ANAHEIM -- Just minutes before the Angels were set to face the Dodgers in the finale of the Freeway Series on Saturday night, superstar Mike Trout was scratched from the lineup with the same upper back spasms that kept him out of the lineup from Wednesday to Friday.
Things didn't get much better from there for the Angels, who saw left-hander José Suarez struggle and the offense scuffle yet again in a 7-1 loss at Angel Stadium. It was a fitting showing for the last game of the first half, as the Angels have been in a downward spiral over the last two months after a strong start to the season.
Trout said it was tough having to watch from the bench and said he’s not sure if he’ll be able to play in the All-Star Game on Tuesday at Dodger Stadium.
"It's frustrating not being out there,” Trout said. “All the guys are out there and battling and they’re grinding. I want to be out there with them. But I think everybody could use the break to reset. It's a longer break than usual. Just reset the mind and reset the body and come out fresh in the second half."
The Angels were a season-best 11 games over .500 with a 24-13 record on May 15, but went 15-40 over their next 55 games to head into the All-Star break a season-worst 14 games under .500 at 39-53. They went from being tied for first place with the Astros on May 15 to being 21 games out of first place in the American League West.
The offense has been the biggest culprit and it was again the case against the Dodgers and lefty Julio Urías. The Angels managed just seven hits and scored their lone run on a solo homer from Brandon Marsh in the seventh. They never scored more than one run in any of their four games against the Dodgers this year and were outscored by a 22-3 margin.
The Angels have scored just 181 runs since May 15, which is the second-lowest total in the Majors over that span. It's an average of just 3.3 runs per game. They've also struck out 900 times this season, which is the most in the Majors and 39 more times than any other team.
“It’s been a struggle offensively and there’s no secret with that,” said interim manager Phil Nevin. “But I’ve said all along offense can be contagious sometimes. You go on runs. We’re not at full strength, but it’s not an excuse. We haven’t got much production out of the bottom of the lineup. And it’s turned over to the top where they haven’t been quite what they were earlier. Losing Anthony [Rendon] for an extended period and now Mike, it hurts the entire team. Making adjustments on the fly is very difficult, but I expect it to change once we get into the second half.”
The Angels have had trouble winning any game without two-way star Shohei Ohtani on the mound, as the last time they won without him serving as the starting pitcher was on June 27 against the White Sox. Dating back to June 9, the Angels are 6-0 when Ohtani is on the mound but 6-22 when he isn’t.
Suarez didn't give the Angels much of a chance, as they found themselves down just six pitches into the game on a solo shot from Trea Turner. Suarez served up a two-run shot to Turner in the third before surrendering a three-run blast to Max Muncy that capped a five-run inning for the Dodgers.
"He was just pitching from behind too much,” Nevin said. “He gave up the home run in the first and then got it together for an inning, but the third just got away from him."
The Angels have five days to regroup before starting their three-game series against the Braves in Atlanta on Friday. Nevin said the Angels have to remain optimistic for the second half and put their struggles behind them.
"Having five days, I think that helps probably a little bit more,” Nevin said. “We'll work on Thursday morning and head on a plane to Atlanta. It doesn't get any easier, playing another really good team. We'll get together on Thursday and talk about how we're going to attack the second half, but I think getting away for a little bit will probably help some of these guys."