Angels starting pitcher Jerome Williams went from winner to loser when… (Stephen Dunn / Getty Images )
When the Angels added Josh Hamilton in the off-season to what was already the most expensive team in franchise history, the expectation was that the results would be historic.
And they have been, just not in the way the Angels had hoped.
Because with Sunday's 8-4 loss to the Baltimore Orioles, their ninth in 12 games, the Angels (11-20) matched their worst 31-game start. They're already nine games behind first-place Texas in the division race and, five weeks into a season in which they were supposed to compete for a championship, they find themselves heading off on a six-game trip Tuesday that is shaping up as crucial.
BOX SCORE: Baltimore 8, Angels 4
"We've dug ourselves a hole again. And the only way you can get out, you can't jump up five rungs. You're going to have to claw your way up one game at a time," Manager Mike Scioscia said . "We have to come out there and create momentum and start to play the game the way we need to play to generate wins."
But the Angels will probably have to do that with the guys who dug the hole to start with. Over the last three years, the team has dealt away top prospects such as Jean Segura, Patrick Corbin, Tyler Skaggs and Johnny Hellweg for players who are no longer with the team, leaving the Angels minor league system ranked as the worst in baseball by Baseball America. And that's hampering efforts to trade for help.
As for the players with the club, the Angels have already used every healthy pitcher on their 40-man roster and that hasn't gone well, since the staff earned-run average of 4.78 is the second-highest in the majors. Hamilton hasn't been the answer either. It took a one-for-four Sunday to raise his average to .208, second-lowest among American League right fielders. He leads the group in errors and strikeouts.
"We've been terrible, we've been absolutely awful at controlling the defensive side of the game. Not the guys in the field as much as setting a tone on the mound," Scioscia said.
Jerome Williams, Sunday's starter, agreed.
"It all fell on our shoulders," he said. "We have to go out there and be better."
Williams' problem against the Orioles was walks followed by home runs. In the fourth and fifth innings, the right-hander walked a batter then gave up a two-run home run, turning what had been a 3-1 lead into a 5-4 deficit.
Then the game really got out of hand in the eighth inning, when reliever Dane De La Rosa walked the first batter he faced. An error and four consecutive two-out singles later, the game was over, sending the Angels out on the road, where their four wins are the fewest in the majors, to play the Houston Astros and Chicago White Sox, who are a combined 21 games under. 500.
It wasn't supposed to be this way.
"Every trip's a big trip," Howie Kendrick said. "We need to play better baseball and get wins. Nobody here wants to lose. Eventually, at some point, it's got to turn."