. We didn't execute on a number of fronts, the biggest with runners in scoring position."
The Angels have lost 14 of 19 to fall two games behind Houston in the American League West, and they're batting .218 and averaging 3.3 runs a game in that span.
They went one for 32 with runners in scoring position in the series and 0 for 15 on Wednesday night, the height of their frustration coming in the top of the 13th, when Johnny Giavotella opened with an infield single and took second on reliever Matt Albers' throwing error.
Giavotella took third on Conor Gillaspie's grounder to second, but with the infield in, catcher Chris Iannetta, who entered the game in the ninth, struck out, extending a three-for-40 slump, and David DeJesus, who entered in the 10th, grounded to second to end the inning.
"It was a tough series for us the entire way through," said Giavotella, who popped out to second with runners on first and third and one out in the second. "We couldn't put anything together offensively. I came up first and third with one out and flew out to the second baseman. It's unacceptable.
"We had a bunch of chances to score and didn't execute. We're better than that. We take pride in playing hard and taking advantage of opportunities, and we didn't do that in this series."
Now, all the Angels will have to contend with is a Kansas City club that has an AL-best 68-45 record, 39-20 home mark, and has won 16 of 20 games in Kauffman Stadium. The Royals also swept the Angels in last season's division series and swept a three-game series in Anaheim in early April.
"We have to stay positive," center fielder Mike Trout said. "We can't hang our heads. We have 50 games left."
The Angels will have a much better chance against the Royals if Trout finds his swing.
Since missing two games because of an injury to his left wrist in late July, Trout is batting .196 (10 for
51) with four extra-base hits, 17 strikeouts and eight walks in 13 games, his average falling from .315 to .300.
Trout admitted Wednesday that the wrist was "bothering me for about a week" after the injury but said before the game that he was 100%. "It's fine," he said. "I'm good."
So, what's going on at the plate?
"It's timing, I'm not getting my [front] foot down, I'm just in between," Trout said.
"That's baseball. That's the way it goes."
Like most Angels, Trout is pressing too.
"I can't go up there trying to do too much every time," he said. "That's when you get in trouble, when you're trying to get that big hit."
Right-hander Garrett Richards (11-9, 3.51 ERA) will oppose Kansas City right-hander Jeremy Guthrie (8-7, 5.84) at Kauffman Stadium on Thursday at 5 p.m. PDT. TV: FS West; Radio: 830, 1220.