How do the Angels turn things around? Keep the ‘same attitude’

Phil Nevin did not leave Angel Stadium when he typically would after Sunday’s game. The Angels manager, coming off a crushing loss to the Houston Astros, wanted to reflect.

“I stayed in here quite a bit longer last night,” Nevin said. “When I left, there was still a lot of guys sitting around. Sometimes you need that to cleanse things and get it out of your system before you go — knowing you come back, same attitude, same effort, same focus on [the next] game.”

The Angels that showed up to the ballpark on Monday seemed committed to turning that emotional page.

The players smiled, they cheered for one another in their usual pregame scrum before the bulk of their on-field preparation, a routine they have had throughout the season. These Angels, who have preached all year about sticking together through good and bad times, appeared to be staying the course.

“Yesterday’s over, today’s a new day,” outfielder Mickey Moniak said Monday, adding: “We got the guys; things are gonna start turning here soon.”

The outcome on Monday was a 4-3, 10-inning win over the New York Yankees, a team also experiencing struggles and injuries to star players of late. It was the Angels’ second win in three games, which came on the heels of a 1-10 stretch that dropped the Angels below .500 for the first time since April 24.

Similar to Saturday’s extra-inning win, Monday’s game carried its own weight. After the way they lost on Sunday, a loss to the Yankees would have made the emotional recovery that much more frustrating.

“After [Sunday], you come out on the wrong end today, and that one, it can knock you down pretty good,” Nevin said.

The Angels’ recent two wins were encouraging and better for team morale, but they still face long odds at getting to the playoffs. Entering Tuesday’s games, the Angels were nine games out of first in the American League West and 5½ games out of a wild-card spot. They had an 8.3% chance at making the postseason, according to FanGraphs.

Injuries have certainly been a factor for the Angels, but there are other teams that have navigated injuries and are still in position for playoff spots. The Dodgers, for example, have 14 players on their injured list, five of whom are starting pitchers — including their three-time Cy Young Award winner, Clayton Kershaw — and sit in first place in the National League West.

Among the various inconsistencies they’ve demonstrated — defensive miscues, flat offense, pitching — the Angels’ starting rotation in particular has hit a snag lately, which has added stress to the bullpen.

Even two-way star Shohei Ohtani, who has been dealing with a cracked fingernail that turned into a blister issue, has gone only five innings in each of his last two starts. Left-hander Tyler Anderson has been inefficient, getting lifted after only three innings and 85 pitches in Sunday’s loss to the Astros, and pitching only 4 1/3 innings in a loss to the Dodgers on July 7.

Patrick Sandoval, before his start Tuesday night, had pitched at least five innings in his last five starts, and while he held the Padres to two runs in his previous outing on July 5, he gave up seven runs to the White Sox on June 29.

On the flip side, the recent performance of left-hander Reid Detmers, despite a 2-6 record, offers a glimpse of what’s needed if the Angels expect to turn things around. Detmers had four consecutive quality starts from June 14 through July 2 (three of those were no-decisions), and in his first start after the All-Star break, he threw six innings and gave up four runs against the Astros on Saturday. Right-hander Griffin Canning, for his part, followed suit by pitching into the sixth inning Monday night and striking out 12 in the Angels’ eventual win over the Yankees.

Whether the rest of the staff can build on those efforts remains to be seen.

“You just gotta keep going, keep your head down,” Detmers said. “We got a good club. Just gotta play better at certain times. We gotta pitch better and at certain times we gotta hit better. It takes a whole team to win. We all gotta do our jobs, and at the end of the day we’ll win a lot more games.”