It seems like just a few weeks ago the Los Angeles Angels were in first place in the AL West. They seemed poised to duel all summer with the Houston Astros for a division title.
It was a few weeks ago.
After getting walked off by the Philadelphia Phillies Sunday, the Angels losing streak has hit 11. It is the longest active losing streak in MLB.
It ties the second-longest losing streak in Angels franchise history.
The longest is 13 when the Angels lost the last 12 games of the 1988 season and the first game in 1989. That streak at the end of 1988 cost Manager Cookie Rojas his job. The Angels made Moose Stubing the coach for the last eight games. Poor Moose finished his MLB career 0-8 all-time.
Los Angeles opens up a four-game series with the Boston Red Sox Monday. They’re now five games back of the Astros. How did this happen? What has gone wrong? Is Joe Maddon in trouble?
Are the Angels really this bad?
The Angels were 11 games over .500 when they were 24-13. Let’s do a hard stop right there.
In those first 37 games of the regular season the Angels played 10 different teams, including the Astros twice.
At this point of the season, we can kind of tell who is good and who is not. Only three of those teams are now over .500 (Astros, Rays and Red Sox, who are right at .500).
So it looks like the Angels may have been fattening up on poor opponents. That’s not good. After the series with the Red Sox, the Angels get the Mets, who lead the NL East and then a two-game set with the Dodgers. Ugh.
In case you were nervous, the longest MLB losing streak is 23 games by the Phillies in 1961.
Anatomy of a losing streak
You can kind of explain away the loss on get-away day to the Rangers which started the losing streak. The Angels then lost four close games to the Blue Jays (total margin of defeats was six runs). Then the Angels show up at Yankee Stadium and get outclassed, losing three games 17-3.
The talk was Shohei Ohtani was tipping his pitches. If that’s true that’s bad news, because word gets around on that quick.
Now let’s flip back to the Phillies for a second. They just fired Joe Girardi as manager on Friday! It was all set up for the Angels, they had Mike Trout playing near his New Jersey home. Then they go out and get swept. Trout can’t buy a hit. Sunday the Angels led 6-2 in the eighth and 7-6 in the ninth.
So the Angels have lost close. They’ve lost big. And now they’ve lost in a walk-off.
Who’s let the Angels down?
Start from the top of the roster, point to everyone and there you have it.
Trout may be a lousy Fantasy Football Commissioner, and right now, he’s in an 0-26 slump, the worst of his career. Ontani is batting .242, and, on the mound his ERA is 3.99.
The Angels’ bats haven’t been that bad. They still rank third in the AL in runs scored and third in homers and fifth in team batting average.
But in the last seven days, the Angels have scored 12 runs and batted .186.
Do you want to do this with the pitching staff too? Starter Michael Lorenzen is 5-3. That’s good. The relievers have been lousy. The Angels Team ERA is tenth in the AL.
My favorite unfortunate stat for the Angels pitching staff this year is they have allowed 62 home runs this season, that’s 13th in the AL. What happened to the dead ball this year?
Is Joe Maddon the issue?
Maddon is about as close to an Angels lifer as anyone. He was in the organization for 31 years as a player, coach and manager. He was the bench coach in 2002 when the Angels won the World Series. He signed a three-year deal back in 2019. This is year three. Have the Angels tuned him out?
Maddon was a star when he was coaching the Tampa Bay Rays and he ended the Cubs curse, leading the Cubs to a World Series title in 2016. After the loss Sunday, all Maddon could do was shake his head:
“That one’s tough,” said Maddon in OC Register. “We’ve lost a lot of tough ones. It really makes no sense. We got the right guys out there at the right time. Again, we gave it up late. We have to get that fixed.”
Not exactly the most inspiring words. I wonder what Moose Stubing would have said.
Baseball is a game of ebbs and flows. This could just be a dip in the road for the Angels, or it could be the beginning of the end for Maddon’s tenure.