Reporting from Oakland — The All-Star break officially started for the Angels at 3:50 p.m. PDT Sunday, when Bobby Abreu grounded out to second base on Oakland closer Andrew Bailey's final pitch.
It was about time.
The weary-looking Angels played as if they were off from the moment their charter plane left the tarmac in Southern California on July 4, concluding a terrible trip with a 5-2 loss to the Athletics at Oakland-Alameda Coliseum.
"Some players knew the break was coming," center fielder Torii Hunter said after the Angels finished the trip with a 1-6 mark, "and you can really see it. . . . We've been traveling a lot and mentally you can get worn out."
Especially after the week the Angels endured. Here is the trip by the numbers, for the viewing pleasure of the rest of the American League West: The Angels were outscored, 44-14, batted .189 and fared even worse with runners in scoring position, hitting only .152.
"This All-Star break comes at a great time for us," said pitcher Jered Weaver, who gave up five runs in six innings on the day he was added as an All-Star replacement for Oakland's Trevor Cahill. "Obviously, we've been struggling."
The Angels have lost eight of 10 games going into All-Star break, dropping three consecutive series for the first time since July 2007.
It is the first time the Angels head into the break out of first place in the AL West since 2006, when they finished second in the division. They trail division-leading Texas by 4½ games.
"There's no pressure because there's a lot of baseball left," Angels second baseman Howie Kendrick said. "I mean, we just have to play and see how things iron out over the next 70 games or so."
Cahill (9-3) was the latest starter to shut down the Angels, holding them to five hits and one unearned run in seven innings. The right-hander escaped a bases-loaded, no-out jam in the sixth when Mike Napoli grounded into a 5-2-3 double play and Cory Aldridge struck out looking at a 2-and-2 breaking ball.
Jack Cust sparked two Oakland rallies, hitting a two-run homer in the fourth and poking a hit-and-run single through the right side of the infield in the sixth. Cust then stole third base before Adam Rosales hit a two-run single to give Oakland a 5-1 lead that seemed particularly insurmountable the way the Angels' offense has been going.
The Angels scored more than two runs only once on the trip, splurging for six Friday in their only victory. Minor league journeymen Aldridge and Paul McAnulty have become staples of a lineup that appears in need of being bolstered before the non-waiver trade deadline at the end of the month.
"Hopefully we can get somebody," Hunter said, "but if not, we have to do what we have to do."
In the meantime, at least every Angel except All-Stars Hunter and Weaver will get a three-day break after what Hunter called "probably one of the roughest road trips in my whole career."
"Hopefully guys will have a good time on their break," Hunter said, "relax and probably not think about baseball a little bit and come back fresh, ready to go."
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