ANAHEIM -- The Angels entered this weekend's series against Oakland taking solace in the fact that, despite a sweep at the hands of the Astros, they still weren't in last place in the American League West.
After a 7-4 defeat Friday night, their second straight in the series and fifth loss in a row overall, the Angels now sit on the bottom rung of the division.
Yet, as the team has continued to falter through this tough stretch, Angels manager Mike Scioscia can't blame a lack of effort. It might be just the opposite.
"We have some guys in that clubhouse that are trying too hard, so the message that the team needs now is a message of support and understanding that those guys are going out there with every situation to give you everything they have," Scioscia said.
Once again, the Angels were in need of a long outing from their starter. But right-hander Jered Weaver was unable to repeat the magic he showed in Sunday's shutout win on the road in Oakland. Facing the same opponent, he wasn't able to complete five innings, getting pulled after 4 2/3 with the score tied at 4.
For Weaver, it was a matter of just trying to be too perfect instead of relying on what worked for him the last time.
"It was a stressful couple innings, just trying to locate and maybe trying to be too fine at times," Weaver said. "They made me work and changed their approach a bit from last time. Any time you face a team twice in a row you think you have to do something different, when really you don't need to."
The Angels' stress was apparent on the basepaths as well, as Johnny Giavotella tried going from first to third base on Mike Trout's RBI single to center in the fourth inning. It was 4-2, and had Giavotella been safe at third the Angels would've had a pair in scoring position and a chance to add on. Instead, the inning was over and Oakland rallied to tie it in the next half-inning.
The bullpen tried picking up for Weaver, despite being down two men due to extended work in Wednesday night's loss. Fernando Salas was asked to work two innings, and allowed a single and a double before giving up Khris Davis' game-deciding three-run homer in the eighth.
"The more you're bringing the bullpen into the game, the more pressure there is for each guy to pass that baton," Scioscia said. "We had a little trouble doing that. It comes down to our rotation getting us to a certain point in the game. These last two nights, we didn't get there."
Press as hard as they might, the Angels now find themselves needing to dig themselves out of a hole. Scioscia, however, still sees a way back up.
"When things are going tough like they're going right now, it's tough to see the forest through the trees," he said. "Especially when you look at our pitching staff, pitching some good games, we could go on a good run."
Fabian Ardaya is a reporter for MLB.com based in Anaheim. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.