The Angels didn't lose a game to the Oakland Athletics, but they lost a day. At this time of year, losing a day stings just as much.
This stings too: Bengie Molina stole a base Saturday. The Angels, the team that leads the American League in stolen bases, stole none. And, on another evening when Kelvim Escobar pitched well but not well enough, the Toronto Blue Jays beat the Angels, 2-1, at Angel Stadium.
Chone Figgins, the intended catalyst in an offense constructed with little margin for error, endured perhaps the most frustrating night of all. He bunted into a force play, saw the Blue Jays score each of their runs on a double over his head and was removed for a pinch-hitter in the ninth inning.
"Not winning was the most frustrating thing," Figgins said. "Having a chance to gain ground was more frustrating than anything."
The Jays ended the Angels' six-game winning streak. The Angels idled 5 1/2 games behind the A's in the AL West, with 20 to play.
The Angels emphasize speed over power, with no choice given their current roster. They depend upon Figgins to run opponents ragged once he gets on base, but he is hitting .115 in his last 52 at-bats. Manager Mike Scioscia dropped him from first to ninth in the lineup last week and used Maicer Izturis to bat for him on Saturday. Figgins said he was surprised Scioscia removed him.
"He makes the call," Figgins said. "He felt it was the right thing to do."
The Angels need production, Scioscia said, from wherever they can get it. He isn't giving up on Figgins, but he needs to see results.
"He has swung the bat better than his numbers have reflected. That said, his offense hasn't been as crisp as it could be," Scioscia said. "There's probably more frustration than a lack of confidence."
Said Figgins: "I'm fine. It's just one of those crazy years. It usually happens where one player on a team has to go through it. For some reason, it's me."
Escobar could be forgiven for thinking that player was him. On another evening that reminded the Angels of their need for a big bat, they scored one run in the second inning and did not get a runner past second base thereafter. Escobar has lost 13 games, second in the league to Rodrigo Lopez, but these are the scores of six of his losses: 2-1, 3-0, 3-2, 2-1, 2-0, 2-1. Escobar has a 3.57 earned-run average, Lopez 5.95.
"I want to win," Escobar said. "I don't care how many runs I give up."
Molina, the catcher on the Angels' World Series championship team, remains beloved for his defense and clutch hitting. He runs hard, but is one of the slowest runners in baseball. Still, after he singled in the fourth inning, he stole second base, his first steal in three years, this one on a busted hit-and-run play -- and with his brother Jose catching.
"He had a great jump," Escobar said. "I didn't think he was going to go, but he did. I didn't really pay any attention."
Said Scioscia: "Jose just rushed his throw a little bit. If he stays within himself and throws like he can, he gets him out."
Adam Lind doubled Molina home, on a fly ball over the head of Figgins in center field. In the fifth, Frank Catalanotto doubled home Reed Johnson, also on a double over Figgins' head.
Orlando Cabrera singled home the Angels' run, but they could have scored twice had Figgins not preceded Cabrera by bunting into a force play with two on and none out.