ANAHEIM, Calif. -- The Angels say they're still focused on winning their division, but now they have two teams to get past.
The Angels managed just five hits against Matt Moore and three relievers, and lost 3-0 to the Tampa Bay Rays on Saturday night. The loss pushed them out of second place for the first time since May 25. The Oakland A's, 18-3 this month, won again and relegated the Angels to second-to-last in the four-team division. The Angels, with roughly three times the payroll of Oakland, trail first-place Texas by four games.
More deserving. C.J. Wilson should not be 0-for-July. He has had only two bad starts since that rain-shortened clunker in Texas and has given the Angels quality starts in four of his past five outings. He fought through some awful fielding early Saturday and sidestepped some damage, managing to pitch into the seventh inning. For a guy with a sub-3.00 ERA to be stuck at 9-6 seems a little silly. The Angels don't seem to show up to play on some of the nights he pitches.
Who's this guy? Maybe he sensed the diminished playing time with Chris Iannetta coming from the disabled list or maybe it's a coincidence, but Bobby Wilson is hotter than he has ever been at this level. He had one of the few hard-hit balls off Moore all evening, a double to left field. At that point, he was 7-for-his-previous-14 with two doubles and two home runs. This from a guy who struggled to keep his batting average above .200 most of the season.
Tough man. Albert Pujols didn't do much Saturday. He went 0-for-3 and stranded four baserunners, but the guy deserves some credit just for staying on the field. In the past two weeks, he has endured a nasty-looking ankle injury and a badly bruised right forearm while missing just one game. Adding injury to injury, he took a mid-90 mph fastball to the upper rib cage in the fourth inning but stayed in the game.
Wells conundrum. Here we go again. Vernon Wells is back, he's getting booed again and he's causing a logjam of players hoping for at-bats. Manager Mike Scioscia said before the game that Wells wouldn't drastically affect youngster Peter Bourjos' playing time, but how is that possible? Bourjos typically has been playing against left-handed pitchers, and on Saturday, it was Wells supplanting him. Wells went 0-for-4 with a strikeout and played a first-inning double awkwardly. General manager Jerry Dipoto has shown a knack for acting decisively when something needs to be done, and you wonder whether Wells is in jeopardy of being released the next time the Angels need a roster spot.
Efficiency. Wilson deserves a share of the blame for his winless month. He has erratic control much of the time, and his high pitch counts tend to limit his innings. Wilson hasn't pitched more than seven innings since June 8, and he has done it just three times all year. He needed 121 pitches (and only 69 strikes) to get through 6 2/3 innings.
Early focus. The Angels are above average in the field, but early on, Wilson had a mess to contend with because of the Angels' sloppy fielding. Maicer Izturis just plain dropped a Matt Joyce pop-up, and Bobby Wilson sailed a throw into center field (although, it probably should have been caught). The misplays cost Wilson pitches, but more importantly, they cost the Angels an unearned run. Tampa doesn't score much, but it does pitch well, so playing poor defense is a good way to lose against the Rays.