Los Angeles Angels: Oakland A

The curse of the elephant

September, 12, 2011
9/12/11
11:41
PM PT
ElephantAP Photo/Eric RisbergThe Angels can't seem to figure out why they struggle in Oakland, but Joel Pineiro's guess had to do with a pachyderm.

OAKLAND -- The Oakland Athletics have been stuck near the bottom of the division standings all year, play in a charmless football stadium dotted with a few scattered pockets of fans most nights, and might be about to stomp out the Angels' playoff hopes.

The Angels are getting used to unhappy trips to the East Bay.

Monday night was their saddest day here in a while, with more of the clutch hitting woes that have plagued them lately and some shoddy early pitching setting a bad tone for this crucial road trip. The 6-3 loss, with Texas idle, pushed the Angels to three games back in the AL West.

Losing in Oakland has become a yearly tradition for the Angels -- they're 2-10 here in their most recent games at whatever they're calling the Coliseum nowadays. It would be an interesting anomaly if it didn't threaten to make this season meaningless.

Joel Pineiro understands it as well as anybody and he doesn't understand it at all. Pitching to one of the worst lineups in the American League, Pineiro has been awful. He is 0-2 with a 29.70 ERA in his last two starts here. For the season, Pineiro is 0-3 with a 10.80 ERA against the A's.

"It's the curse of the elephant or something," Pineiro said. "I don't know really. I wish I knew, so I could turn it around."

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A's 6, Angels 3: Three Up, Three Down

September, 12, 2011
9/12/11
10:10
PM PT
Josh WillinghamCary Edmondson/US PresswireJosh Willingham's three-run homer in the first inning put the Angles in a hole they couldn't climb out of.

OAKLAND -- At a ballpark that feels like a mausoleum, the Angels played like their postseason hopes are about to be interred.

The A's defeated the Angels, 6-3, Monday behind stout pitching from lefty Gio Gonzalez and some awful Angels hitting in the clutch. The loss dropped the Angels to three games behind first-place Texas with 15 games left to play.

The Angels have lost six of their seven games in Oakland this season.

The Good:

Toriid. These have been some of the most productive months of Torii Hunter's career, pretty impressive for a 36-year old. Hunter is batting .345 since Aug. 1. He has 16 RBIs in his last 22 games and he has hit safely in 37 of his last 44 games. He did all he could to spark some offense, with a couple of hits and a walk, but the guys around him couldn't make much from it.

Wells rockets. Vernon Wells was as hot as he had been all season before the Angels got back home a couple of weeks ago. Wells fell back into his Anaheim funk, batting .219 on the homestand. But this road trip started on a promising note, with an RBI triple and home run.

Small victories. Yes, Fernando Rodney did walk two batters. That's what he does. But those were sandwiched by a couple of outs. That was a new wrinkle for the struggling reliever, getting somebody out.

The Bad:

Third-and-forever. A few years ago, Bill James did some research and found out that batters drive in a runner at third base with less than two outs 55.5 percent of the time. In the last two games, the Angels are batting .000 in six at-bats in that situation.

Those six at-bats could go a long way to explaining why the Angels are on the fringe of this race instead of the thick of it. Mike Trout, Mark Trumbo (again) and Wells all failed to come up with a sacrifice fly, a well-placed ground ball or a hit to bring the run in.

Oakland karma. In his last two starts in Oakland, Joel Pineiro has a 29.70 ERA. Um, that's not very good, right? Pineiro didn't have quite as embarrassing a game as the previous time he was here, shortly after the All-Star break, but it came at a higher-profile time in the season. Pineiro has had a bad second half and he'll be a free agent this fall. One place he might want to avoid signing? Oakland.

T and T. Trumbo and Trout have helped fuel a little offensive renaissance in the past few weeks, but both guys are struggling badly. Trout has two hits in his past 25 at-bats. Trumbo is 0 for his last 9. Together, they went 0-for-8 with six strikeouts Monday, defusing rallies all over the place.

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TEAM LEADERS

BA LEADER
Mike Trout
BA HR RBI R
.303 20 64 60
OTHER LEADERS
HRM. Trout 20
RBIM. Trout 64
RM. Trout 60
OPSM. Trout .986
WG. Richards 10
ERAG. Richards 2.71
SOG. Richards 119