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Angels start second half with 'sense of urgency'

ANAHEIM -- It's no secret that the Angels' first half was disappointing.

Despite lofty preseason expectations, the Angels begin the second half of play five games under .500 in third place, 11 games out of first, in the American League West.

The 162-game schedule is certainly more of a marathon than a sprint, but time is running out.

"The sense of urgency has to be there every game of the schedule, and maybe it takes playing a team in first place to kind of stoke it a little bit," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said before the club opened a three-game series with the division-leading A's. "We'll see, but we need to start doing things on a consistent basis."

While their current place in the standings does not allow the Angels any room for error, neither does their schedule.

Thirteen of the Angels' next 20 games are against either Oakland or the second-place Texas Rangers.

"Those are the teams in front of us," Albert Pujols said. "Those are the teams we need to beat, one game at a time. I think second half of the season, every game is critical. It's not like there's tomorrow. Before you know it, you're in September."

If the Angels are able to make a second-half push, they will likely be getting strong production from Pujols.

Throughout his career, Pujols has hit .334 -- best among active Major Leaguers and fifth all-time -- in the second half. During 2012, his first season with the Angels, Pujols hit .305 in the second half.

There is no doubt Scioscia hopes to see production from Pujols, but he needs to see it from the rest of his team as well.

"Our challenge is focusing on that process and playing good baseball," Scioscia said. "In stretches this year we have done a good job of it, and then it seems like we get knocked back a little bit."

William Boor is an associate reporter for
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