The 11 games in a row the Los Angeles Angels have lost on the field is just the latest incarnation of what has become an epic series of setbacks for the franchise.
In February, a Texas jury found a team employee guilty of distributing the drugs that led to the death by overdose of Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs. In the course of the trial, several other players testified to drug use among Angels players, and in May, former Angels pitcher Matt Harvey was suspended 60 games for distributing an opioid to Skaggs.
Also, last month, after the FBI revealed an alleged corruption scheme orchestrated by Mayor Harry Sidhu (he resigned in the aftermath of the FBI allegations), the $320 million sale of Angels Stadium to owner Arte Moreno was voided by the Anaheim City Council, with Moreno acknowledging days later he would not contest the cancellation. All parties are back to square one.
Now — added to tragedy, scandal and the loss of what had figured to be a huge financial windfall for Moreno — comes the collapse of the team on the field, an 11-game losing streak that is one game short of matching the most consecutive single-season losses in club history (the 1988 team lost 12 in a row).
The Angels have been to the postseason just once since Mike Trout, acknowledged to be the game’s best player for a decade, debuted as a 19-year-old in 2011. They haven’t won a playoff game since 2009 and haven’t won a postseason series since 2002, when they won the World Series.
That narrative was all supposed to change this season when the Angels enjoyed a terrific start. On May 15, they were 11 games over .500 at 24-13 and tied for first place in the American League West with the Houston Astros. Trout, after missing months last season with a calf injury, was healthy again and joining forces with unicorn Shohei Ohtani and star third baseman Anthony Rendon. With the pitching better than advertised and right-fielder Taylor Ward evolving into an offensive force, the Angels looked like a team bound for October.
Since then, the Angels have gone 3-15, including their current losing streak that continued with Sunday’s shocking 9-7 defeat to the Philadelphia Phillies. The Angels led 5-0 after four innings but lost on a game-tying grand slam by Bryce Harper in the eighth off closer Raisel Iglesias and a walk-off three-run home run by Bryson Stott, a rookie batting .159, off reliever Jimmy Herget.
“We've lost a lot of tough ones and it really makes no sense,” Angels manager Joe Maddon told reporters after Sunday’s loss. “We got the right guys out there and the right time. And again, we gave it up late. We have to get that fixed. I loved the fight, but we have to finish these games off. And that's a big part of the situation we're in right now.”
The losing streak began May 25 with a 7-2 loss to the Texas Rangers. The Angels were then swept four straight at home by the Toronto Blue Jays, losing late leads in three successive games. They managed just one run in each of three straight losses to the Yankees in New York before being routed in consecutive games by the Phillies, another struggling team that had just fired manager Joe Girardi, 10-0 and 7-2. Then came Sunday’s late-inning collapse.
The Angels had gone a week without even holding a lead at the end of an inning, from the seventh inning of last Sunday’s 11-10 loss to the Jays until the fourth inning Sunday in Philadelphia, when they scored five runs to take a 5-0 lead. That’s 50 innings without a lead.
Until Sunday, the Angels had batted .182 with runners in scoring position during the streak (12 for 66). Trout is buried in the worst slump of his career, which currently stands at 0-for-26 after he went hitless in three at-bats on Sunday. Ohtani is batting just .171 (6 for 35) during the skid and was ineffective on the mound last week against the Yankees, giving up three home runs in the first four innings.
Ward collided with an outfield wall that left him with a nerve issue in his shoulder and was placed on the injured list with a strained hamstring on Sunday. Hitting .370 through mid-May, Ward was batting just .167 (4 for 24) over his last eight games, the shoulder clearly being an issue. Rendon is on the injured list as well with an inflamed wrist.
Maddon said the priority is to get the bullpen straightened out, but in fairness to Iglesias, he had not pitched for nine days before Harper took him deep. That’s on Maddon.
The Angels are being given no time to regroup. They had to travel across the country Sunday night to open a four-game series at home against the Boston Red Sox, winners of four straight.
“We’re a really good team,” Herget told reporters. “We’re the same team that was, what, (11) games over .500? So, I think we’ll be all right.”
MLB Power Rankings
Rankings are determined by staff vote
Records and statistics are through June 5
1. New York Yankees (39-15, Last week: 2): In a 10-game span that ended Saturday, Yankees pitchers gave up just 42 hits. Since 1901, according to Stathead, only the 2021 Dodgers (May 11-21) and 1906 Cubs (June 25-July 6) have given up fewer hits (40) over any 10-game span. Oh, and Aaron Judge is on pace to hit 65 home runs. That is all.
2. New York Mets (37-19, LW: 3): Even before the Mets rallied to split their four-game set with the Dodgers, coming from behind in both games, the boss, Steve Cohen, was happy. And why not? “It’s amazing, the grit on this team,” Cohen said in Los Angeles this weekend. “Just watching them come back — how much fun is that? You’re never out of it. The real problem is now I can’t turn the TV off, because I’ve got to stay up and watch.”
3. Los Angeles Dodgers (35-19, LW: 1): With 52 runs in the Dodgers’ first 54 games, Mookie Betts is on pace to score 156 runs this season. That would be the most runs scored in a single season since Lou Gehrig scored 167 in 1936. Jeff Bagwell scored 152 runs in 2000. Bagwell, Ted Williams (150 in 1949) and Joe DiMaggio (151 in 1937) are the only players since Gehrig to score at least 150 runs in a season.
4. Houston Astros (35-19, LW: 5): They just locked up Yordan Alvarez for six years and $115 million. Alvarez, who hit his 16th home run on Sunday, is averaging a home run per every 13.3 at-bats since his big-league debut in 2019. This season, it’s one every 10.8 at-bats, behind only Aaron Judge (9.4) and Joc Pederson (10.2).
5. San Diego Padres (33-21, LW: 4): Jake Cronenworth hit a game-winning three-run home run in the 10th to beat the Brewers, but the Padres still rank 28th in the majors in slugging (.357) and 26th in home runs (41). They released Robinson Canó after just 12 games (.209 OPS) and promoted Nomar Mazara, who hit 79 home runs in four seasons with Texas but just four in limited action the last two seasons with the White Sox and Tigers.
6. St. Louis Cardinals (32-23, LW: 10): Let’s suspend any retirement talk for 40-year-old Adam Wainwright, whose ERA is 2.73 after pitching seven innings and allowing two earned runs in Sunday’s 5-3 win over the Cubs. But curiously, he did not strike out a batter, only the third start in his career in which he has pitched five or more innings and failed to punch anyone out.
7. Toronto Blue Jays (31-22, LW: 9): George Springer hit his seventh leadoff home run in the team’s 53d game. That already gives Springer one more than Devon White’s previous franchise record for leadoff homers set in 1991.
8. Milwaukee Brewers (33-23, LW: 6): With two more wins, Craig Counsell will pass Phil Garner (563) for most managerial wins in franchise history. Closer Josh Hader, meanwhile, tied the MLB record for consecutive scoreless appearances (40), including 19 this season (18 saves).
9. Tampa Bay Rays (31-23, LW: 8): They placed Wander Franco on the 10-day injured list on May 31 with a strained quadriceps, but their uber-shortstop was already in a funk — no home runs in 119 plate appearances spanning 29 games since April 26. Also, he had only five extra-base hits and a .227/.277/.282/.599 slash line during that time.
10. Minnesota Twins (32-24, LW: 7): Look who’s leading the majors in hitting with a .358 average after his 4-for-4 performance Sunday against the Blue Jays — Twins DH Luis Arraez, who is a singles hitter in a sluggers world. His hard-hit percentage of 26.1% ranks in the bottom 6% in MLB, and he has yet to hit a home run this season. However, Arraez rarely strikes out (8.7%), draws walks and sprays line drives all over the field.
11. San Francisco Giants (29-24, LW: 12): Who said the Giants can’t run? Thairo Estrada stole second in the eighth inning of the Giants’ 5-1 win against Miami on Sunday. He then stole third on the front end of a double steal with Jason Vosler. The Giants had not stolen a base in their previous 15 games, the longest drought in the majors this season.
12. Atlanta Braves (28-27, LW: 15): After its first-ever four-game sweep of the Rockies at Coors Field, Atlanta has won five in a row to move above .500 for the first time since April 9. Last season, on their way to a World Series title, the Braves did not go above .500 till Aug. 6, so they’re ahead of schedule.
13. Boston Red Sox (27-27, LW: 13): They have converted just eight of 20 save opportunities. An All-Star closer last season, Matt Barnes can’t get anyone out. His ERA is 7.94, his strikeout rate is a career-low 17.3%, his walk rate is a career-high 14.8% and his hard-hit rate is a career-worst 51.9%. And now he’s on the injured list with right shoulder inflammation.
14. Cleveland Guardians (24-25, LW: 19): They have won five of their last six games thanks to a bullpen that has been dominant. The relievers’ 1.07 WHIP ranks No. 1 in MLB, and their 60 walks allowed are second-fewest behind the Dodgers’ bullpen.
15. Los Angeles Angels (27-28, LW: 11): No rest for the weary. After going 0-for-6 on the road to extend their losing streak to 11 games, the Angels traveled back to Anaheim and resume play Monday night without a day off for the first of four games against the Red Sox, who have won four in a row.
16. Chicago White Sox (25-27, LW: 14): Third baseman Yoan Moncada, who missed the season’s first month with an oblique strain, came back after being limited for a week by a strained quadriceps, but he had just two singles in 13 at-bats over three games. Moncada is batting .135.
17. Philadelphia Phillies (25-29, LW: 18): Their $233 million payroll is the club’s highest ever. They haven’t made the playoffs in 10 years. Being a dozen games behind the Mets in the National League East in the first week of June just wasn’t going to cut it. So manager Joe Girardi was fired, Rob Thomson was installed as the interim manager, and the Phillies promptly bashed the Angels in a three-game sweep.
18. Texas Rangers (25-28, LW: 16): Who saw Martin Perez coming? In his last five seasons entering 2022 with the Rangers, Twins and Red Sox, opposing hitters posted a .292/.357/.462/.818 slash line. This season? The AL Pitcher of the Month in May entered his start Sunday against Seattle having gone eight starts of six or more innings while allowing no home runs and one or zero runs in each of those starts. According to STATS LLC, the only other pitchers to compile those statistics over an eight-start span (since earned runs became an official statistic in 1913) are Hall of Famers Walter Johnson (1913-14) and Bob Gibson (1968). Eugenio Suarez took Perez deep Sunday, when the 31-year-old left-hander gave up two runs in six innings, but Perez’s 1.56 ERA ranks second in MLB to the Yankees’ Nestor Cortes.
19. Arizona Diamondbacks (26-29, LW: 17): This can’t be good news for a team playing in the desert and approaching summer — With the roof at Chase Field closed, the Diamondbacks are 1-8 so far this season.
20. Seattle Mariners (24-30, LW: 24): Living up to the hype, 21-year-old Julio Rodriguez was named AL Rookie of the Month in May, when he hit .309/.339/.527 (.866 OPS). Among AL rookies, he’s first in hits (34), tied for first in homers (six) and stolen bases (five), second in RBIs (17) and fourth in batting average. He also had nine multi-hit games and six games with at least three hits. J-Rod has settled into the No. 3 spot in manager Scott Servais’ lineup.
21. Miami Marlins (22-30, LW: 22t): After batting just .171 with two home runs and six RBIs in April, Jorge Soler smacked nine home runs and drove in 21 runs in May, the kind of production the Marlins expected when they signed him as a free agent. He’s still looking for his first home run this month.
22. Pittsburgh Pirates (24-28, LW: 25): What a weekend for rookie outfielder Jack Suwinski — three hits on Friday, a walk-off home run against All-Star closer Mark Melancon on Saturday and three more hits on Sunday. Manager Derek Shelton says he plans to give lots of playing time to Suwinski and two other rookie outfielders, Cal Mitchell and Travis Swaggerty, a 2018 No. 1 pick who was called up Sunday.
23. Chicago Cubs (23-32, LW: 22t): Saturday was a good day to hope for Cubs fans. Two of their top pitching prospects started both ends of a doubleheader against the Cardinals. Rookie right-hander Matt Swarmer recorded his first big-league win in the opener, holding the Cardinals to a run on two hits in six innings in a 6-1 victory. In the second game, right-hander Caleb Kilian made his MLB debut, setting down the first nine Cardinals in order with four strikeouts before departing after five innings. He gave up three runs and did not get a decision in the Cardinals’ 7-4 win.
24. Baltimore Orioles (23-33, LW: 21): Grayson Rodriguez, the Orioles’ top pitching prospect and the third-best prospect overall by Baseball America, is expected to be out until at least September after straining his right lat muscle.
25. Colorado Rockies (23-31, LW: 20): The Rockies are in free fall. Five games over .500 on May 7, they are now eight games below .500 after Sunday’s 8-7 loss to the Braves. Colorado is 7-20 in that span with an ERA of 6.10.
26. Detroit Tigers (21-33, LW: 28): Kody Clemens became the first of Roger Clemens’ four sons to make it to the big leagues when he was promoted by the Tigers and appeared as a pinch runner in his MLB debut on May 31 against the Yankees. The next day, Kody started in left field and went 0-for-3 against Minnesota. Through the weekend, he was hitless in his first 12 at-bats but scored as a pinch runner Sunday against the Yankees. For the record, his dad won his second big-league start in 1984. Kody was drafted by the Tigers in the third round in 2018 and had an .844 OPS with Toledo at the time of his promotion.
27. Washington Nationals (21-35, LW: 27): General manager Mike Rizzo said to forget about the rumors — he’s not trading slugger Juan Soto. Instead, Rizzo will rebuild the Nationals around Soto. Entering Sunday, the 23-year-old outfielder had a career OPS of .966. At his age, only five players had a higher OPS, and they’re all Hall of Famers: Ted Williams, Albert Pujols, Jimmie Foxx, Joe DiMaggio and Mel Ott. Seems like an easy call for Rizzo.
28. Oakland Athletics (20-36, LW: 26): They were outscored 20-4 in a three-game sweep by Boston and have now lost six in a row and nine of their last 10. But hey, all those transplanted New Englanders showed up to give Oakland its biggest home crowd of the season — 17,852 on Friday night, more than double their season average of 8,152 — and a total of 44,732 fans for the series. That’s still fewer than an average Dodgers game (47,875).
29. Cincinnati Reds (18-35, LW: 29): The Joey Votto comeback tour is on. After hitting a low-water mark of .122 and going out on a minor-league rehab assignment, the Reds first baseman has resembled his All-Star self. In 15 games since his return, Votto is batting .275 (14 for 51) with 11 of his hits going for extra bases, including four home runs. He has raised his average to .184.
30. Kansas City Royals (17-35, LW: 30): Andrew Benintendi’s 24-game on-base streak ended on an 0-for-8 weekend, but the left-fielder, who is batting .321 with an .799 OPS and is eligible for free agency after the season, remains a prime candidate to change teams at the Aug. 2 trading deadline.