Peace and harmony was finally coming back to the Angels. They had a brutal month where the team that should be thinking about the World Series was struggling to stay in the wild-card race. The pitching was dreadful and they were reeling after Dan Haren and Jered Weaver got pounded by the Rays on Thursday and Friday.
Tonight, everything was clicking. Mike Trout homered to lead off the game. He would collect three hits. Albert Pujols homered. Six Angels had a multiple hit game. C. J. Wilson was cruising.
And Tampa Bay starter Alex Cobb got pounded to the tune of eight earned runs in less than three innings of work.
The Angels weary bullpen was going to get the night off. And perhaps a nice thumping by the Mike Scioscia's crew was exactly what the doctor ordered.
Then it happened. It was so subtle at first. Wilson getting through the fifth and having some trouble. Tampa Bay's number nine hitter Sam Fuld drives in a single run with a base hit. Then, Desmond Jennings walks with the bases loaded.
But Mike Scioscia left in C. J. Wilson, and why not? This was not a game played in a vacuum. They needed innings from their starter. Besides, the Angels still had a six run lead when Jennings walked in the run.
Surely the Angels could protect a six run lead against a team that was the victim of a perfect game earlier in the week.
Or, maybe not.
Wilson did not make it out of the inning and made it a battle of the bullpens. The Rays bullpen shutout the Angels for the final six innings. While it is difficult to criticize a lineup that scored eight runs in a game, they needed to produce in the later innings. The Rays bullpen is fine, but it was not as if they were facing Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz in the late innings.
Carlos Pena homered to give Tampa Bay the lead. The Angels had the tying run in scoring position with one out, and naturally stranded both.
This loss was more than brutal and devastating for the Angels. It was stupid.
This was a game the team needed on so many levels. For practical reasons, they needed a win to keep pace with the Rangers and Oakland. But with a nine game gap in the loss column with a month and a half to play, any hope of winning the division might have been lost tonight.
Even the wild-card is starting to slip away. They are four games back in the loss column from a wild-card spot. They are closer to the reeling and grumbling Red Sox than they are to an October ticket.
In fact they are a modest three game losing streak from being even .500 in late August.
This team needed this win. They needed a win to make a statement that this losing streak is a mere hiccup. They needed their star hitters to hit and an All-Star pitcher to pick up the slack.
For four innings it looked like the perfect script was unfolding.
Instead they experienced a potential back breaker.
The Angels might not win anything now. And after tonight, it might be safe to say that they do not deserve to.