ANAHEIM -- The Angels reached rock bottom Friday night. At least, they hope they did.
For the ninth straight game, the Angels failed to score more than three runs and, for the sixth straight time, they lost. This time it was by a score of 4-2 and it was to the struggling Kansas City Royals and their soft-tossing lefty, Jeff Francis. The Angels are stuck in their longest home losing streak since April 2002.
They slipped six games out in the AL West and are holding off the Oakland A's, who ended a 10-game losing streak Friday, by just two games to avoid last place.
Half-a-lineup. For the second straight game, the top five hitters did virtually all the damage, what little there was anyway. Maicer Izturis, Torii Hunter, Howie Kendrick, Bobby Abreu and Vernon Wells were on base seven times, drove in both runs and scored them, too.
Hurt guys. Since Kendrick and Wells came back from the disabled list, they had combined to go 2-for-25. Both of them showed signs of getting their timing back Friday. Kendrick lined a double into right-center -- his go-to spot -- and Wells pulled a single into left. It was a start. Maybe?
Creativity. You don't see many 5-6 double plays, but Izturis and Erick Aybar aren't ordinary defenders. Fielding generally has not been a problem and Izturis, who plays three positions at Gold Glove level, is among the reasons why. He dove to catch Jeff Francoeur's line drive, then lobbed it to Aybar, who alertly covered third. Cabrera apparently thought it was headed for left field, because he was double off the bag.
Snap judgment. As bad as the Angels are going, they can't afford to give up runs or even base runners. Third-base coach Dino Ebel waved Abreu around third after Wells' line-drive single to left in the sixth inning and Alex Gordon made an accurate throw to nail him. It was an aggressive base-running play, typical of the Angels' m.o. This time, it didn't work. Therefore, it was a bad decision.
Efficiency. That sixth inning was the game for the Angels. Soft-tossing lefty Jeff Francis appeared to be unraveling, but somehow the Angels squeezed just two runs out of five hits. It's something different every night, except the result is always this: relentlessly not scoring runs.
Mediocrity. The kind of starts Ervin Santana is churning out would play well on a team with a powerful, deep lineup. On the Yankees or Red Sox, he'd probably be 6-3 instead of 3-6. But the Angels aren't any of those things and Santana's typical four-run evening really didn't give them much of a chance. His problem Friday was spotty command. He walked five batters and was behind frequently.