Results tagged ‘ Red Sox ’
Jerry Dipoto and Mike Scioscia are both coming back, and now they have a coaching staff to round out. Bench coach Rob Picciolo and hitting coach Jim Eppard were let go, Dino Ebel was promoted to bench coach and three spots are now open: third-base coach, hitting coach and a third, unidentified spot (perhaps an assistant hitting coach).
With that in mind, below is a list of potential candidates. Keep in mind that this is not an exhaustive list; there are several others who will be interviewed for the open spots. Some is based on indications I’ve received, some are just my own speculation. Here goes …
Wally Joyner: He’ll definitely draw some strong interest as hitting coach. He just declined to return as the Phillies’ assistant hitting coach and was well-regarded in that clubhouse. And, you know, there’s that whole “Wally World” thing. Scioscia had him on his team in 2001.
Tim Bogar: He was the Red Sox’s third-base coach from 2010 to 2012, before taking a job as manager of the Angels’ Double-A affiliate in Arkansas, and is considered a future managerial candidate throughout the industry.
Troy Percival: Scioscia is a big fan of the former Angels closer. The Angels hired him in 2007 to be a special assignment pitching instructor, but he walked away soon after to make a comeback in the Majors. He’s currently the baseball coach at his alma mater, Moreno Valley High School.
Brett Butler: The former Dodgers center fielder has been managing the D-backs’ Triple-A affiliate since 2008 and had a good relationship with Dipoto dating back to the GM’s time in Arizona.
Leon Durham: He’s spent the last 12 years as hitting coach for Triple-A Toledo, in the Tigers’ organization, and has been drawing interest for the same role in the Majors over the last couple of years.
Eddie Rodriguez: He was just dismissed by the Royals, who brought ex-Cubs skipper Dale Sveum to Ned Yost‘s coaching staff, and was considered a good third-base coach in Kansas City.
Daren Brown: The Mariners will presumably be cleaning house with their coaching staff after manager Eric Wedge left. Brown finished the year as the third-base coach — promoted from Triple-A, where he was manager, after Jeff Datz was diagnosed with cancer midseason — and is considered a good baseball man. Brown was interim manager in Seattle for 50 games towards the end of 2010.
Dave Anderson: He was just dismissed as the Rangers’ first-base coach, and he has a history with assistant GM Scott Servais (from their time together in Texas) and Scioscia (they were teammates on the Dodgers).
Omar Vizquel: The current Angels roving infield instructor figures to be a hot managerial candidate very soon and is very well thought of throughout the organization. He’s never had experience as a third-base coach, he likely won’t fit as a hitting coach, and Alfredo Griffin already handles the infielder. But perhaps he can be looked at for the final coaching spot. He’d definitely bring a lot of energy.
The Angels are hosting the Red Sox for their final home series before the All-Star break. And both teams have won eight of their last nine games. Should be fun.
Red Sox (53-34)
SP: RH Felix Doubront (4-3, 4.22 ERA)
SP: LH C.J. Wilson (8-5, 3.63 ERA)
- Jerome Williams, who threw 55 pitches on Tuesday, will take the ball against the Red Sox on Saturday. He’ll be on two-days’ rest, but Williams doesn’t feel very tired because he basically had half an outing on Wednesday — and he says his arm is never tired. The other option was Michael Roth, but Mike Scioscia chose to go with Williams on short rest, partly because the off-days on Monday and Thursday allow him to buy some time. Angels won’t need a fifth starter by July 23, and perhaps by that time Tommy Hanson and/or Jason Vargas will be back.
- Hamilton is batting sixth, one day after tying the game with a home run. For now, at least, Scioscia likes flip-flopping Trumbo and Hamilton in the order depending on whether it’s a lefty or righty starting.
- Asked Scioscia today about the possibility of moving Trout to the No. 3 spot and temporarily moving Pujols (3-for-31 in his last eight games) down in the order to relieve some pressure off him. Looks like that is not going to happen in the near future. Here’s what Scioscia said: “When Mike goes to the 3-spot, we’re going to re-work a lot of the lineup. I think you’re definitely looking for some table-setters in the 1 and 2 spot if you have Mike in the 3 spot. I’m not sure we have that much depth right now. I think with Albert, it’s just a matter of time before he’s doing some of the things we need. He’s had a rough stretch his last 30 or 40 at-bats, but he’s still a presence in the lineup and we’re still winning games. We definitely need his production. I think that you’re only going to dramatically change a lineup if it’s for the greater good of the whole group. And I’m not sure if there’s any lineups that we’ve looked at that would move Albert out of that hole that are going to move us ahead at this point right now.”
- Hanson played catch for a second time today since landing on the DL with a forearm strain.
- Peter Bourjos will spend next week rehabbing his injured wrist in Arizona.
Albert Pujols hit a first-inning homer off Ryan Dempster on Sunday, giving him eight for his career against his long time National League Central foe. And the next time Pujols came up, with first base open and two outs in the third inning, Dempster hit him, his 0-1 fastball grazing Pujols’ jersey and making contact with his ribcage.
Pujols glared at Dempster while on his way to first, and postgame, he admitted to being upset by the pitch.
“I was kind of mad,” Pujols said after his team’s 10-5 loss at Fenway Park. “After you hit a home run, then you come right back, up and in like that — I wasn’t too happy about it. … I know Dempster, he’s a great dude, and I’m pretty sure he didn’t mean to do it. But it just didn’t look right after my first at-bat, and with the base open to try to come in up and in, I didn’t appreciate it. I let him know. I told him. That wasn’t right.”
Pujols and Dempster have a long history, and it all leans in Pujols’ favor. The Angels’ first baseman has now hit eight homers against Dempster, more than he’s hit against any other pitcher. For his career against the 36-year-old right-hander, Pujols is 21-for-60 (a .350 batting average) with 17 RBIs, 13 walks and five doubles. This is the first time he’s ever been hit by one of his pitches.
“Did he stare?” Dempster began when asked about Pujols’ reaction. “I was just trying to throw a pitch on the inside part of the plate and, you know, you got to be able to get your plate and it just rode up a little hard and in.
“I’m not trying to put extra runners on base right there especially with Trumbo coming up and things like that. It’s just one of those things where a hit batter is part of the game. “
Pujols doesn’t believe Dempster was trying to hit him on purpose, but said he’s been thrown inside by him “many times.”
“That’s the way he pitches,” Pujols said. “He’s an intelligent guy. He’s a guy who was a closer, and he’s a guy who, now being a starter the last five, six years, he knows what the hitter wants to do out there. He’s really smart. But like I said, it’s not a big deal. I don’t think it can go farther than it did today.
“He was probably setting me up for his next pitch and the ball probably slipped away from him, but I wasn’t too happy about it.”
Mike Scioscia — his club 26-34, coming off losing five of six to the Astros and Cubs, and entering a brutal nine-game stretch against the Red Sox, Orioles and Yankees — made some drastic changes to his lineup for Game 1 of Saturday’s split doubleheader. Mike Trout is back at leadoff, Josh Hamilton is batting second for the first time in six years, Howie Kendrick has moved up to fifth and Erick Aybar is at the No. 8 spot.
Here, I’ll simplify it for you: This is all about Hamilton, and trying to find some way to get him going.
Will he get better pitches to hit simply because he’s batting between Trout and Albert Pujols (starting at designated hitter)?
Probably not. But it certainly won’t hurt.
Is this the kind of change that can finally get him going?
Who knows. But, hey, why not?
“It’s something we’ve talked about for the last couple weeks and it’s the lineup we talked about before,” Scioscia said. “Right now, it’d be a good spot for Josh to hit between Mike and Albert, and hopefully get him into a different neighborhood. We need Josh to get it going, and it might be something that can spark him.”
Hamilton heads into Saturday’s split doubleheader with a .216/.278/.383 slash line, with eight homers, 18 RBIs and 62 strikeouts in 59 games. He’s made six previous starts in the No. 2 spot, and all of them came during his rookie year of 2007, when the Reds simply had no idea what they’d get from Hamilton.
The Angels have tried everything with their slumping, $125 million slugger. On April 22, he batted fifth against a lefty. On April 30, he began to hit fifth against everybody. And on three separate occasions — May 4, May 18 and June 3 — he was given a day off to clear his head. Recently, he and hitting coach Jim Eppard talked about going back to his pregame routine of 2010.
Now, he’s batting second.
“If you’re looking at what makes sense on paper, obviously you’d want Josh somewhere in the middle of your lineup, but that’s not what we’re dealing with right now,” Scioscia said. “Hopefully with the emergence of Mark [Trumbo] and the emergence of Howie swinging like they can, we’ll be able to keep the middle of the lineup where we need it, and just give Josh a chance to get into a comfort zone where he is.”
Here are the full lineups for Game 1 …
Alberto Callaspo, 3B
Chris Iannetta, C
J.B. Shuck, LF
SP: Tommy Hanson (2-2, 4.19 ERA)
Red Sox (37-24)
Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
Daniel Nava, RF
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
David Ortiz, DH
Mike Napoli, 1B
Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C
Mike Carp, LF
Stephen Drew, SS
Jose Iglesias, 3B
SP: Felix Doubront (4-2, 4.88 ERA)
- At six hours and 32 minutes, it was the longest game in Angels history, surpassing the six-hour, six-minute game played on April 13, 1982 against the Mariners (20 innings).
- Innings-wise, it was the third-longest in Angels history. The Angels have played 20 innings twice, on the above-mentioned game against Seattle and July 9, 1971, against the A’s. That means two of the three 19-inning games in Angels history have been walk-off losses to the A’s.
- It was the longest MLB game since the Pirates beat the Cardinals, 6-3, in 19 innings on Aug. 19, 2012, in St. Louis; it was the longest AL game since the White Sox beat the Red Sox, 6-5, in 19 innings on July 9, 2006, in Chicago.
- The 18 runs scored were the fourth-most in 19-inning, Major League history.
- The two clubs used a combined 16 pitches (eight each) and threw a combined 597 pitches. The 297 pitches the Angels threw were the most since at least 1988.
- Howie Kendrick and Brendan Harris each went 2-for-9, becoming the second and third Angels players to log nine at-bats in a game. The first was Don Baylor, who went 5-for-9 on 4/13/82. It was the first game since 1993 to have three players (also Jed Lowrie) log nine at-bats in a game.
- Six different Angels pitchers allowed a run for the fifth time in team history, and first time since Sept. 30, 2000.
- Four players (Peter Bourjos, Luis Jimenez, Coco Crisp, Chris Young) exited early with injuries.
- Seven of the Angels’ nine position players went the full 19 innings, including catcher Chris Iannetta, who worked 18 2/3 innings behind the plate. The last American League catchers to be behind the plate for more than 18 innings in a game were A.J. Pierzynski and Jason Varitek in 2006, in a game between the White Sox and Red Sox that ended with one out in the bottom of the 19th.
I wrote recently about the Angels’ own prestigious “Big Three” of Mike Trout, Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton — how they could potentially hold up historically and in this era.
But how do they hold up in 2013? There’s little debate that the Angels now have the most talented and celebrated lineup trio in baseball, giving them arguably the game’s most potent offense. But I was a little stunned that their 2012 stats didn’t show it.
In fact, when combining each of their OPS from 2012, the Angels’ trio ranked third, behind those of the Tigers and Reds. Below is the top 15, based on combined OPS of the top three current players in each lineup (minimum is 400 plate appearances) …
- Tigers (Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder, Austin Jackson): 2.795
- Reds (Joey Votto, Ryan Ludwick, Jay Bruce): 2.759
- Angels (Trout, Pujols, Hamilton): 2.752
- Brewers (Ryan Braun, Aramis Ramirez, Corey Hart): 2.729
- Red Sox (David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, Mike Napoli*): 2.635
- Blue Jays (Edwin Encarnacion, Jose Reyes, Melky Cabrera): 2.627
- Cardinals (Matt Holliday, Allen Craig, Yadier Molina): 2.627
- Rangers (Adrian Beltre, David Murphy, A.J. Pierzynski): 2.607
- Rockies (Carlos Gonzalez, Dexter Fowler, Tyler Colvin): 2.602
- Pirates (Andrew McCutchen, Garrett Jones, Pedro Alvarez): 2.569
- D-backs (Aaron Hill, Paul Goldschmidt, Jason Kubel): 2.565
- Yankees (Robinson Cano, Curtis Granderson, Mark Teixeira): 2.547
- Twins (Josh Willingham, Joe Mauer, Ryan Doumit): 2.532
- Giants (Buster Posey, Pablo Sandoval, Brandon Belt): 2.527
- Dodgers (Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, Adrian Gonzalez): 2.524
* Napoli’s deal still hasn’t been finalized.
** A special thanks to all of you for making this blog the 10th-most popular among MLB.com beat writers in 2012. You’re the whipped cream on my sundae.
In honor of Paul Simon, who told you about the 50 Ways To Leave Your Lover, below are Five Ways To Leave Vernon Wells. Not as catchy, I know. And it’s not as easy as slipping out the back (Jack), or making a new plan (Stan), or hopping off the bus (Gus) — OK, I’ll stop.
The best way to get it done may be a little bad-contract swapping.
Look, it’s no secret the Angels would prefer to part ways with Wells, who’s owed $42 million through the 2014 season. At this point, they can’t expect much salary relief (if any) in the process, but what they can do is create some breathing room in a clogged-up outfield and perhaps get a player back who can help them in an area of need. At the same time, they’d probably be helping Wells, sending him to a place where he can play more regularly. The best way to do it, perhaps, is to try and find a match with a team that has a similarly unfriendly contract. The Cubs did it in 2009, sending the volatile Milton Bradley to the Mariners in exchange for Carlos Silva. The Angels themselves tried to do it last offseason, with Bobby Abreu slated to return to the Yankees before A.J. Burnett evoked his limited no-trade clause.
Is there a similar partner for Wells this offseason? Below are some possibilities. Two things to keep in mind: 1. This is merely speculative — nothing more than my own opinion; 2. The Angels may consider the next two years of Wells’ contract a wash, so perhaps they’ll have little issue with paying the difference in a trade. The benefit for them is creating flexibility in the outfield — perhaps easing a return for Torii Hunter — while getting a player who may help them. If they can save a couple million dollars, too, even better.
BOS SP John Lackey ($30.5M thru ’14)
After winning 102 games, posting a 3.81 ERA and having a few memorable postseason moments in eight seasons with the Angels, Lackey put up a 4.40 ERA in his first year with the Red Sox, followed by a 6.41 ERA in 2011, followed by Tommy John surgery in October that knocked him out for all of this past season. But the soon-to-be 34-year-old progressed towards the end of the year, should have a normal offseason and is expected to be ready to go by the start of Spring Training. Would Boston go for it? They have Jacoby Ellsbury in center and there appears to be strong mutual interest in Cody Ross returning. Other than that, though, they have several uncertainties in Daniel Nava, Ryan Sweeney and Ryan Kalish. Wells, meanwhile, may be a nice fit for the Green Monster, and to them, Lackey may represent part of that toxic clubhouse they’re still trying to fumigate.
NYY 3B Alex Rodriguez ($114M thru ’17)
It’s an easy place to go these days, since A-Rod is getting benched in the playoffs while being booed mercifully by the home crowd and the Angels could use an upgrade at third base. But A-Rod’s deal extends three years longer than Wells’, at $61 million. I’m thinking one $200 million deal (Albert Pujols) is enough in Anaheim.
CWS DH Adam Dunn ($30M thru ’14)
Bringing him on board as a lefty middle-of-the-order hitter could free up a trade for Kendrys Morales, who’s heading into his final year before free agency. But Dunn turned it around in 2012, raising his OPS from .569 to .800, and may claim AL Comeback Player of the Year honors for it (Morales is also in the running). This no longer looks like a salary dump for the White Sox.
SEA UT Chone Figgins ($8M in ’13, $9M vesting option in ’14)
This is one that seems to make sense for both sides. Figgins has said he wants out of Seattle, and he’d probably embrace a return to the place he thrived from 2002-09. The Angels could use a utility man with Maicer Izturis expected to depart via free agency (though Figgins doesn’t help them at shortstop). The Mariners, meanwhile, are in desperate need of power and Wells may be a nice fit now that they’re moving the fences in at Safeco Field. One problem: The money. In case you hadn’t noticed, Figgins’ deal is a lot friendlier than Wells’. But, hey, if the Angels see Wells’ contract as a wash, that may not be an issue. By the way, Figgins’ 2014 option automatically vests with 600 plate appearances in 2013 — meaning it probably won’t automatically vest.
SFG SP Barry Zito ($20M in ’13, $18M club option — and $7M buyout — in ’14)
Another one that may fill needs on both sides. Zito would move into the Angels’ rotation — a rotation that could lose up to three-fifths of the 2012 makeup — and Wells would go to a team that, like the Mariners, is perpetually looking for offense. Plus, Melky Cabrera and Angel Pagan will hit free agency this offseason. But do the Giants really benefit from this? Though obviously no longer the same pitcher, Zito had a descent year with a 4.15 ERA in 184 1/3 innings. And in their desire to upgrade the offense, the Giants, three wins away from the World Series, may have higher aspirations than Wells. Zito, by the way, has a full no-trade clause — but he is a SoCal product.
Not mentioned: CHC LF Alfonso Soriano ($36M thru ’14); NYM LF Jason Bay ($16M in ’13, $17M club option in ’14); NYM SP Johan Santana ($25.5M in ’13, $25M club option in ’14); LAD SP Josh Beckett and 3B Hanley Ramirez ($31.5M thru ’14 each); LAD LF Carl Crawford ($102.5M thru ’17); MIA RP Heath Bell ($18M thru ’14).
The 20th Arizona Fall League season starts Tuesday, with the Angels — along with the Giants, Nationals, Phillies and Red Sox — sending prospects to make up the Scottsdale Scorpions. The Rising Stars Game is Nov. 3 (Salt River Fields at Talking Stick) and the championship game for the six-team league will be Nov. 17 (Scottsdale Stadium).
Last year, Mike Trout played in this event. This year, Randal Grichuk — who’s known mostly for being drafted a spot before Trout but has quietly put together a nice season — is going. Nick Maronde was going to go, but since he missed the early part of the year with a strained lat muscle and he pitched through September, the Angels decided that he hold off. Veteran-ish reliever Bobby Cassevah is taking his place.
The one to watch here, though, will be 20-year-old third baseman Kaleb Cowart, who became the Angels’ top-ranked prospect after a solid A ball season. Below is the full slate of Angels representatives. Carlos Ramirez is on the taxi squad, which means he’ll only be activated Wednesdays and Saturdays. Brandon Emanuel, pitching coach for Class A Inland Empire, is part of the Scorpions’ coaching staff.
LHRP Buddy Boshers
Draft: 4th round, 2008
2012 (A+,AA): 2.98 ERA, 45 G (11 GF), 63 1/3 IP, 10.7 K/9, 3.0 BB/9, 1.25 WHIP
Career (5 seasons): 3.81 ERA, 150 G (34 GS, 26 GF), 324 IP, 8.5 K/9, 3.3 BB/9, 2.56 WHIP
MLB.com prospect rank: Unranked
RHRP Bobby Cassevah
Draft: 34th round, 2004
2012 (A+, AAA): 5.79 ERA, 49 G (18 GF), 51 1/3 IP, 5.6 SO/9, 3.7 BB/9, 1.66 WHIP
Career (8 seasons): 4.53 ERA, 268 G (14 GS, 96 GF), 401 2/3 IP, 6.1 SO/9, 4.5 BB/9, 1.59 WHIP
MLB.com prospect rank: Unranked
Cassevah isn’t what you would call a prospect, by any stretch, combining to make 46 appearances in the Majors from 2010-11 (posting a 2.87 ERA and a 1.30 WHIP). But he began the season on the disabled list with shoulder inflammation and never quite got right throughout the year — making four appearances in the Majors and struggling mightily in the PCL — which is probably why he wants to get more work in this fall.
RHRP Ryan Chaffee
Drafted: 3rd round, 2008
2012 (A+, AA): 2.60 ERA, 55 G (21 GF), 65 2/3 IP, 11.5 SO/9, 4.9 BB/9, 1.17 WHIP
Career (4 seasons): 5.36 ERA, 132 G (58 GS, 27 GF), 393 IP, 8.8 SO/9, 4.6 BB/9, 1.47 WHIP
MLB.com prospect rank: Unranked
RHRP Kevin Johnson
Drafted: 20th round, 2010
2012 (AA, AAA): 3.69 ERA, 56 G (41 GF), 18 SV, 63 1/3 IP, 4.4 SO/9, 2.3 BB/9, 1.39 WHIP
Career (3 seasons): 4.34 ERA, 121 IP (10 GS, 72 GF), 193 IP, 6 SO/9, 3.2 BB/9, 1.48 WHIP
MLB.com prospect rank: Unranked
C Carlos Ramirez
Drafted: 8th round, 2009
2012 (AA): .204/.312/.276, 2 HR, 23 RBI, 85 G
Career (4 seasons): .269/.371/.416, 25 HR, 134 RBI, 291 G
MLB.com prospect rank: 19th on Angels
Prospect report: Ramirez still has some things to work out offensively, as his numbers haven’t shown much consistency from league to league. Though he’s notched a very respectable average across four levels, the disparity between his performance in the hitter-friendly California League and each of his other stops leaves some room for concern. Ramirez is a strong defensive backstop, knows how to handle a pitching staff and has the makeup that should allow him to be an everyday catcher. If the bat doesn’t come around, his glove could land him a job as a backup at the highest level.
3B Kaleb Cowart
Drafted: 1st round (18th overall), 2010
2012 (A, A+): .276/.358/.452, 16 HR, 103 RBI, 14 SB, 135 G
Career (3 seasons): .275/.349/.437, 24 HR, 150 RBI, 25 SB, 214 G
MLB.com prospect rank: 1st on the Angels, 46th overall
Prospect report: Cowart is a switch-hitter with a lot of bat speed that generates plus raw power from both sides of the plate. He started tapping into that power more consistently as he’s started to mature and learn the strike zone better. He’s athletic and has decent speed, which should help him stay at third long term. So will the plus arm that made him a legitimate pitching prospect in high school. He handled full-season ball well, earning a promotion from Class A to the Class A Advanced California League in June.
OF Randal Grichuk
Drafted: 1st round (24th overall), 2009
2012 (A+): .298/.335/.488, 18 HR, 71 RBI, 16 SB, 135 G
Career (4 seasons): .296/.331/.507, 39 HR, 195 RBI, 26 SB, 305 G
MLB.com prospect rank: 12th on the Angels
Prospect report: Grichuk may forever be paired witih the other high school outfielder taken by the Angels in the first round of the 2009 Draft. What that outfielder, Mike Trout, has done, speaks for itself, but Grichuk has had a harder time moving up the ladder, largely because of injury issues. Grichuk was actually taken one slot above Trout, but 2012 was his first season with more than 300 at-bats. When he’s healthy, he’s shown glimpses of the pop that made him a first rounder along with some base-stealing acumen. He needs more time to work on the holes in his swing, but he’s still young enough to tap into that raw power and be a run-producing corner outfielder, taking a positive step forward in 2012.
CF Travis Witherspoon
Drafted: 12th round, 2009
2012 (A+,AA): .268/.350/.418, 13 HR, 48 RBI, 34 SB (11 CS), 121 G
Career (4 seasons): .264/.332/.417, 42 HR, 171 RBI, 110 SB, 373 G
MLB.com prospect rank: 7th on the Angels
Prospect report: Witherspoon has lots of tools and the potential to be an above-average everyday player when everything comes together. He has a solid arm and plus speed, and he knows how to run a route, making him an excellent defender in the outfield. On the other side of the ball, he has the strength and bat speed to hit for power but still has work left to do in taming his aggressive approach. He’s also a plus runner with good instincts and can do some damage on the basepaths, especially if he continues to develop patience and makes more contact at the plate. Witherspoon was promoted to Double-A Arkansas on June 20. He was placed on the disabled list on July 3, with a left quad strain.
The kid went to Mr. Owl to find out how many licks it takes to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop. (Big mistake.) We’ll go with Mr. History with our own inquiry.
Us: Mr. History, how many wins will it take to get the second Wild Card in the American League?
History: Let’s see … one, a-two-hoo, a-three … 88.
88. Or, more precisely, 88.24. From 1995 (the first year divisional play was actually put into practice) and 2011 (the last year before the new playoff format), that’s the average number of wins by the American League team that would’ve claimed the second Wild Card spot under this new system.
For the Angels, now a season-best 14 games over .500 while at 77-63, that means a mere 11-11 record the rest of the way. Totally do-able. But, of course, it’s not so simple. Every year, it’s different. And this year, the Orioles, Athletics and Rays — with combined payrolls of just under $200 million — have all surprised and don’t show signs of slowing down. But the Rays (tied with the Angels for third place in the AL Wild Card race) are on pace for 88 wins, the Orioles (one-game lead on the Angels for the second AL Wild Card spot) are on pace for 89 and the Athletics (2 1/2 games ahead of the Angels for the first AL Wild Card spot) are on pace for 90.
So perhaps that figure isn’t very far off.
The most wins by the team that would’ve claimed the second AL Wild Card spot over the previous 17 years is 93. For the Angels, that would mean a much more difficult 16-6 finish over their last 22 games (4 vs. OAK, 3 at KCR, 3 vs. TEX, 3 vs. CWS, 3 vs. SEA, 3 at TEX, 3 at SEA).
Here’s a year-by-year look at the above-mentioned …
2011: 90 (Red Sox)
2010: 89 (Red Sox)
2009: 87 (Rangers)
2008: 89 (Yankees)
2007: 88 (Mariners/Tigers)
2006: 90 (White Sox)
2005: 93 (Indians)
2004: 91 (Athletics)
2003: 93 (Mariners)
2002: 93 (Red Sox/Mariners)
2001: 85 (Twins)
2000: 90 (Indians)
1999: 87 (Athletics)
1998: 88 (Blue Jays)
1997: 84 (Angels)
1996: 85 (Mariners/White Sox/Red Sox)
1995: 78 (Angels)
With their 3-2 win over the Tigers on Sunday, the Angels — thanks in large part to a rotation that’s finally living up to its billing — have won six in a row, 11 of their last 12 and 15 of their last 18, after starting the second half at 14-22. Next up, they’ll face an A’s team they recently swept but is coming off its own sweep of the Mariners.
With a win tonight, the Angels can sweep their first season series against the Red Sox in club history. The Angels have won seven straight against Boston dating back to May 4 of last year, representing their third-longest winning streak ever against them. While going 5-0 against the Red Sox this year — sweeping a three-game set at Fenway Park at the start of last week, taking the first two here — the Angels have outscored them 42-27.
Red Sox (62-69)
Pitching: LH Jon Lester (8-10, 4.98 ERA)
Pitching: RH Zack Greinke (2-2, 5.22 ERA)
- No further updates on Scott Downs, who left the team Sunday night and was placed on the family medical emergency list prior to their next game. Mike Scioscia spoke to him, but wouldn’t go into details about his situation. Asked if he could return for the weekend series against the Mariners, Scioscia said: “We’ll see. It’s going to be one step at a time with Downs. We’ll just see whenever he’s ready to go.”
- Pujols, as you probably noticed, is at DH for the third straight game since returning from a right calf injury on Tuesday. Still no word on when he’ll return to first base, but Scioscia was thinking he could take grounders pregame.
- It seems like the Angels’ rotation (minus the one constant, Jered Weaver) struggled mightily as a group, and recently has turned it around as a group. Over a 44-game stretch beginning in July, they combined to post a 5.48 ERA that ranked 13th in the American League. Over their last eight games, it’s been a 4.18 (with the Angels going 6-2 in that span). Not great, but not terrible. Along the way, Ervin Santana has been much better, with C.J. Wilson, Dan Haren and Greinke each coming off starts you can consider a step forward. “I think there’s definitely some positive momentum that can be created, but one good thing about it is the teams we’ve had here, we’ve always been able to limit the downside of some of the things going on here because we’ve had, especially on the pitching side, we’ve had deep staffs that can go out there and limit some stuff. And that’s what we anticipated this year. We just haven’t seen it as much as we need to.” Maybe they’re starting to?
- Kendrick heads into today’s game riding a 15-game hitting streak (three shy of his career-high) and is batting .344 in August. Quietly, his slash line is .292/.332/.405 for the year. “It’s just been a process, trying to get better. I’ve just been watching some of the guys around me, getting ideas from them, and just trying to get better overall. Trying to be more patient at the plate has helped. And just getting pitches to hit.” More on him later.