HOUSTON -- The Angels have a long uphill climb ahead of them once again, at 11-22 and 9 1/2 games out of first place in the American League West heading into Thursday's series finale against the last-place Astros. In fact, if the Halos complete their climb -- something they were unable to do last season -- they'll be only the fourth team in Major League history to make the playoffs despite losing 22 of their first 33 games.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, these are the only teams to make the playoffs despite a similar start.
• The 1914 Boston Braves, who started the season 10-23, ultimately won the AL pennant with a 94-59 record and beat the Philadelphia Athletics in the World Series.
• The 1974 Pirates, who began 11-22, then won the National League East crown with an 88-74 record and lost to the Dodgers in the NL Championship Series.
• The 1981 Royals, in a season that was split into two halves because of a players' strike, started 11-22 and finished the first half 20-30, but went 30-23 in the second half to qualify for the playoffs and lost to the A's in the AL Division Series.
The Angels, of course, have the benefit of two Wild Cards to increase their chances of snapping a three-year playoff drought, but it's been a while since they've had this much ground to make up. The last time they were 11 games under .500 was May 22, 2006. The last time they were 9 1/2 games out of first place this early was '02, when they nonetheless won the World Series. The last time their record was this bad through the first 33 games was 1976.
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.