Originally posted on Fox Sports West  |  Last updated 4/19/12
ANAHEIM, Calif. If there was a blueprint to the Angels' season, it looked nothing like this. The pitching was supposed to be dependable every night. The hitting was a sure thing. The defense was solid. But 12 games into the season, there isn't consistency in any area. The Angels lack energy and focus. Is it any wonder that manager Mike Scioscia addressed his concerns with the team after a 6-0 loss to the Oakland A's on Wednesday night at Angel Stadium? The exact details aren't known, but Scioscia acknowledged he spoke to his players about the need to keep things simple and, as he said several times in his postgame session with the media, "grind it out." "We have to get simple and start grinding it out, grind out every at bat, and start to pressure other teams," he said. "We'll get better at that. We're a stronger team than we've shown." They are, but in the midst of a 4-8 start that puts them six games behind the Texas Rangers in the American League West, the Angels need to start moving in the right direction now. The fact it's still early shouldn't matter anymore. Pitcher Ervin Santana had a respectable performance, but he put the Angels in a 3-0 hole in the first inning, giving up a pair of bloop singles and a homer to A's slugger Yoenis Cespedes. That deficit became a mountain the Angels couldn't climb. They managed just four hits and no runs in eight innings off 38-year-old Bartolo Colon, who at one point threw 38 consecutive strikes to Angels batters between the fifth and eighth innings a statistic that impressed even Scioscia. Kendrys Morales, Torii Hunter, Vernon Wells and Bobby Abreu went hitless in a combined 15 at-bats, and Albert Pujols extended his homerless streak to 12 games his longest stretch to start a season. The Angels had three two-out singles (plus another hitter reach base on an error) in the first five innings but failed to advance anyone. "We have too much pressure," Santana said. "We have to relax and just enjoy the game and see what happens. We try too hard. "You can tell in the dugout -- everybody is too serious. We just have to have fun." There's no fun when victories are sporadic, and the Angels haven't won two in a row this season. They've dropped series to the Kansas City Royals, Minnesota Twins and New York Yankees and now must win Thursday night to gain a split of their four-game series with Oakland. As Scioscia sees it, some players are struggling because they're trying to do too much with each at-bat. "There's an element to this club that is starting to move forward," he said. "I think the effort is there. But I think some guys are getting swallowed up trying to do too much. It's not about one guy or a group of guys; it's about a team. "I don't think there's as much confidence as there will be in some components of our club with the guys as they start to perform better." When that will happen remains a mystery. But the frustration level is mounting, and so are the losses for a team that some predicted was headed for the World Series. "Some guys are getting a little bit too big, some guys are passive," Scioscia said. "Everybody's got to find their comfort level, but the bottom line is you keep grinding. Two outs and nobody on, you need to keep pushing that inning. "Right now, it seems like we're a team trying to search for that offensive chemistry and that identity. We have to find it. Our mental toughness is going to be an asset this year." For a team with so much talent, it can't happen soon enough.
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