Los Angeles Angels hang tough vs. Houston, but little things prove costly in series loss

BALTIMORE, MD - AUGUST 18: Albert Pujols
BALTIMORE, MD - AUGUST 18: Albert Pujols /
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I am not one to be critical very often especially when it comes to talking about the Los Angeles Angels.  However, this last week has been particularly frustrating to watch as the Angels have had numerous chances, but can’t capitalize.

The Los Angeles Angels came into this past week riding high as they were on top of the second spot in the wild-card standings.  They were also back home for a 10-game homestand.  Unfortunately things have not gone so well thus far.  The Angels dropped three of four games to Texas and then lost two of three games to Houston.  They now sit 1.5 games in back of the Minnesota Twins in the race for the final wild-card spot.

There are many reasons for the team’s recent struggles such as inconsistent starting pitching, lack of clutch hitting, two bad bullpen outings. In recent weeks the Angels have seen the return of Tyler Skaggs and Andrew Heaney after lengthy absences due to injuries.  Unfortunately it has not been such a happy return for either as both have struggled to get on track.

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Skaggs has been very inconsistent since returning in early August.  Skaggs has gone 0-3 with a 4.56 ERA and a 1.48 WHIP.  Skaggs has only lasted six or more innings one time in five starts.  On Monday against the Rangers, Skaggs gave up four runs in 5.1 innings as the Angels lost to the Rangers 5-3.  Then on Saturday he struggled again falling behind 5-1 before exiting after five innings.  The Angels were able to rally from a 6-1 deficit to win that night 7-6.  However, the fact remains that the Angels need to get more from Skaggs.

Heaney has been a similar story since returning from the DL. In two starts Heaney has been rocked for nine runs including seven homers.  He has an ERA of 8.10 and a WHIP of 1.50.  In addition opponents are batting .341 against the lefty.

While it is great t have both Skaggs and Heaney back, they both need to get it together for the Angels to hang in this race.  Heaney will take the mound tonight against Oakland in hopes of putting together a good start.  The Angels will need it as they gave fallen out of the wild-card lead.

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As for the bullpen, it has been pretty decent this week, with the exception of Wednesday and Sunday.  In Wednesday game the bullpen started out strong, keeping the Angels in the game when Heaney fell behind 4-0.  However, in extra innings and the score tied at four the bullpen imploded at the worst time. After four scoreless innings by Yusmeiro Petit, Blake Parker, and Bud Norris, Eduardo Paredes struggled.  Paredes gave up three runs on three hits and the Angels had another disappointing loss 7-5.  .

Yesterday it was Cam Bedrosian‘s turn.  With the Angels having rallied from 4-0 to take a 5-4 lead, Bedrosian came in to close it down. Unfortunately it was enough as the Astros

This brings me to my last reason for the slump.  Lack of hitting to drive in runs when the need arises.  In the 7-5 extra inning loss the Angels had multiple chances to take the lead and could not do it.  Mike Trout and Albert Pujols have been the biggest culprits. Pujols has left 17 men on base in the four Angel losses since Wednesday.  Trout has had numerous chances as well most notably popping out to right field with the bases loaded in the 7th. Trout needs to get it together or else the Angels will fade fast.

Next: Angels need to finish strong this month

Hopefully the Angels will be able to get hot for a bit and climb back into the race.  We will soon find out.