All season, Mike Scioscia has brought every broad question about the Angels' season back to one word he loves so much: process. So, when the manager was asked Tuesday afternoon if he felt his team was running out of time to start winning games at a faster rate, his answer was not surprising.
"I give that absolutely no thought at all," Scioscia said. "A run is only created through the process. The process is critical right now."
His players do not take the same approach.
"Everybody talks about it," said closer Huston Street, who blew the save in the team's latest loss, 3-2, to Houston at Minute Maid Park. "We all talk about what could happen, what will happen. But I think it's a simple formula. If you win, they are going to keep the team together. If you don't win, then you have no control. There's plenty of time to win. I'm not going to start doubting guys.
"The No. 1 thing is to get to .500. When you get to .500, then you can get there."
The trade deadline is six weeks away, and the Angels are nine games under .500. They have won 31 of 71 games. Fangraphs.com estimates their odds of making the playoffs at 1%.
Up one run in the ninth Tuesday, Street loaded the bases with no out on two walks and a sharp single, then had a 3-2 count against Carlos Correa. He threw a fastball, Correa hit it to the wall, and the game was over.
Street has struggled on the spare occasions he's pitched since he was activated from the disabled list May 30. He has pitched five innings over six appearances, struck out two men, and walked six. But he allowed runs in only two of those outings, and for that reason, he said, he's unconcerned.
"I get that other people don't think about it that way, but I am pretty sure I know how to think about it," Street said.
Without Albert Pujols, who received his first full day off of the season, the Angels scored once in the first inning. The first three men reached base and Mike Trout stole second, putting two runners in scoring position without an out, but Daniel Nava and C.J. Cron struck out, and Jefry Marte grounded out.
They scored again on Cron's 467-foot home run in the fourth.
Angels starter Hector Santiago served up two long flies in the first inning. Neither left the field, and Trout sprinted up Tal's Hill in center to secure the latter. Santiago relied on flyouts throughout his night, and only once did a drive depart the ballpark: a fifth-inning smash off Correa's bat.
Otherwise, Santiago worked efficiently against the Astros' aggressive offense. "When I throw strikes," he said, "my stuff plays."
Kole Calhoun helped him in the third inning by firing a strike to second to nix Luis Valbuena's attempt at a double. Santiago then helped himself, catching Jake Marisnick off first base for the Angels' league-leading 15th pickoff.
Santiago yielded a double to Marwin Gonzalez to begin the seventh, at which point right-hander Cam Bedrosian quickly readied in the bullpen. Santiago struck out Jose Altuve and had only thrown 80 pitches, but Scioscia opted against another matchup with Correa and pulled him. "He might've had a little left in him, but he still had to work hard to get there," Scioscia said. "He pitched with his back against the wall."
Bedrosian walked a man but tiptoed out of the inning. Fernando Salas handled the eighth without issue. Street handled the ninth with much, but maintained afterward that his team retained the chance to contend because 91 games remain to be played.
"You can come up with all the possible scenarios as a player," Street said. "That doesn't do you any good. All that really matters is the same stupid cliche: Go out there and do your best, help the team win. As dumb as that sounds, as boring as it reads, that's what makes the great players great."