Can Angels soar over a cliff?

MIKE TROUT is having a epic slump, and so are the Angels (Flickr/Keith Allison).

Mike Trout is out. He’s gone hitless in his last 26 at-bats, and his slump matches the tailspin that the Los Angeles Angels (27-28) are taking, having lost 11 games in a row, just three short of the team record for futility.

It would be silly to place all the responsibility for the Halos’ plunge from contention to consternation on Mike’s shoulders, but when the Greatest Player in Baseball can’t be the star, who on this team will?

Taylor Ward, who started out blazing hot and was in the MVP conversation before April was over is sidelined indefinitely with the latest in a baffling series of injuries. Shohei Ohtani, cover person for Time Magazine and Sports Illustrated, was hitting well for power with 11 homers, but the electricity seems to be turned off.

“It looks terrible,” said Angel manager Joe Maddon. “I know that. When you’re not hitting , it looks like you’re lifeless. It appears to be that way. But when you’re not hitting a lot of things go wrong. We’ll stay with the guys. We’re going to come back. It’s going to be fine.”

That would be nice, but long-time Angels fans have seen this show before. A fast start, a slowdown, then a tumble into the abyss. The recent flap over a stadium in Anaheim suggests that the Halos might be someday headed to Long Beach or Tustin or – who knows – Las Vegas – but who would want them in their present condition?

One highly unscientific explanation is that the Angels have a case of the “Yips.” That’s defined as a “sudden and unexplained loss of ability to execute certain skills in experienced athletes.”  Maybe it’s contagious like the flu.

If so, somebody better come up with a vaccine or a pill or something soon. How you stood on July 4 was once considered a predictor of how you would finish the season. If the Halos don’t find some fireworks by Independence Day, or it’s going to be another cold, cold summer on State College Boulevard.

The week ahead …

After splitting a high-profile four-game set with the New York Mets, the Los Angeles Dodgers (35-19) have the day off on Monday and resume action on Tuesday beginning a series in Chicago against the White Sox that lasts through Thursday. On Friday to Sunday, it’ll be off to the Bay Area to take on the San Francisco Giants for three..

The Angels open a four-game set with the Boston Red Sox on Monday, wrapping it up on Thursday. The New York Mets will be in town Friday through Sunday. 

As for the NBA Finals, with the series tied 1-1, the third and fourth games between the Boston Celtics and Golden State Warriors will be on Wednesday and Friday, both in Beantown. Game Five is Monday, June 13 by the Bay.

FINAL OUT: “I’m just trying to get into a good position to hit. And right now, I’m not.” – Mike Trout, hitting .103 since May 25.

“Sports Monday” is written by Pete Zarustica.

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