There is no clock in baseball. But there is a calendar.
And right now it's working against the Angels, who moved a day closer to the end of the season but no nearer the division lead while dropping an 8-3 decision to the Baltimore Orioles on Friday.
The Angels entered the weekend trailing the Texas Rangers in the American League West by 3 1/2 games with 13 to play. No AL team has ever overcome such a large deficit with so few games remaining although it has happened in the National League, a fact Angels Manager Mike Scioscia took solace in.
"So it’s doable, right?" he asked rhetorically. "Our focus right now is to win ballgames. And if we win games and get to a certain point ... we're going to reach our goal.
"We don’t have the great luxury of a lot of do-overs right now. We have to play at a high level all the way. And we’re capable of doing that."
They didn't do it Friday, losing for the third time in five games. And it was an former Ranger, right-hander Tommy Hunter (3-3), who had a lot to do with that, shutting out the Angels on seven hits over seven innings to increase his chances of getting a generous playoff share from his former teammates. Meanwhile Angels starter Dan Haren, coming off a four-hit shutout against the Yankees, couldn't get past the sixth inning.
Haren (15-9) gave up seven runs and seven hits, including a home run and double to Mark Reynolds, who came into the game hitless in his last 20 at-bats. And things didn't get much better once Haren left, with reliever Tyler Chatwood throwing his third pitch to the backstop, surrendering another run.
That's still better than what happened two pitches later when Nolan Reimold, a late addition to the Baltimore lineup, drove a Chatwood offering into the left-field seats for a two-run homer to give the Orioles an 8-0 lead.
An inning later Scioscia pulled eight starters, giving the contest the feel of a spring training game -- which could be the next time the Angels are even in the standings with the Rangers. Four of those substitutes were responsible for the Angels' runs with catcher Hank Conger hitting a two-run homer just inside the right-field foul pole with one out in the ninth inning, scoring Efren Navarro ahead of him. Alexi Amarista then battled through a 13-pitch at-bat before doubling in Gil Velasquez an out later.
In addition to Reynolds, whose home run was his 33rd of the season, Robert Andino had two hits and scored twice for Baltimore. Shortstop J.J. Hardy had two hits and three runs batted in, Reimold scored twice to go with his two RBIs and former Angel Vladimir Guerrero had two hits.
Erick Aybar, Torii Hunter and Alberto Callaspo had multi-hit games for the Angels.
-- Kevin Baxter reporting from Baltimore
Photo: Angels starter Dan Haren delivers a pitch against the Orioles in the first inning Friday night in Baltimore. Credit: Joe Giza / Reuters