July is an early month to give up on a team like the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, but Tuesday night’s lackluster performance may have been the final nail in this season’s coffin.

The Angels scored just two runs against John Lackey and the Boston Red Sox, the second consecutive game they failed to score less than three.

In fact, in July alone, the Angels have scored four runs or more only eight times in 23 contests, contributing to a miserable 8-15 record this month and an 8½ game deficit in the AL West.

Prior to that, the Angels had averaged close to six runs per game in the month of June and remained competitive after a slow start to the season. But after all the hard work it took to claw their way back to respectability, they now stand just one game over .500.

Now, every team goes through its peaks and valleys in a given season. It’s difficult for any player or squad to maintain a consistently high level of play over the course of 162 games.

But unfortunately, the Angels have timed their downfall rather poorly.

While they suffer in the midst of a prolonged slump made of spotty pitching, sluggish defense, and inconsistent offense, the division-leading Texas Rangers continue to surge forward, putting miles of ground between themselves and their divisional rivals.

What’s more, the inverse paths of these two teams have given the Angels a problem no outside force can solve.

Where once it looked like the addition of another heavy hitter in the lineup would make the Angels contenders again, it now looks like they are too far back for any bat acquired in a trade to make a significant impact.

This is because the problem is not the lack of one guy, but rather the missing production of several.

Despite Bobby Abreu’s two home runs against the Red Sox this week, he is still batting .210 in July and has only five RBI in his last 10 games.

Hideki Matsui’s magical playoff run for the New York Yankees last season that culminated in a World Series MVP may have been the last violent flicker of a candle that’s all but burned out. His .253 average is not what the Angels had in mind with they gave him a one-year deal this offseason.

Juan Rivera is starting to emerge from his season-long slump and heat up here in the second half, as is his MO. Still, he is far from the consistent power threat this team needs him to be.

In the infield, Alberto Callaspo has yet to adjust to his new old surroundings, while Howie Kendrick and Erick Aybar are swinging well below their capabilities.

As a whole, the Angels struggle like mad to find hits with men in scoring position, produce extra-base hits, get runners in motion with stolen bases and hit-and-run plays, or show any confidence whatsoever at the plate when trailing late in games.

Only Torii Hunter continues to be a reliable source of offense, and even he is starting to show signs of frustration at the plate, arguing with umps as he watches called strike threes go by.

Surely, his knees are buckling under the full weight of the team he carries on his back.

Meanwhile, Manager Mike Scioscia stubbornly clings to the notion that the run-on-contact play—where the runner on third with less than two outs breaks for the plate when the batter makes contact with the ball—is still a good idea with the infield pulled in.

Ridiculous. Because if the ball gets through the defense for a base hit, the runner can practically walk home. But if the ball is hit at an infielder, the runner is a dead duck at the plate, just as Rivera was on Tuesday.

And now it seems the Angels’ disturbing lack of offense is finally starting to affect their defense. There is simply no other excuse for talented veterans and brilliant youngsters to play as poorly as this.

Abreu and Rivera, age aside, have no business stumbling around the outfield like rookies playing out of position. The infielders aren’t immune either, making spectacular grabs but still faltering where teamwork is involved.

Even Kendrick, who has improved his defense by leaps and bounds at second base, still manages to commit mental errors like the one on Tuesday, when he threw a ball to no one in particular and resulted in a run for Boston.

These kinds of weak errors, this frightened and anemic offense, not to mention the unaccountable bullpen—they aren’t just costing the Angels games, they’re costing the season.

And they’re not the kind of issues that a Ty Wigginton, a Jorge Cantu, or even an Adam Dunn can help this team address.

At this point, the Angels are a sinking ship and one more bucket, no matter the size, just isn’t going to do much to bail them out.

General Manager Tony Reagins has already pulled off his annual big-time trade and he may well have a few more calls to make before Saturday’s trade deadline.

But if he hopes to save his team from the nightmare of a lost season in July, the call must come from inside the house.

Scioscia lit a fire under his team last season when the Angels were scuffling at the .500 mark in mid-June, threatening to send each and every man down to the minors if something didn’t change.

The Angels finished the season with 97 wins and a franchise record for runs scored.

This year, the motivation might be too little too late, but it must come all the same.

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