Angels can still salvage their road trip
AUG 05, 2012 5:44p ET
If they can win two of three games in Oakland beginning Monday night, there will be a measure of triumph at the end of an exhausting road trip.
Right now, there's nothing worthy of praise. Everything good the Angels do gets wiped away by their ineffective bullpen. At the All-Star break, they had a group of relievers that could be considered the best in either league. Not anymore.
After Jason Isringhausen lost a 2-1 lead in the seventh inning and the Angels lost to the Chicago White Sox 4-2 at US Cellular Field on Sunday, the Angels were left with a 3-4 record on a 10-game trip that has the makings of a disaster.
In 21 1/3 innings of the current trip, the bullpen has yielded 23 earned runs and lost all four games. The team's 16 blown saves this season lead the league. And on a day when starter Dan Haren gave the Angels a quality start (six innings, one earned run), it was given away by the relievers.
Isringhausen surrendered a two-run, pinch-hit home run to AJ Pierzynski, and Jerome Williams gave up an insurance run in the eighth to drop the Angels' post-break record to 10-13. A win would have allowed them to gain a game on American League West-leading Texas and jump past second-place Oakland, but instead they remain six games out of first and a half-game behind the A's and Detroit Tigers in the wild card scramble.
Time isn't exactly running short, but as the days pass and the season grows shorter, opportunities to pick up ground are becoming fewer. That's why the three upcoming games against the A's suddenly become more important.
If the Angels win two of three, they will put themselves at the top of the wild card race and can re-focus their attention on the Rangers. If they lose two of three, they may have to begin looking at the wild card as their best entry into the playoffs. That's not exactly what they had in mind when the season began, but it could become their goal by the end of the month.
At least they'll have their best pitchers working against the A's, although given recent results, there's no assurance their starters will have their best stuff going. But here are the matchups:
Monday: Jered Weaver (14-1, 2.29 ERA) vs. Jarrod Paker (7-5, 3.44).
Tuesday: CJ Wilson (9-7 but winless since June 26) vs. Bartolo Colon (8-8, 3.55).
Wednesday: Zack Greinke (0-1, 5.14) vs. Dan Straily (0-0, 1.50).
The season is not lost. There are still almost nine weeks of baseball left. But for the Angels, the stretch run begins now.
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