If the Angels have only four days left in their season, this was the day that will haunt them.
Four errors. Seven unearned runs. One critical loss.
As the Angels dressed and hurried to catch a plane Wednesday evening after an 8-7 setback to the Oakland Athletics, they did so with a curious amount of levity.
For one, it was the annual rookie dress-up day. Each rookie had to wear a squirrel costume — and inflate the tail by himself.
More important, the Angels had played about as hideous a game as they could, and still they controlled their postseason destiny, if somewhat uncomfortably.
“A lot of people are packing to go home,” Albert Pujols said. “We’ve still got a pretty good chance.”
The Angels trail the Houston Astros by one-half game for the last wild-card spot in the American League. They trail the Texas Rangers by three games in the AL West, but they play the final four games of the regular season against the Rangers.
“There aren’t too many times where a third-place team would still have a chance to win the division,” pitcher Joe Smith said.
The Angels’ seven-game winning streak ended Wednesday, in a game they could have won, a game they should have won.
They got five home runs, tying a season high. Mike Trout hit his 41st home run, the second-highest in club history behind Troy Glaus, who hit 47 in 2000. Kole Calhoun, David Freese, Johnny Giavotella and Carlos Perez also homered.
They got six solid innings from Garrett Richards, who gave up no earned runs and two hits. They got an out from Smith, in his first appearance since spraining an ankle and sitting out 11 days.
And they made four errors, a season high at the most unfortunate of times.
They had given up 36 unearned runs this season, an average of six per month. On Wednesday, they gave up seven.
“We’ve given up the fewest unearned runs in the league,” Angels Manager Mike Scioscia said. “It seems like we gave them all back this afternoon.”
The Angels were nine outs from victory, with a 5-3 lead. Richards had made 108 pitches, so Mike Morin came on in relief.
Taylor Featherston came on as a defensive replacement at second base. The first ball in the inning was hit to Featherston, who booted it for an error.
“He makes that play every day,” Morin said. “Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to pick him up.”
After an out, a walk and a single to load the bases, the Angels turned to right-hander Trevor Gott.
Gott, a rookie who started this season at double A, made his 71st appearance this year. In his previous two pro seasons, he made no more than 52 appearances.
Mark Canha dropped a bloop single and Gott walked home a run, and the score was tied, 5-5.
One out later, Josh Reddick singled home two more runs, and the A’s led, 7-5. The Angels would not lead again, although they did get the tying run on base in the ninth inning.
“He was throwing bullets out there,” Scioscia said of Gott. “We didn’t get the job done on the defensive side. I don’t think you’re going to look at anything the pitchers did.”
And so the Angels headed for Texas, not as upset as a fan might have expected but well aware of the imposing challenge that lies ahead.
“I’ve been saying this for the past week,” Trout said. “We’ve got to win every game.”
Said Pujols: “Hopefully, we win four games in a row, and we end up winning the division.”
And then the squirrels and their veteran teammates left for the airport, for what they hoped would not be their last trip of the year.
Follow Bill Shaikin on Twitter @BillShaikin