DETROIT — The expletive could be heard loud and clear. The clubhouse doors still were closed, but the four-letter frustration pierced the doors and echoed into the adjacent hallway.
The Angels' bullpen collapsed again Sunday, this time in particularly horrifying fashion. The Angels took a one-run lead into the bottom of the eighth inning. Four walks, one brutal error and a grand slam later, they were losers.
Clete Thomas hit the grand slam, powering the Detroit Tigers to a 9-6 victory at Comerica Park. Jason Bulger gave up the grand slam and has given up all three slams hit against the Angels this season.
The Angels are closer to last place than first in the American League West, and their championship aspirations appear fanciful as long as a black hole remains between the starters and closer Brian Fuentes. The Angels' bullpen now has the worst earned-run average in the major leagues -- yes, worse even than that of the Washington Nationals.
And Manager Mike Scioscia, who preaches in-house solutions wherever possible, said General Manager Tony Reagins is trying to find a reliever in trade.
"It's not easy to go out there and get the quality of pitcher you're looking for," Scioscia said. "Tony is on the phone every day with teams. If something is available, we'll consider it."
After Bulger and Jose Arredondo gave up five runs in the eighth inning on Sunday, the Angels have blown 11 of 25 save opportunities.
"It's frustrating," catcher Mike Napoli said. "We know what we've got to do. They know what they've got to do. You've got to throw strikes, get ahead of hitters and put them away."
The relievers have walked one batter every two innings.
"Right now, we're pitching away from contact," pitching coach Mike Butcher said. "The leadoff walk has haunted us a lot. So has the two-out walk.
"It has been addressed. It doesn't seem to be getting a whole lot better."
The Tigers were haunted too, but not as badly. The Angels scored the go-ahead run in the eighth inning off Detroit reliever Joel Zumaya, who walked the leadoff man and then forced home the run by walking Howie Kendrick with two out and the bases loaded.
But that 5-4 lead vanished quickly. Arredondo walked two of the first three batters in the bottom of the inning, and the Angels summoned Bulger.
Bulger walked Curtis Granderson, loading the bases with one out. Placido Polanco hit a fly ball to shallow center field, and Ryan Raburn did not tag from third as Gary Matthews Jr. made a strong throw home.
First baseman Kendry Morales tried to cut the throw off -- the proper play, Scioscia said -- but the ball caromed off his glove and toward the Tigers' dugout, and Raburn scored the tying run on the error.
Bulger then walked Magglio Ordonez, loading the bases once again. Thomas followed with the grand slam, rounding the bases as Bulger lowered his head and kicked the dirt around the mound.
After the game, Bulger declined to comment. Scioscia said he would consult with Reagins on today's off day about possible personnel moves involving setup men.
Scot Shields is not close to coming off the disabled list, and Arredondo, Bulger and Justin Speier each has an ERA above 5.00.
"The possible answers are on our roster," Scioscia said. "There comes a time when you need to start to produce."