Angels' backs are against the wall

The Sports Xchange
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Coming down the stretch in pursuit of a playoff spot, Angels manager Mike Scioscia has told his team to keep a narrow focus -- don't worry about what other teams are doing, just worry about the game in front of you.

That focus got a little narrower Friday night with a 3-1 loss to the Oakland A's. Coupled with the Rangers' victory over the Mariners in Texas Friday night, the Angels were officially eliminated from contention for the AL West division title.

At the same time, they also slipped a half-game farther out in the wild-card race, falling 3-1/2 games behind the Red Sox (who were rained out Friday night).

"We have to win all our games," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said after Friday's debilitating loss. "Your margin for error is very fine when you're in our position."

And it was an error that cost the Angels against the A's Friday night. With the game tied 1-1 in the eighth, Angels starter Jered Weaver gave up a leadoff single to Kurt Suzuki. After a sacrifice bunt, Weaver threw a costly wild pitch. With the runner now at third, the infield played in and third baseman Maicer Izturis couldn't handle Jemile Weeks' hard grounder. The go-ahead run scored on the error.

Just as costly, though, was another lifeless performance by the Angels' hitters. They had just three hits off A's starter Gio Gonzalez and two relievers. Combined with Thursday's 12-inning loss, the Angels have just four hits in their past 14 innings.

After that late loss in Toronto Thursday, the Angels flew cross-country and didn't get home until 3:00 am Friday morning. But Scioscia was not using that to explain his team's sagging effort Friday.

"This isn't about a late flight," he said. "Fatigue had nothing to do with what happened (Friday). We faced a well-pitched game. We've matched him pitch for pitch but we didn't come through with the hits on offense."

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