Angels equally ‘baffled’ by slow start …
Confused by the Angels’ slow start?
So are they.
“We’re just not clicking,” center fielder Peter Bourjos said. “It’s either the offense doesn’t do anything, or the pitching struggles. Right now it’s a little bit of both. It’s amazing. It’s baffling.”
“It’s just not clicking like we’d like it to,” first baseman Albert Pujols said. “We don’t want to play like this, either, but it’s part of the game. We just need to keep pushing, keep going, and try to do whatever it takes to come out of whatever we’re going through right now.”
Let me throw some numbers at you …
- The Angels’ 2-8 start to the season ties for the worst start in franchise history. The only other time they lost eight of their first 10 games? 1961, the expansion year, on their way to a 70-91 finish.
- The Angels have never started a season 0-5 at home. They’re 0-4 right now.
- They’ve lost five straight games, just got swept by the A’s at home for the first time since 2001 — getting outscored, 28-11, in the process — and are already 6 1/2 games out while in last place in the American League West.
- Last year’s start: 4-7.
- The offense came into the game with a Major League-worst batting average with runners in scoring position. That wasn’t a problem on Friday — because not a single runner reached scoring position against Bud Norris, who had a 6.94 ERA on the road last season and proceeded to throw seven shutout innings.
- The starting pitcher has allowed a first-inning run in four out of the Angels’ last five games. In seven of their last nine, they’ve failed to score first.
“I’ve always been told that starting pitching sets the tone, and I didn’t set the tone,” Tommy Hanson said after a start in which he gave up three first-inning runs while struggling to get on the same page with catcher Hank Conger. Postgame, Angels manager Mike Scioscia pointed to that as the biggest reason why the Angels have struggled.
Through 10 games, the Angels have yet to have a starting pitcher record an out in the seventh inning. Think about that.
“We’re getting behind early, and when you get behind early, it really gives the other team a chance to match up and use their bullpen,” Scioscia said. “It really gives their starter some breathing room so he can pound the zone and change speeds at will and not worry about the one mistake. The heartbeat of your club is your starting pitching, and when your starting pitching isn’t getting to a certain point in the game, it makes it very, very tough to not only get roles established in the bullpen, but for your offense to get rolling and do some of the things we can do.”
Here’s my biggest takeaway from Friday: I never felt like the Angels had a chance to come back. I remember feeling that last April, as the offense struggled and the Angels were on their way to a 6-14 start. It just didn’t seem like they had any life, any fire — any belief. I know it always feels that way when you’re not hitting, but there just seems to be an overall lethargy on this team right now.
It was clear in the ninth, when a throw in to second base bounced off the glove of Howie Kendrick and allowed the runner to take second. And when Josh Hamilton forgot how many outs there were on a foul pop-up and was doubled off at first base.
“I think we’ll be OK, man,” Pujols insisted. “This is a good test that we’re going through right now. I think at the end, we’re going to come out on top.”
Heading into the season, all the talk about the Angels centered on getting off to a better start. But Bourjos had an interesting counter-point …
“Obviously you can look at that. But we didn’t play well down the stretch in September. We [lost three of four at home against the A’s in September]. That shouldn’t happen to a team that’s supposed to make the playoffs. It’s a long year, we’re going to be fine. We just have to go out and battle.”