Scioscia: Halos frustrated, but not 'down'

Scioscia: Halos frustrated, but not 'down'

ANAHEIM -- On their roster, the Angels have arguably the American League's top pitcher (Jered Weaver), the Most Valuable Player in baseball (Mike Trout) and the greatest hitter of this generation (Albert Pujols). And still, in a year with more opportunity than ever, they could fall short of the postseason.

That's the reality they're staring right in the face after three straight losses against the Rays and a 14-21 second half that has them 8 1/2 games back in the AL West and four off the pace for the second AL Wild Card spot.

Going into this season, the Angels had all the hype. And for the last few weeks, manager Mike Scioscia has had to explain why they've mostly fallen below expectations.

"Those expectations that the fans and media had, believe me, are right in line with the expectations that I have and our organization has," the Angels' skipper said. "This isn't something that we're taking lightly."

After a crushing loss on Saturday night -- in a game they led, 8-0, heading into the fifth inning -- the Angels fell to 3-6 on this crucial homestand and called their second team meeting in six days, this latest one being players-only.

What's fascinating about this 2012 season is how everything has flip-flopped.

As the Angels struggled through an 8-15 April, the offense ranked 24th in the Majors in runs per game (3.48), while the rotation tried to keep them afloat with a combined 3.70 ERA. In August, which the Halos have begun 5-12, the offense came into Sunday ranked fifth in the Majors in runs per game (5.29), while the rotation sported the second-highest ERA in baseball (6.36).

In 36 second-half games, the Angels' staff has contributed 15 quality starts, which has bled into an already-thin bullpen that has been statistically the worst since the All-Star break.

"I think everyone's a little frustrated; we're not playing to our capabilities," Weaver said. "Our starting staff hasn't been doing a great job, and that's usually what our team is based off -- is starting pitching. From a pitching standpoint, we haven't held up our end of the bargain, so we need to figure something out."

And quickly.

On Sunday, when they activated reliever Jordan Walden, the Angels were whole; a team with no players on the disabled list and all the stars who were expected to get them back into the playoffs -- at the very least -- available to contribute.

Scioscia continues to say that the issues with this team are "very tangible," pointing to the pitching problems rather than confidence or heart or momentum.

But the solutions haven't been there.

"There's a little frustration, sure," Scioscia said. "I wouldn't call it 'down.' I think the attitude in this team is terrific. Trying to temper that frustration, which can easily seep into a clubhouse when you're not where you want to be in the standings, is a challenge that we have to pay attention to."