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OAKLAND 3, ANGELS 0

Angels come up empty against Athletics

Offense stays quiet, getting only five hits, striking out 13 times and going 0 for 9 with runners in scoring position in 3-0 loss that keeps Angels' magic number for clinching AL West at four.

September 26, 2009|BILL SHAIKIN

Not tonight. Probably not Sunday. Maybe, just maybe, one last gasp for the Texas Rangers.

The Angels' magic number remains at four. There will be no clinching tonight.

And, unless the Angels win their next two games and the Rangers lose their next two, the Rangers still will be alive when they arrive in Anaheim on Monday.

Four games, mano a mano. No scoreboard watching necessary. The Angels could eliminate the Rangers live and in person.

The Rangers could . . . no, they couldn't really sweep that series and throw a major scare into the Angels, could they?

Probably not, but the way the Angels have played the last two games cannot encourage the home team. They appeared mighty sluggish Friday night, managing all of five hits in a 3-0 loss to the Oakland Athletics.

Angels Manager Mike Scioscia said he would shake up the batting order.

"A lot of guys in our lineup are soft right now," Scioscia said.

Jered Weaver is tender too. Weaver, the only Angels starter to take every turn this season, reported stiffness in his upper back during his start on Friday.

He said the condition restricted his delivery and thus affected his command. He also said he expected the condition to resolve itself with treatment in a day or two.

"It's one of those things I go through every year," he said.

On Wednesday, the Angels went hitless in 10 at-bats with runners in scoring position during a loss to the New York Yankees.

On Friday, the Angels went hitless in nine at-bats with runners in scoring position.

On Wednesday, the Angels struck out 15 times, a season high. On Friday, they struck out 13 times.

"That's a lot of outs we're giving to the other club," Scioscia said. "We're better than this."

On Wednesday, they lost to A.J. Burnett. On Friday, they lost to rookie Gio Gonzalez, who had failed to survive the fourth inning in his previous two starts.

They did not distinguish themselves in the field either. Jeff Mathis, who starts at catcher because of his defensive prowess, cost the Angels a run by throwing one ball into center field and another into left field, on consecutive plays.

That left Weaver to try to make lemonade out of lemons.

"It's hard to throw up negative one run," he said.

Weaver gave up two runs in six innings, topping the 200-inning mark for the first time in his career.

He's now at 206, probably with two more starts left in the regular season, so he could be at 220 before the playoffs start. He finished last season at 176 2/3 innings, his previous career high, and he did not start in the playoffs.

Weaver struck out one Friday, his lowest strikeout total in 54 starts.

"My arm feels good," he said. "It actually feels like I'm getting a little stronger."

Perhaps the Angels will get a little stronger tonight, with the new batting order Scioscia promised. He wouldn't tip his hand, other than to say there would be no wholesale changes in the lineup.

"There's not a lot you're going to be able to change now," he said.

The regulars are the players the Angels need to get hot for the playoffs. They're not tight, pressing on the eve of clinching, according to Bobby Abreu. Just a big slump, at a bad time.

"It's just something that happens," Abreu said. "But it's not happening with one or two guys. It's the whole lineup."

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bill.shaikin@latimes.com

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(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

Updated through 9-25 game

Magic number

4

This is the combination of Angels wins and Texas losses that will clinch the AL West title.

H: Home games left.

R: Road games left.

*--* AL WEST W L Pct GB H R Angels 90 63 588 -- 6 3 Texas 84 69 549 6 2 7 *--*

WHAT'S LEFT

vs. Oakland (2, Today-Sunday)

vs. Texas (4, Monday-Thursday)

at Oakland (3, Friday-Oct. 4)

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