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Angels after sweep: Still a lot of season left

By Alden Gonzalez / MLB.com | July 31, 2015

HOUSTON -- It all seems so grim for the Angels now, not long after it all seemed so pleasant. They were swept in a three-game series at Minute Maid Park on Thursday night, Jason Castro's two-out, three-run walk-off homer serving as the final blow in a 3-0 loss.

Now the Angels trail the Astros by two games in the American League West, a division the Angels led by two games as recently as eight days ago. And now they fly back to Southern California, to face Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke in Los Angeles.

"This series could have gone either way," Angels first baseman Albert Pujols said. "We could have won three. I don't think there's any momentum. There's still a lot of season left. They pitched well, caught a couple of breaks and beat us, but it's not like we're 10 games out. Last year, we were worse than what we are now, and we won the division by 10 games."

It was around this time last year when the A's made the big moves before the non-waiver Trade Deadline, bolstering their rotation with Jon Lester and Jeff Samardzija only to see the Angels run away with the division. Now it's the Astros who have stolen the headlines in late July, acquiring center fielder Carlos Gomez on Thursday and then watching their other addition, Scott Kazmir, shut out his former team through 7 2/3 innings.

"Look, there's a lot of baseball left," Angels catcher Chris Iannetta said. "There's teams that get hot. We got hot in the middle of August [last year]. If they sustain the way that they're playing the last couple weeks over the next two and a half months, I tip my cap to them. But it's going to be up-and-down, it's going to be a back-and-forth."

The Angels spent the first three months of the season as a perpetually .500 team and then suddenly took off, winning 17 of 20 games to vault into first place.

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Angels add trio of veteran outfielders via trades

By Alden Gonzalez / MLB.com | July 29th, 2015 

HOUSTON -- The Angels acquired left-handed-hitting outfielders David Murphy and David DeJesus on Tuesday, one day after trading for right-handed-hitting outfielder Shane Victorino. The moves -- made without parting with any premium starting-pitching prospects -- give Angels manager Mike Scioscia the ability to platoon in left field and designated hitter, the two most troubled spots of his lineup. Rather than splurge on a premium bat in what continued to be a tough buyers' market for offense, the Angels opted for volume. "The results will show up on the field, but I feel a lot better getting some guys who can play left, feel a whole lot better about our chances," interim general manager Bill Stoneman said on a conference call. "I especially like that we got some veteran guys who have been around."

For Murphy, the Angels sent Double-A shortstop Eric Stamets to the Indians. For DeJesus, rookie-level starter Eduar Lopez went to the Rays. Triple-A relievers Vinnie Pestano and Jeremy McBryde were designated for assignment to create room on the 40-man roster, and the Angels will announce corresponding moves to put Murphy and DeJesus on the active roster on Wednesday.

DeJesus and Victorino -- acquired from the Red Sox for Triple-A shortstop Josh Rutledge on Monday -- are expected to platoon in left field, while Murphy platoons with right-handed power hitter C.J. Cron at designated hitter.

Fellow left-handed-hitting outfielder Matt Joyce -- batting .178 and currently on the seven-day concussion disabled list -- seemingly no longer has a role, but he will remain on the team for now. DeJesus ($5 million) and Murphy ($7 million) both have affordable club options for next season. "It's going to give us a little more balance," Scioscia said. "Both those guys have been hitting right-handed pitching well this year, so they'll definitely help out."

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