ANAHEIM, Calif. — The Angels’ season is going to rise or fall on their pitching, and right now it’s trending downward.
Without consistent pitching from the starters and bullpen, winning a wild card spot in the playoffs — let alone chasing down the Texas Rangers in the American League West — will be virtually impossible.
Not that they can’t do it, but at the moment, the Angels don’t have much in their rotation beyond Jered Weaver.
Saturday night, Dan Haren couldn’t make it out of the fourth inning. His shortest outing in almost three years put the Angels in an early bind that eventually became a 7-4 loss to the Seattle Mariners.
No matter how hard they try, the Angels can’t get much traction. They’ve lost seven of their past 10 games and are 12-16 since they powered into the All-Star break 10 games over .500 and believing they were prepared to make a move.
But the bullpen has been erratic, and the starters — among the best in the game, at least based on their career numbers – have been frighteningly inconsistent. Weaver, arguably the leading candidate for the AL Cy Young Award, is 15-1, but the rest of the team’s starters, past and present, are 32-36.
This month, Angels starters other than Weaver have a collective 6.88 ERA with just two quality starts. That’s hard to believe considering the rotation is Haren, CJ Wilson, Zack Greinke, Ervin Santana and Weaver.
“We’ve been peeling the paint off some things trying to figure out how to get some guys back on track,” manager Mike Scioscia said. “Butch (pitching coach Mike Butcher) has been working very hard at it. … The readings are still there for us to reach our goal, but we’re at a point now where we need production. I know Dan’s disappointed; we’re disappointed.”
What’s most confusing is that Haren had been pitching relatively well after coming off the disabled list July 22 with lower-back tightness. He pitched six innings in each of his past three starts, gave up just four earned runs in 18 innings and won twice.
“I really didn’t see it coming,” Haren said. “I had a couple of good games, had a good week of work, was confident coming into the game. It just didn’t work out. That’s baseball. I’ve got to do my best to put it behind me and not let it linger.”
That won’t be easy. The Angels trails Texas by seven games and are fifth in the wild-card standings behind Baltimore, Oakland, Tampa Bay and Detroit.
The Angels had a few highlights. Rookie Mike Trout made a leaping catch over the wall in dead center field to steal a home run from Miguel Olivo in the eighth inning, and Vernon Wells – making his first start in eight days – was 3 for 3 with a home run, his first homer since May 16.
But offense is not the problem. Pitching is, and the Angels aren’t getting it.
“I take it hard,” Haren said. “I try not to worry about what other guys are doing. I go out there and root for everybody, but I have to hold up my end of the deal and I haven’t been doing that.”