Today, the Angels celebrated the one-week anniversary of their last victory with another defeat, their sixth in a row, and their longest losing-streak of the season. Houston won again, so the Angels have now dropped four games out of first—a five-game swing in just seven days. If the team should narrowly miss the playoffs, we will sorely regret this week's kneebreaking slide.
They actually put up a better fight than might have been anticipated under the circumstances. Then again, spot-starting specialist Cory Rasmus only had to pitch three innings to nearly match any one of C.J. Wilson's recent slogs. Rasmus, who also became the Angels' fourth-and-a-half starter last August, had only pitched a single inning out of the bullpen since returning from the DL, but he did all right for himself anyways. Eventually time will tell if Howie Kendrick's ominous home-run was just an unlucky lightning-bolt or a structural short-circuit. Otherwise, Rasmus pitched quickly and efficiently, and Cesar Ramos, Jose Alvarez, and Fernando Salas firmly held the line behind him.
Ironically, it was the generally solid Joe Smith who cracked first. Immediately after Kole Calhoun homered to tie the game 2-2 in 8th, Andre Ethier rode Joe's fastball over the right-field fence. The Angels again rallied in the 9th, but Taylor Featherston couldn't follow up on Chris Iannetta's game-tying double, which ultimately allowed Ethier to hand-deliver another pitch, this one from Drew Rucinski, out to the Angels' bullpen in the 10th. Rejoicing at the plate, dejection in the dugout, and all the heartbreak that goes along with it.
Did I mention that home runs have been killing the Angels lately? The Dodgers scored 10 of their 13 runs this weekend on the long ball. The Angels' pitching staff is, once again, one of the flyballing-est in the league—actually, the flyballing-est on the season to date. So far that's been counterweighted by one of the lowest home-run-per-flyball rates, but those tend to rise with the thermometer. After allowing only 14 home runs in their previous 22 games, Angel pitchers have now given up 13 in their last 7.
Day games in the summer heat will continue to make me very nervous. Unless Arte Moreno is in as much denial about the climate as he is about Mike Scioscia, he should probably start investing in some groundball pitchers, before the marine layer evaporates.