It must be pretty darn tough to be an Angel fan these days as, to put it mildly, things haven’t gone well at all for Anaheim’s Halos these past few weeks.
After their 8-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays at Angel Stadium on Sunday, which completed a 3-7 home stand and a four-game sweep at the hands of former bench coach Joe Maddon’s team and included being outscored 55-22 in the process, Mike Scioscia’s squad, after losing 13 out of their last 18 games, now sits not in second place in the American League West, but in third.
As in a whopping nine games behind first place Texas, and four games behind the second place Oakland A’s with a record of 62-60.
They’re even four and a half games behind for the Wild Card, trailing Tampa Bay and Baltimore in fifth place.
Considering that these Angels were favored to go to the World Series when the season started because of the arrival of Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson (more on him and the rest of the pitching staff in a moment), the fact that they are where they are has been very disconcerting for every red-clad Halo fan.
The worst part of this Rays sweep was, it came as the Angels were celebrating the ten-year anniversary of their 2002 World Championship, honoring players such as Garret Anderson, Tim Salmon, and Troy Percival and inducting that team into the Angels’ Hall of Fame.
The overwhelming reason for the Angels’ recent failures can be traced to one factor: Pitching.
Or, more accurately, a lack of it as their earned run average since the All-Star break is currently 5.66 – which is the second worst in baseball.
The biggest example of that was on Saturday night, the night that the 2002 team was honored, when the Angels blew an 8-0 lead and, punctuated by Carlos Pena’s towering two-run home run that broke an 8-8 tie, lost to the Rays 10-8 as the pitchers’ performance was about as bad as one can get.
This was on the heels of Angel ace Jered Weaver having his worst outing of the year and possibly his career, giving up eight runs in losing to the Rays on Friday night after Dan Haren was his usual (as of late) Charlie Brown-like self in losing on Thursday night.
Not to pick on Haren, as all of the Angel pitchers have been throwing like that round-headed kid. Without the line drives tearing off their clothes, of course.
Zack Greinke, the 2009 American League Cy Young Award winner who as the top pitcher available was acquired by the Angels before the trade deadline, has been a complete bust to this point as in his five starts as an Angel, his record is 1-2 with an embarrassing 6.19 ERA. He was smacked around once again for six runs and seven hits in six innings on Sunday.
All-in-all, the Angels’ starters have combined to 3-7 with a 6.53 ERA this month. And the bullpen has been worse – converting two saves out of seven save opportunities in August makes for a good argument there.
Which will not bode well for the rest of the season as the old baseball adage, “If you don’t have good pitching, you don’t have a good team” completely rings true in this case.
They can’t keep depending on Mike Trout’s home run-robbing catches to bail them out; if things don’t improve on the mound and quick, these Halos will officially be baseball’s biggest disappointments.
It remains to be seen whether or not things will turn around when they head for Fenway Park in Boston to play the Red Sox this week, followed by a trip to Detroit to face the Tigers next weekend.