The Los Angeles Angels were 11 games above .500 after a victory on May 15. Less than two months later, the Angels are a season-worst 11 games below the break-even mark.
Los Angeles is just 14-36 since its high-water point and will strive to end its deep slump when it faces the Houston Astros on Tuesday night at Anaheim in the opener of a three-game series.
The Angels are coming off an anemic 1-8 road trip against the Astros, Miami Marlins and Baltimore Orioles in which they scored just 20 runs. The suddenly-hot Orioles swept a four-game set, punctuated by Sunday’s 9-5 victory.
A team that fancied battling Houston for the American League West crown isn’t even a legitimate wild-card contender with 75 games remaining.
“It’s been tough,” said center fielder Mike Trout, who had six hitless outings during the nine-game trip. “We still have the second half. You can’t have your head down. You have to stay positive. We come in every day and try to win. But obviously, it’s not going in our favor.”
Trout batted just .147 (5-for-34) with one homer and 16 strikeouts during the road trip. He went 0-for-11 with nine strikeouts in three losses in Houston.
Trout and two-way player Shohei Ohtani made the American League All-Star team. The only game the Angels won during the nine-game stretch was when Ohtani was on the mound and defeated the Marlins.
Los Angeles was outplayed and outworked in the four losses in Baltimore. Sunday’s setback included sloppy play in the fifth inning as Baltimore scored runs on a passed ball and wild pitch.
“That’s just frustrating. We didn’t play a sound defensive game in a couple spots,” interim manager Phil Nevin said. “We’ve got to keep grinding. I know what it looks like right now and I know where we’re at.”
The Angels stand 19 games behind the Astros, who hold a 12-game lead over the Seattle Mariners in the AL West.
Houston outscored the Angels 21-4 in its three-game home set from July 1-3. Those victories came during a stretch in which the Astros won eight straight games.
Houston has won 19 of its past 24 games, including Sunday’s 6-1 road win over the Oakland Athletics.
The Astros won’t have Yordan Alvarez against the Angels after the All-Star slugger was placed on the 10-day injured list Sunday due to a right hand injury. Alvarez played Friday and Saturday in Oakland.
“It’s gotten progressively worse,” Baker said of an injury that Alvarez sustained on June 18. “First, it was only bothering him to swing and miss, but then it was bothering him every swing after that.”
Alvarez (26 homers) was one of five Astros named to the AL All-Star team. Second baseman Jose Altuve was voted in as a starter, outfielder Kyle Tucker was chosen as a reserve and Justin Verlander and Framber Valdez were named to the pitching staff.
The Angels will start right-hander Noah Syndergaard (5-7, 3.84 ERA) on Tuesday.
Syndergaard made his Angels’ debut against the Astros on April 9 and allowed just two hits in 5 1/3 scoreless innings during a 2-0 victory. That is the 29-year-old’s lone career start against Houston.
Syndergaard lost his last start when he gave up two runs and five hits in five innings against the Miami Marlins. He served up two homers while striking out a season-high eight.
Right-hander Luis Garcia (7-5, 3.81) gets the call for the Astros. The 25-year-old has won each of his past four starts and has fanned 27 in 22 2/3 innings during the stretch.
Garcia defeated the Angels on April 18 when he allowed three runs and four hits over 5 2/3 innings. He is 2-2 with a 3.96 ERA in eight career appearances (six starts) against Los Angeles.
Jared Walsh (7-for-14) and Ohtani (5-for-15) each have hit two homers off Garcia.
–Field Level Media