Aug. 1 in Texas — more than just 1 of 162? …
You remember that game, right? The Angels, up six at one point, blew a one-run lead in the ninth, then a three-run lead in the 10th, capped by a walk-off single by Elvis Andrus off Jason Isringhausen. Had the Angels won that night, they would’ve taken the first three on the road against the Rangers, moved to two games back in the American League West — representing their shortest deficit since way back on April 11 — and put themselves 11 games over .500 for the first time all season.
But they lost. Then they lost the next night, finishing with a split against the Rangers. Then they proceeded to drop two of three against the White Sox, Athletics and, most recently, Mariners, putting them 3-7 since that Texas heartbreak. Now, they’re eight back in the AL West (largest deficit since May 22) and only five games above .500 (least since June 19). The Rangers, meanwhile, are 7-3 since that game, having just taken back-to-back games against a talented Tigers team.
After that Aug. 1 game at Rangers Ballpark, Torii Hunter dropped his oft-used line and talked about how the Angels “need to have amnesia.” Tough game, heartbreaking, but they needed to flip the page.
Easier said than done, though.
Sometimes one loss — especially a loss like that one — can linger a little longer than others.
Was that the case with the Aug. 1 defeat?
Albert Pujols didn’t believe so when asked about it after Sunday’s 4-1 loss to the Mariners.
“You can point at that, but I don’t think so because we came back the next day and scored nine runs. We fought back,” Pujols said. “I don’t think so. You can look at the series in Texas and that game, but we went to Chicago and put ourselves in position to win the series, too. We went to Oakland and we did the same thing. I wish we would know what it is. It’s the same thing I tell myself — ‘What happened two weeks ago? I was killing everything. And now the same pitch, I’m missing it, fouling it off, hitting a groundball.’ And I just laugh at myself. I think that’s the beautiful thing about this game, that sometimes when you think you have it figured out, you don’t.”
This is just one theory about why the Angels are struggling again. Others have asked whether they expended so much energy coming back from their April funk that they’ve now hit a proverbial wall. And the numbers will tell you that it’s the pitching staff — with an AL-worst 6.04 ERA since July 30 — that’s mostly responsible.
After Sunday’s loss, manager Mike Scioscia called a meeting to bring some perspective to his team.
The message: As bad as they’ve played, they’re only two games out of a playoff spot (the second Wild Card).
“We just need to continue to push and know that we’re a pretty good ballclub,” Pujols said. “Every ballclub goes through this. I mean, Texas just went through this, Oakland — everybody. Everybody has to go through this for you to be a championship ballclub. If everything is roses, then there’s nothing to help you grow and get better at. Because when the tough situation comes, how can you handle that? I think what we went through in April, we handled it pretty well and we got into a good groove, now we’re [struggling] again. We’ve been there before, and we know that there’s no time to panic or anything. There’s still a lot of baseball left.”
The Angels hope there aren’t any more games like Aug. 1 left.