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Scioscia: Angels know what they need to do

SEATTLE -- The Angels responded to their most devastating loss of the season by showing up early. Five hours before Monday's first pitch, and roughly 21 hours after Sunday's ninth-inning meltdown, basically their entire active roster took part in early workouts at Safeco Field, the grind transforming into a necessary distraction.

Angels manager Mike Scioscia called it standard operating procedure for a series opener, but also talked about how "the routine of this game is very therapeutic."

"When you have tough losses," Scioscia said, "you get back into your routine and it helps you move forward."

But then the Angels moved backward, again.

They followed Sunday's five-run, fluke-filled ninth inning against the first-place Astros with a 10-1 blowout loss to the Mariners on Monday, allowing six runs in the seventh inning and managing to get only one runner in scoring position.

Scioscia didn't believe Sunday's loss had any carryover effect, but it didn't matter. Fact is, the Angels are now 4 1/2 games out of first in the American League West and four back of the Rangers for the second AL Wild Card spot, trailing two teams currently playing each other.

"We don't have our heads buried in the sand," Scioscia said. "We know what we need to do, but it's there for us."

Scioscia was referring to all of the head-to-head matchups, including three games in Houston at the start of next week and four games in Arlington to finish off the regular season. They also have four games in Minnesota starting Thursday, against a Twins team that only trails the Rangers by one game for the final playoff spot.

But the calendar is dwindling -- only 19 games remain -- and the Angels' margin for error remains small.

Albert Pujols has been hindered by pain in his right foot for the last 17 days, an ailment that has him batting .190 in September. Mike Trout, allegedly unaffected by the left wrist injury that kept him out in late July, is batting only .234 since the start of August. And so the Angels' offense has scored the sixth-fewest runs in the Major Leagues, constantly putting added pressure on their pitching and defense.

On Monday, their fifth straight game scoring less than four runs, they managed only five hits.

On Tuesday, they face Felix Hernandez, who has allowed seven runs in his last 61 innings against the Angels.

"That could be a big challenge," Angels leadoff hitter Kole Calhoun said. "He's one of the best in the league for a reason. But it's a guy that we've faced a lot. We're going to need a good performance on the mound [from Nick Tropeano]. Hopefully we'll swing the bats well, score some runs early."

Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez and listen to his podcast.
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