Angels' awful August gets no better

Angels' awful August gets no better
Toronto's Jose Bautista, right, scores past Angels catcher Carlos Perez, left, and relief pitcher Fernando Salas during the eighth inning on Saturday night. (Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

With the Houston Astros threatening to turn the American League West race into a rout, this is probably as good a time as any to assess the Angels' situation.

Spoiler alert: It's not a good one.


After Saturday's 15-3 shellacking by the Toronto Blue Jays, the defending division champions trail Houston by 4 1/2 games, their biggest deficit since July 3. And with Texas beating Detroit earlier in the day, the Angels aren't even in position to claim a wild-card playoff berth since the Rangers have passed them in both the division standings and in the battle for the second and final consolation invitation to the postseason.

And that left fuses a little short in the Angels dugout. After giving up two hits in a scoreless -- and largely meaningless -- ninth inning, reliever Huston Street lit his, screaming at everything and everyone in the Angel dugout.

"I hate losing. I hate losing like this," Street said after regaining his composure. "Sometimes you just have to get in people's . . . .

"This is frustrating. There needs to be a sense of urgency. Guys need to feel that. And I wanted people to at least hear or feel it. Because it's time."

That's what one brutal month can do to your season -- and your closer's temper. On July 23, the Angels woke up with a two-game division lead and a record that was 14 games over .500.

On Sunday they woke up in third place for the first time since June, tied for the fewest wins in the league this month and fading faster than Chris Christie's presidential hopes.

"I'll be concerned when we're eliminated," Street said. "That doesn't change the fact that you get mad. We're better than what we're playing. We're making silly mistakes, silly errors, silly decisions with the baseball.

"We're a better baseball team than this. You have to hate to lose. It's sickening really."

Saturday's game was a good CliffsNotes version of how things have gone lately for the Angels, who have endured three separate three-game losing streaks in August.

On the mound, they had rookie left-hander Andrew Heaney, arguably their best starter since the All-Star break. He lasted just 3 1/3 innings, the shortest start of his Angel career.

On one pitch in the third inning to Josh Donaldson, Heaney gave up more runs -- three -- than he had surrendered in nine of his previous 10 starts. And by the time he left the game one out into Toronto's seven-run fourth inning, he had been tagged for a career-worst eight runs.

That helped the Blue Jays take a 10-0 lead before the Angels had their second hit. Toronto would go on to set season highs for runs and hits (20). If the game had been a title fight, the referee would have stopped it. Not only have Angels been defenseless lately, giving up 32 runs in their last three games, but they've been punchless this month as well: Their .213/.272/.344 slashline is the worst in baseball in August.

Manager Mike Scioscia tried to shake the team from its lethargy by shaking up his batting order, moving Kole Calhoun, Mike Trout and Albert Pujols up one place each and batting David Murphy (seven home runs, 34 runs batted in) cleanup.

But Scioscia admitted it would take more than that to turn around the team.


"We need to just take this one step at a time and get simple with a lot of the things we're doing. And hopefully get back into our game," he said.

"If we're just waiting for Mike and Albert to do this, it's not going to happen. We have to be more than Mike and Albert. We believe we're a team that is deeper. And we need it now."

On Saturday, the Blue Jays offered a good example of how it's supposed to be done. In addition to his third-inning homer, his 34th this season, Donaldson also had a run-scoring single in the fourth and an RBI double in the fifth, giving him four hits and a career-high six RBIs -- and a baseball-leading 100 RBIs for the season.

Jose Bautista and Chris Colabello had three hits each -- one of Bautista's was a two-run triple in the fourth while Colabello had a three-run homer in the eighth. Four other Blue Jays also had multiple hits.

The Angels registered a murmur of protest in the fifth inning with C.J. Cron and Kaleb Cowart hitting solo homers. For Coward, the home run was his first major league hit.

"Right now we have to, in house, circle our wagons and get our game in order," Scioscia said. "We have to do some things better on the mound then we've done in these [last] two games."

Up next

Right-hander Garrett Richards (12-9, 3.50 ERA) will close the Angels' homestand on Sunday when goes up against Toronto knuckleballer R.A. Dickey (7-10, 4.14) at Angel Stadium in a 12:30 p.m matinee. TV: FS West; Radio: 830, 1330.