ANAHEIM -- Tyson Ross had a 7.71 ERA going into Monday, but like a lot of other undistinguished pitchers who have stymied the Angels this season, he looked invincible against this struggling team.
Ross pitched his only scoreless outing of 2012 as the Oakland A's beat the Angels 5-0 Monday at Angel Stadium. After a modestly warm streak, mostly at the expense of the hapless Minnesota Twins, the Angels have lost three of their last four games to stay mired in last place in the AL West.
The Angels are 2-6 in their own division so far.
Feeding Albert. Manager Mike Scioscia seems to have settled on Alberto Callaspo and Maicer Izturis as his No. 2 hitters because they're willing to take walks, unlike virtually anyone else in the lineup. Izturis did what he's supposed to do -- got on base in front of Albert Pujols -- three times to build a little excitement for those at-bats. Pujols didn't exactly maximize the opportunities, but more on that later.
Certain swings. The Angels looked flat most of the game. Early on, they were just unlucky. Pujols, Kendrys Morales and Vernon Wells all hit rockets in the first two innings. Two of them were ground-outs and another was an inning-ending double play. The Angels seemed to have some decent offensive vibes coming off a good hitting night the day before in Texas, but those soon drifted off as the night advanced.
Bullpen not too bad. Hey, guess what, the bullpen no longer is the problem. The addition of Ernesto Frieri has helped and some other relievers finally seem to be gaining a measure of confidence. Five of Hisanori Takahashi's last six outings have been scoreless. Jordan Walden hasn't given up a run since losing the job as closer. Next, maybe we'll get to see how these guys do protecting leads instead of helping mop up.
Albert. It's confidence. It's just a slump. It's because he's not comfortable. He doesn't know the pitchers. Everybody's got an opinion on why Albert Pujols is batting .197 (after a 1-for-4 night). Ultimately, who cares? The booing at Angel Stadium continued and Pujols had another ho-hum game. He's getting some hits here and there -- an improvement over a week ago -- but he's still not producing runs as he normally does. Everyone continues to wait for the real Albert Pujols to show up.
Haren's stuff. The poor command -- four walks and a hit batter -- seem to be the result, not the cause, of Dan Haren's problems. For years, he has had better control than all but the most elite starting pitchers, but he used to have a low 90s fastball and a nasty split-finger pitch. As Haren's stuff has diminished, he seems less willing to throw strikes -- and probably for good reason.
Ay, Aybar. Erick Aybar just doesn't look like the same guy. A Gold Glover last year, he appears passive at times in the field (Collin Cowgill's third-inning hit probably should have been an error on Aybar) and he has been an easy out for weeks. Aybar has two hits in the last eight games, his average slipping to .193. Since he's got only four walks all year, his on-base percentage isn't much better.