ANAHEIM -- Angels manager Mike Scioscia called a closed-door meeting after Sunday's game and had reason to be angry. His team had just dropped two of three to the last-place Mariners, giving the Angels eight losses in their last 11 tries while they continued to slide in the American League West standings after working so hard to get out of their April funk. In times like these, Scioscia's meetings tend to be very loud and very colorful, but this one was different. He kept it light, talked only positively and mostly reminded the players that as badly as they've played, their goal of making it back to the playoffs is still very much within reach. Several members of the Angels came away pleasantly surprised.
"He was different," one player said. "He was totally different. He was serious, funny, outgoing. It was awesome. Everybody loved it. And when we left yesterday after that game, after that meeting, everybody was feeling great." "Totally unexpected," another player said. "I think it was definitely a positive. I think we needed it." Scioscia didn't reveal any details about the 20-minute talk with his players, only confirming that it took place and that he felt it was necessary. "You kind of get a strong sense sometimes if there's kind of a wave of frustration going through your team, or maybe you're hitting some dog days and guys just can't see their way through what seems like just tough stretches," Scioscia said. "I think at times, you have to get some things out there for the whole team." The Angels are in need of good vibrations, considering they entered the week eight games back of the Rangers with only 47 games left. They were also two back of the second Wild Card spot, but this year -- with Wild Card teams only guaranteed a one-game playoff against one another -- winning a division is at a premium. The Angels, at least, have a couple of respected veterans who have completed longer climbs than the ones they currently face. In 2006, Torii Hunter was on a Twins team that trailed by 8 1/2 games in the AL Central as late as Aug. 17, then came all the way back to take the division title on the final day. And last year, Albert Pujols' Cardinals were 8 1/2 back of a Wild Card spot on Sept. 5 before sneaking into the playoffs and ultimately winning the World Series. "It helps out a lot," Hunter said of having two veterans who have been through that. "Obviously, [Pujols is] not panicking, and I'm not going to panic because I've seen it, I've felt it. I've touched it before. And he's touched it before." "Every ballclub goes through this," Pujols added. "I mean, Texas just went through this, Oakland -- everybody. Everybody has to go through this for you to be a championship ballclub. If everything is roses, then there's nothing to help you grow and get better at."