By Pete ZarusticaGarden Grove Journal
It may not be over until it’s over, but even with 40 or so games left to go, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim clearly are hitting a bit of a wall in their bid for the American League West title. In fact, that’s just about all they’re hitting.
The Halos, hot for a while over the All-Star break, moved to within one game of the AL West lead, but a disasterous road trip has changed it all. After losing four of six on the road in New York and Toronto, the Angels came home Monday to start a four-game series in Anaheim against the first place Texas Rangers.
Losing 8-4 to the visitors left the Halos five games back. Is the proverbial fat lady starting to warm up?
“We don’t want to think like that,” said Torii Hunter. “I don’t even like to talk about that, actually. Most of these guys are young. We have a lot of young guys on the squad and they’ve never been in a pennant race, so you have to go and talk to them and try to keep them upbeat and not let them get caught up in the hype of everything.”
The Angels pitching has been more than respectable, but the Halo hitting hasn’t. Entering the Ranger series, the boys from Anaheim have been batting .219 since the All-Star break, the worst in the major leagues.
On Tuesday it all fell apart as the Rangers rang up a 7-3 win to extend their lead to six games in the AL West. For the Angels, it was their six loss in seven games, and guaranteed they could now do no better than split this four-game series.
The Halos fell behind 5-0 before scoring, and only a two-run rally in the bottom of the ninth kept the final score from being even uglier than it was.
Torii Hunter continued his hot streak for the locals, with two hits and a run scored, but there wasn’t much else going offensively for the Angels, who were outhit 17-9.
Angel pitching wasn’t any better, as starter Tyler Chatwood gave up eight hits and five runs in less than three innings of work. His record dropped to 1-5.
“A week ago we were looking right up at these guys,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “We were within striking distance, but we’ve had a rough six or seven games that carried over from that trip into this series. But it can turn in a heartbeat. And that’s what we have to keep our focus on — how we play the game.
“They beat up on some of our young pitching the last couple of days. Hopefully we’re going to get Ervin and ‘Weave’ back out there and get right back into this series and this race. So we have to keep perspective.”
The series continued Wednesday night (results too late for our deadline) and concludes today (Thursday). After that, the Baltimore Orioles will be in town Friday through Sunday. Monday is a day off, and then the Chicago White Sox come to Anaheim from games Tuesday and Wednesday.
After losing two of three to the Yankees in the Bronx, things really went south for the Halos against the Blue Jays. On Saturday, their best pitcher, Jered Weaver, was hammered for three home runs and eight earned runs in less than five innings.
“Mama said there’d be days like this,” said Weaver. The day ended up as an 11-2 loss for the Angels.
The tipping point of the Toronto series came Sunday when the Halos lost 5-4 in 10 innings. Leading 4-3 in the ninth, the Angels let the Jays tie it, then lost on an RBI single by Edwin Takahashi in the bottom of the 10th.
Monday’s loss to the Rangers added to the misery. Nelson Cruz and former Angel Mike Napoli hit back-to-back homers in a six-run fifth inning that more or less sealed the outcome of that game, although the Angels would eat into that 8-1 lead.