Angels distressingly stuck at .500 with one game remaining before All-Star break

Angels first baseman Hunter Renfroe is out at second as Dodgers shortstop Miguel Rojas throws to first.
Angels first baseman Hunter Renfroe is tagged out at second as Dodgers shortstop Miguel Rojas throws to first for a double play in the fifth inning at Dodger Stadium on Friday.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

Unless the topic is career home runs, 500 is nothing to aspire to in a major league clubhouse.

Put a dot in front of the five, and the meaning is unmistakable mediocrity. The number indicates winning percentage, and .500 translates as the same number of losses as wins.

Consternation is especially acute as the All-Star break approaches, the season slightly more than half over, a break in the schedule that invites reflection. And .500 suggests that the sweat, blood and tears expended nightly through April, May, June and into July has the team no better or worse than it started opening day.


Mike Trout (wrist) could miss 4-8 weeks, and fellow Angels star Shohei Ohtani left his start with a blister and might not pitch in the All-Star Game.

July 5, 2023

After losing to the Dodgers, 11-4, Friday night at Dodger Stadium, the Angels are stuck at that distressing number with one Freeway Series game remaining ahead of the break that will include the All-Star Game on Tuesday, the Home Run Derby on Monday and the Futures Game and Day 1 of the amateur draft Sunday, all of it in Seattle.

The front office dislikes .500 perhaps more than the players because it can result in indecision as the Aug. 1 trade deadline approaches. A record well above or below even provides marching orders for a general manager to buy or sell.

A manager must muster a smile and insist his team is on the verge of a surge, even if it is in the midst of a tailspin. The Angels have lost eight of nine.

“We’ve struggled, obviously, the last week and a half,” Angels manager Phil Nevin said. “Every team goes through these things. There are ups and downs.

“Everything we want is still right in front of us. We’re going to get Mike [Trout] back.”

The Angels lost 5-3 to the Padres Wednesday in San Diego, completing a sweep paired with injuries to Mike Trout, Shohei Ohtani and Anthony Rendon.

July 5, 2023

Trout had surgery Wednesday to repair a hamate bone fracture on his left wrist and is expected to miss four to eight weeks. Nevin did his best to minimize the blow of losing a three-time American League MVP, saying Trout’s return will feel like a “trade deadline acquisition.”


But he’s not the only hurt Halo. The Angels have 14 players on the injured list, second-most in MLB to the Dodgers’ 15.

And the list doesn’t include third baseman Anthony Rendon, who didn’t start Friday after fouling a ball off his left shin Tuesday, or Taylor Ward, who pulled a groin Friday chasing a double by Miguel Rojas in the eighth inning. The Angels expect Rendon to be healthy when the schedule resumes after the break, and putting him on the IL would sideline him for 10 days.

Meanwhile, they are short-handed while falling back to .500 for the 12th time this season. That’s right, they were 1-1, 5-5, 7-7, 8-8, 9-9, 10-10, 11-11, 12-12, 14-14, 22-22 and 30-30.

They are 45-45 and near the bottom of a cluster of teams battling for the three wild-card berths. The Baltimore Orioles and Houston Astros head the group, and the New York Yankees and Toronto Blue Jays are also comfortably ahead of the Angels.

Reid Detmers may only have a 2-5 record but there’s no Angels pitcher who is performing better these days. On Sunday, he helped them end a four-game slide.

July 2, 2023

Furthermore, the Boston Red Sox are in last place in the AL East but ahead of the Angels in the wild-card race. And after wins Friday, the Seattle Mariners are one game above .500 and the Cleveland Guardians are at .500.

“The next couple weeks [are important] and we’ll see where we are at,” Trout said. “I’ll do whatever I can to get back as fast as I can.”


One Angel enjoyed a respite from worrying about the big picture. Closer Carlos Estévez was named to his first All-Star Game, replacing Guardians closer Emmanuel Clase, who has the birth of a child imminent.

“We play this game for a lot of years to get this [All-Star] experience,” said Estévez, who has set a franchise record by converting all 21 save chances to begin the season. “Nevin told us in front of everybody. I had no clue.”

Tim Fletcher, who died earlier this month, was always there for sons David and Dominic. They faced off at Angel Stadium Friday with heavy hearts.

June 30, 2023

Estévez will have a chance to use the commemorative All-Star glove sent to him by his equipment manufacturer to improve his mood when it appeared he’d been snubbed.

Estévez, 30, spent the first six years of his career with the Colorado Rockies putting up pedestrian numbers. Asked what keyed his turnaround with the Angels, he said, “Honestly, sea level, man. It really rough to pitch in Colorado.”

Sea level is also slang for .500, and the Angels can only hope they can ascend to something akin to mile high rarefied air in the standings even without Trout.