Yoenis Cespedes hits a two-run triple against the Angels on Tuesday. (Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated…)
OAKLAND — The Angels are a mess. There's really no other way to put it.
Their ace, three of their top relievers and their third baseman are on the disabled list. They got their shortstop back from the DL on Tuesday but lost their center fielder and productive leadoff batter to a hamstring strain.
Their rotation is thin, their bullpen is thinner, and their mercurial right fielder, the one they invested $125 million in last December, looked completely lost at the plate for most of April.
BOX SCORE: Oakland 10, Angels 6
The Angels lost for the seventh time in nine games, this time 10-6 to the Oakland Athletics on Tuesday night, and there was nothing unusual about it.
Second-tier teams give the Angels plenty of trouble; it's no surprise they were manhandled by the defending division champion A's, who have scored 48 runs in five games against the Angels this season.
The Angels are 9-17, tying their worst start in franchise history. They're eight games behind Texas in the American League West. Despite their $148-million payroll and World Series expectations, it no longer seems like a fluke.
This is not a good team as currently constituted, and until it is restored to closer to full strength, or the offense starts mashing with more consistency, it will be difficult for the club to compete.
"The schedule doesn't stop — we've got to find a way to get leads, hold leads and win games even when you're not as deep as you need to be," Manager Mike Scioscia said. "I tell you one thing right now, no one is going to feel sorry for you. We've got to get it done even with some of the depth issues we're facing."
Garrett Richards had a rough night Tuesday, giving up seven runs and eight hits, including a run-scoring double and two-run triple to Yoenis Cespedes, in 52/3 innings. The A's broke it open with four in the sixth, highlighted by Seth Smith's three-run triple, which followed an intentional walk to Adam Rosales.
Mike Trout doubled, tripled and drove in four runs for the Angels, and Mark Trumbo hit a solo homer, but once again, they got little from Josh Hamilton, who singled and walked in five plate appearances and is batting .204 with 32 strikeouts on the season.
Scioscia dropped Hamilton from cleanup to the fifth spot Tuesday, a move he hinted at after Monday night's 19-inning loss, in which Hamilton went hitless in eight at-bats with three strikeouts.
Not only is Hamilton not driving the ball with any consistency, he's not having many competitive at-bats, his struggles rooted in poor plate discipline.
According to Fangraphs, Hamilton entered Tuesday with an AL-worst 45.2% O-swing rate, the percentage of pitches swung at outside the strike zone. His 60.4% swing rate was the highest in the league.
Blared a headline in a Fangraphs story Tuesday: "Josh Hamilton is swinging himself into oblivion." Harsh, but true.
"It's more pitch selection than anything else," hitting coach Jim Eppard said.
"As a hitter, your job is to lay off pitches you can't hit and force them into throwing pitches you can hit."
Last week, Scioscia dropped Hamilton to fifth against left-handers, but he said Tuesday that Trumbo will remain in the cleanup spot indefinitely.
To make room for shortstop Erick Aybar, who was activated and led off Tuesday, the Angels optioned left-hander Michael Roth to triple A. Outfielder Scott Cousins was recalled from triple A to replace center fielder Peter Bourjos, who went on the DL because of a left hamstring strain. Reliever Nick Maronde was optioned to double A.