It’s Crunch Time: Angels In The Home Stretch


I know this is a cliche, and normally I dislike cliches, but in this case it holds true…

For these Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, if they want to participate in the post-season it’s do or die time, as they, like all of the other MLB contenders, are in the home stretch.

As of today, here’s where Mike Scioscia’s team is at:

A record of 72-63 in the American League’s Western Division, good for third place.

Eight and 1/2 games behind the first-place Texas Rangers and 4 1/2 games behind the second place Oakland A’s, and…

Three and a half games out of the last Wild Card spot.

Speaking of the Athletics, the next week or so will be crucial for the Halos as after their 8-3 win in Oakland yesterday, which included home runs by Torii Hunter, Vernon Wells, and Chris Iannetta, the A’s will be the Angels’ opponent for six out of their next nine games – if they are to have any chance of becoming really serious threats for the post season, the time is now because they are, and will be playing, the team that they have to beat.

After their season opening 6-14 start and their recent August swoon, the Angel players are hanging in there; Hunter has been the hottest Halo as he has batted an unreal .600 the past few weeks, including a stretch in which he was an incredible 13-for-17, which is a common thing for slow-pitch softball hitters but not so much for major league baseball players.

For the season to date, the right fielder has upped his average to .307, with 13 homers and 67 RBIs.

Superman-like rookie Mike Trout is still leading the league with his .332 average, though he has been slipping a bit as the opposing pitchers are inevitably starting to figure him out. His lead in the batting race is but one point over Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera, but I’m sure that if you ask the 21-year old center fielder about that, he’ll tell you that he cares not one iota about the batting crown, that all he wants is to do what he can to help the Angels win.

Albert Pujols has been nursing a bad leg as of late, but he’s clearly on pace for a 30 homer, 100 RBI year as he’s currently at 29 dingers and 92 ribbies to go along with his solid .287 average. It’s safe to say that the first baseman (who’s been a designated hitter of late to protect his leg) has not been a bust in his first year in Anaheim.

As for the pitching, it has likewise been hanging in there for the past week or so.

Jered Weaver has been lights out as usual as the Cy Young Award candidate – he will get more than his fair share of votes – leads the Angels’ starters with a 2.86 earned run average and is second on the team with 121 strikeouts. He’s on track to win 20 games as he’s 16-4 right now, leading the Halos in wins by a lot.

The bullpen may be a prominent reason why the Angels are where they are, but at least it seems as if they have finally found an effective closer as Ernesto Frieri has stepped up to save 17 games with a 2.11 ERA.

Overall, when looking at the situation, I suppose it will be an interesting last 27 games as they will determine whether these Angels will be playing in October or not.

VERY interesting…