Heading into their most important home series of 2012, the Angels don't exactly have a head of steam.
They lost 5-1 to the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park on Thursday afternoon and have dropped five of their seven games since the All-Star break. The Angels play the first-place Texas Rangers this weekend in Anaheim.
Adjustments. One of the reasons Mike Trout is such a dazzling young talent is that he's able to figure out what pitchers are trying to do to him and do something about it. Trout didn't look good striking out in his first two at-bats, but he looked for a slider against Max Scherzer, got it and golfed it deep into the stands in left field. That was kind of it for the offense. Sometimes Trout is a one-man show, and those are the bad days for this team. Trout has scored at least a run in each of the past 11 games, two short of a team record.
Help coming. Dan Haren didn't look dominant in a rehab start at Class A earlier this week, but after a full-effort bullpen session in Detroit on Wednesday, he told reporters he's ready to go for this weekend. Haren also sounds keen to prove to people that he's still one of the best starters in the game. A highly motivated Haren could provide the boost this rotation needs.
Bullpen. He hasn't been the most efficient pitcher in the league this season, but Hisanori Takahashi kind of kept the Angels in the game by getting out of a jam in the seventh inning and striking out a very tough right-handed hitter, Miguel Cabrera. Ernesto Frieri looked dominant again after a rough outing in his previous game. It was a good day for the bullpen.
Production problem. Some hitters can afford to have days like Peter Bourjos had. He's not one of them. Bourjos struck out with a runner at third and one out in the seventh inning, just as the Angels were trying to claw back into the game. Because of his glove, the Angels would like to play Bourjos more, but he does sometimes look overmatched at the plate.
Power problem. Jerome Williams looked a lot more effective when he was facing teams such as Seattle, Oakland and the Dodgers. He has struggled to keep a couple of brawnier teams inside their stadiums. Williams has given up four home runs in his past two starts, against the Yankees and Tigers. Otherwise, he has pitched pretty well, but that's a big "otherwise." Williams is just clinging to his rotation spot, having given up five earned runs in four of his past five starts.
Focus problem. Erick Aybar has had trouble finding the target lately. He had another throwing error and now has 10 errors, which puts him on a trajectory closer to a dismal 2010 (21 errors) than to his Gold Glove 2011 (13). For a while, Aybar's problem was hitting. Lately, it's been making routine plays.