ANAHEIM -- The combined payrolls of the Rays, Orioles and Athletics are roughly $200 million.
The Angels' payroll alone: nearly $155 million.
And still, all three of those teams -- along with the big-spending Tigers -- are ahead of the Angels for the two American League Wild Card spots as the calendar nears September. The Rays, A's and Orioles are playing loose, with very little expectations -- much like the 2002 World Series champion Angels and very unlike this year's squad. Teams like that tend to be dangerous.
"They are, because even if they fall off it's no pressure, because it'll be like, 'Ah well, we knew that was going to happen anyway,'" veteran outfielder Torii Hunter said. "For us, we're expected to win. But that's not enough pressures to make us fall off. I mean, it's there, but it's just one of the pressures. There's many pressures on this team, but I think that's definitely one of them."
The Angels went 4-2 on their just-completed road trip, winning their first four in Boston and Detroit before dropping the last two against the Tigers. Due in large part to baffling struggles up and down the Halos' pitching staff, they entered Tuesday 18-24 in the second half and 9-15 in August, putting them 4 1/2 games out of the second AL Wild Card spot and 10 back of the AL West-leading Rangers with 33 left.
The AL Wild Card-leading Orioles (71-57) and A's (71-57) are two of the most surprising teams in baseball, while the Rays (70-59) continue to excel.
The Angels (66-62) aren't far off, but their expectations were far greater.
"Not just from other people, but ourselves," Hunter said. "We expected to win. So far, it's been a disappointment."