It's sink or swim time for slumping Angels

Halos are three games back of the second AL Wild Card

It's sink or swim time for slumping Angels

ANAHEIM -- Not since Aug. 8 has there been this type of gulf between the Angels and their playoff hopes. After losing to the Astros, 5-2, on Thursday night at Angel Stadium, the Angels fell three games behind the Twins in the American League Wild Card race, a precarious position to be in with only 16 games left to play.

The Angels received a strong start from right-hander Ricky Nolasco, who allowed two runs over six innings, but their offense generated little against Houston starter Brad Peacock, leading to their fifth loss in their last seven games.

"I think our process is where it needs to be," manager Mike Scioscia said. "There's always been a sense of urgency every game we've played this season. We'll continue that and hopefully we'll start to get our offense going where we get the game on our terms."

The road ahead doesn't get much easier for the Angels, who will face the Rangers and Indians in the final two segments of their nine-game homestand before heading to Houston for another series against the Astros next weekend. All three of those clubs have posed problems for the Angels this season: The Angels are 6-10 against Houston, 6-10 against Texas and 0-3 against Cleveland.

The Twins, meanwhile, are in the middle of a six-game stretch against a pair of sub-.500 teams, the Padres and the Blue Jays. It's not a situation that favors the Angels, but they've spent much of this season defying expectations and are not willing to count themselves out now.

"We've just got to go day by day," Nolasco said. "We've still got some time. We can't get caught up in all that right now. We've just got to try to win day by day. All that stuff kind of plays itself out. We can't get ahead of ourselves. Just keep grinding, come in tomorrow, stay positive and keep going forward."

Maria Guardado covers the Angels for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.