Los Angeles Angels Lose Ground to Division Rivals


Jun 1, 2014; Oakland, CA, USA; Los Angeles Angels infielder Albert Pujols (5) loses control of the bat after fouling off a pitch against the Oakland Athletics in the fifth inning at O.co Coliseum. The Athletics defeated the Angels 6-3. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Record: 30-26 overall (2-2 at Seattle Mariners, 0-3 at Oakland A’s last week)

Highlights: For a team that hasn’t sniffed first place in over three years, the beginning of a crucial road trip didn’t inspire confidence. Better performances over the last week came in losses.

C.J. Wilson shut out Seattle over the last five frames of his May 28 outing, yielding three runs over 7 2/3 innings. Felix Hernandez just pitched a little better. Wilson has tossed over 100 pitches in ever start this year and ranks 10th in the AL with a 3.05 ERA.

Erick Aybar has come a long way since his season low .175 batting average in mid-April. He’s 9-for-29 over the last week with three extra-base this and two stolen bases. C.J. Cron’s increased playing time over Raul Ibanez is a result of his power over the last 24 games. The rookie first baseman has a home run, triple, and four RBIs over the last week; achieving back-to-back multi-hit games in Seattle.

Lowlights: One week ago, the Angels trailed Oakland by 1 ½ games for the AL West division lead. Today they sit 4 ½ back after losing five of the last seven.

A 10-game road trip began against a Seattle team that swept the Angels opening week. Hernandez and Chris Young single-handedly won two games, each allowing one run or less. “King Felix” nearly pitched a complete game shutout before the Halos scraped together a run in the ninth last Wednesday.

Oakland’s pitching staff leads the junior circuit in wins, ERA, quality starts, and opponent batting average. This past weekend, the Angels found out why.

Garrett Richards gave up a first inning grand slam en route to a 9-5 loss Friday. Drew Pomeranz -the fourth starter in a potent Oakland rotation-gave up five runs before being pulled in the fifth inning. Unfortunately, Wade LeBlanc allowed four additional runs in relief of Richards. He was designated for assignment shortly after.

Tommy Milone and Sonny Gray completed the three-game sweep by limiting batters to three runs in each of their respective starts. The Halos left seven men on base in each game.

Player of the week: Mike Trout was in the midst of an 11-game hitting streak before he was sidelined with back stiffness. His batting average (.294) has risen by 34 points over the streak, gathering 17 hits with three home runs, 10 RBIs, and five walks in the span.

On May 29, Trout went 3-for-3 with two RBIs against Seattle in the Angels’ 7-5 win. it was his 18th multi-hit game this season, raising his slash line to .291/.380/.538.

Injury report: Trout missed a second straight game Sunday with upper back stiffness. He was a late scratch Saturday but expects to play in Tuesday’s series opener with Houston.

Josh Hamilton is also on track for a midweek return following left thumb surgery. He was expected back last week but felt discomfort in his second rehabilitation game with Triple-A Salt Lake.

Limited to 13 games last season, reliever Sean Burnett returned to the DL last week after reinjuring his left elbow. Burnett, whose undergone multiple surgeries on his left arm, is not expected back this season. He signed a two-year, $8 million contract with the Angels two offseason ago that includes a team option for a third.

Dane De La Rosa allowed a run on two hits with Triple-A Salt Lake on Saturday. The right-hander injured his shoulder in a spring training game against the Dodgers and has faced multiple setback since. De La Rosa has only appeared once this season, allowing two runs in 1/3 of an inning.

Up next: Coming off five of seven losses to AL West opponents, this week’s three-game series with the Astros is a welcomed sight. Next weekend, the Chicago White Sox make their only appearance to the “Big A.”