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Angels facing uphill fight to stay in contention

September 20, 2011 |  2:46 pm

The Angels may not be standing with their backs against the wall just yet. But they can clearly feel the wall from where they stand.

The team entered Tuesday's game in Toronto trailing the Texas Rangers in the American League West by five games with nine to play. In the wild-card race they're 4 1/2 behind the Boston Red Sox with Tampa Bay, at two back, in between.

That leaves the Angels with very little room for error. Even if they win their next six games against Toronto and Oakland, the Rangers would have to lose at least twice during that span to make the teams' season-ending three-game series in Anaheim meaningful. The Rangers' magic number for winning the division race entering Tuesday was five, meaning any combination of Texas wins and Angel losses equaling five eliminates the Angels.

The scenario in the wild-card race is only slightly less desperate -- and the Angels have to hope two teams, both Boston and Tampa Bay, collapse there.

"Man, it's been desperate for me since August. I've been hungry since August," outfielder Torii Hunter said. "For me, it's the same thing. Take it the same. I'm going to have my same approach as any other day."

With time running out, Angel Manager Mike Scioscia opted against starting 15-game winner Dan Haren on three days' rest and went instead with schedule starter Joel Pineiro, who has struggled this season. That will leave Haren, Ervin Santana and 18-game winner Jered Weaver on track to start the final three games on regular rest.

By then, however, those games could be little more than exhibitions.

"At this point we need help," Scioscia said. "We’re not in range with Texas yet for those three games at the end to be meaningful."

The lineups:


CF -- Peter Bourjos

3B -- Alberto Callaspo

2B -- Howie Kendrick

DH -- Torii Hunter

1B -- Mark Trumbo

LF -- Vernon Wells

RF -- Mike Trout

SS -- Erick Aybar

C -- Bobby Wilson

P -- Joel Pineiro

Toronto Blue Jays

SS -- Mike McCoy

LF -- Eric Thames

RF -- Jose Bautista

1B -- Edwin Encarnacion

2B  -- Kelly Johnson

3B -- Brett Lawrie

CF -- Colby Rasmus

C -- J.P. Arencibia

DH -- Adam Loewen

P -- Brett Cecil


Angels are running out of time after 3-2 loss to Toronto

Defense remains a strong point for Angels

Angels get big day from Erick Aybar in victory over Baltimore

-- Kevin Baxter, reporting from Toronto

Photo: Angels Manager Mike Scioscia, left, speaks with reliever Scott Downs during the Angels' 3-2 loss to Toronto on Monday. Credit: Claus Andersen / Getty Images