CLEVELAND -- All season long, the Angels have withstood repeated injury blows and managed to hover around the .500 mark long enough to cling to dreams of an American League Wild Card berth. But their grip on the fringes of contention is starting to slip, perhaps irrevocably.
On Thursday afternoon, the Angels lost to the Indians, 2-1, sealing a three-game sweep at Progressive Field. The Halos, who had not been swept since April, fell a season-high five games under .500 at 49-54 and now sit 5 1/2 games behind the idle Royals for the second AL Wild Card spot.
"Every single game, we hung in there with them," outfielder Ben Revere said. "We just couldn't get the lucky break."
Right-hander JC Ramirez allowed only two runs over 6 2/3 innings and was one strike away from escaping the seventh with the game tied at 1, but he couldn't work out of a jam and surrendered a go-ahead single to Francisco Lindor. After issuing a pair of walks to put two men on base, Ramirez fired a 1-2 curveball to Lindor, who ripped a line drive to right field to give the Indians a 2-1 lead.
"My curveball was my best pitch today," Ramirez said. "It was down. He hit it good."
The Angels' offense, meanwhile, mustered only one run against Indians right-hander Trevor Bauer, who yielded only an RBI single to C.J. Cron in the fifth. They had a golden opportunity to break the 1-1 tie in the seventh after putting runners on second and third with no outs, but they came up empty-handed. Cron grounded out to third, pinch-hitter Yunel Escobar struck out swinging and Kaleb Cowart tapped a harmless grounder to short, allowing Bauer to emerge unscathed.
The missed opportunities have pushed the Angels to a potential breaking point in their season. Their playoff odds have been more than halved since Monday, falling from 17.5 percent to 7.4 percent, according to FanGraphs, and four teams are ahead of them in the Wild Card standings. With only a three-game series against the Blue Jays left before Monday's non-waiver Trade Deadline, the Angels could look to sell their trade chips, such as Bud Norris, David Hernandez, Escobar and Yusmeiro Petit, all of whom are veterans with expiring contracts.
Still, the Angels remain confident that they'll be able to turn things around in the coming days.
"We just had a tough series," slugger Jose Pujols said. "The road trip is not over. We need to go to Toronto and try to win tomorrow and hopefully win the series. I think that's the way that I look at this team. Everybody just goes out there and gives everything that they have. We're not throwing in the towel. We have a lot of games left."