Finding bright spots amid Angels' struggles

Angels suffer a sweep to the Indians but there were a few positives to take from the defeat.

ANAHEIM, Calif. – Silver linings are tough to find these days. The Angels keep looking for them, but all they see are mounting losses.

 

They don't have Mike Trout, who sat for a third consecutive game because of a right hamstring injury. They don't have Albert Pujols, whose foot injury has knocked him out for the rest of the season. Second baseman Howie Kendrick still isn't ready to come off the disabled list.

 

No silver linings there.

 

And then there was this: a 3-1 loss Wednesday to the Cleveland Indians, who swept the three-game series at Angel Stadium and sent the Angels off on a nine-game road trip with a four-game losing streak.

 

It goes beyond that. The Angels dropped five of six games on their home stand and now have lost 9 of 11 and 13 of 17 since Aug. 4. They were outscored by the Indians 12-4 in the series.

 

It hurts not having Trout, who is their offensive catalyst, but as manager Mike Scioscia said afterward, "It's a lot of guys – Mike, Albert, Howie. … Right now we're thin. Guys are playing hard."

 

Dig deeply for silver linings and this is what you find:

 

-- Trout will test his tight right hamstring Friday in Seattle before the Angels open a three-game series against the Mariners. If he improves by then, he'll be back in the lineup.

 

"He's going to have an aggressive on workout Friday,” Scioscia said. "We'll be able to gauge where he is a lot better. He's getting better. They're planning on him running the bases on Friday."

 

-- Wednesday's starter, Jerome Williams, had a positive performance but still couldn't pick up a win. He gave up a leadoff triple to Michael Bourn in the third inning followed by a home run by Nick Swisher, then retired 12 of the next 13 batters.

 

Williams, whose record fell to 5-10, hasn't won since June 12. He has dropped eight decisions in a row, and the Angels have lost each of his past eight starts.

 

"I've just got to perform better," he said. "I put a lot of pressure on myself because I'm not doing the things I needed to do like I did early in the year executing pitches and stuff. Hopefully, this is a stepping stone for me so I can keep going forward."

 

-- Peter Bourjos, hitless in 20 at-bats since coming off the disabled list Friday, had a bunt single and a ground single to center in his final two plate appearances. Bourjos said he is still playing with discomfort from a fractured right wrist and that offseason surgery remains an option.

 

"Pete is a little frustrated since he came back," Scioscia said. "He's hit some balls hard. He'll get into the flow."

 

More than anything, the Angels will need their pitching to carry them as long as they remain hobbled by injuries. But pitching has been unreliable virtually the entire season, and there is little doubt that's where their offseason focus will be.

 

"You're only as good as your pitching," Scioscia said. "Our pitching is not at the level it needs to be, and we're finding that out. I don't think there's any head scratching about what's going on.

 

"It's very easy to diagnose. I think the issue is going to be fixing it. I know that's where everyone's attention is.""