A 4-9 start to August has sent the Los Angeles Angels skidding to the edges of the playoff picture and started some mentions of them and their $150 million-plus payroll as one of the biggest disappointments in baseball this year.
Manager Mike Scioscia readily acknowledges his team has been a disappointment -- but qualifies that label.
"No doubt, we're disappointed where we are," he said Tuesday before the Angels beat the Cleveland Indians 9-6. "Nobody has their head buried in the sand. But for stretches of the season, we've played as well as anyone in baseball. ... That's the team we know is here, and that's what we're searching for.
"There are stretches of every season when you don't think you're ever going to win another game. And there are some stretches when you don't think you're ever going to lose again. ... We've dug ourselves out of an incredible hole (an 8-15 April), and we've got our head above ground. Now we need to take that next step and get to our goal."
After surging into contention at the end of May and through most of June, the Angels have been a losing team since June 28. Their 19-23 record since then is largely attributable to a rotation that has not pitched up to its reputation. With Zack Greinke's four-run, seven-inning outing Tuesday, Angels starters have a 5.24 ERA (142 earned runs, 243 2/3 innings) and only 18 quality starts in the past 42 games.
"The bottom line is performance, and we do have some veteran pitchers that for long stretches this year have struggled with some things," Scioscia said, obliquely referring to Dan Haren and Ervin Santana (with C.J. Wilson's nine-start winless streak now taking him into that category). "Some of it is tangible, and some of it has been a bit of an enigma.
"It's really different causes for each. But the bottom line is we need these guys to pitch to their capabilities."