Angels week in review: Catching up with Oakland

The Angels went 4-2 last week, sweeping the Twins at home before losing two of three at Kansas City.

The week ahead

The Angels close out a six-game road trip with three in Chicago against the White Sox starting Monday night. Then it’s back home for a four-game series against the Houston Astros, a team they’ve faced 10 times this season, winning six. In July the Angels play 17 of 26 games at Angel Stadium, so it’s worth noting that their 18-4 home record since May 15 is the best in the major leagues.

The week behind

The Angels went 4-2 last week, sweeping the Minnesota Twins at home before losing two of three at Kansas City. They undoubtedly felt they could have won two games against the Royals after blowing a 3-0 lead on Sunday with C.J. Wilson pitching.

Record and standings

Catching the first-place Oakland A’s isn’t going to be easy. Despite a winning week, the Angels still lost ground to the American League West leaders, falling from four games behind to 5½. On the other hand, their 45-35 record gives them a two-game cushion in the wild-card standings. Things could be a lot worse.


Thumb’s up

Someone should take notice of the season shortstop Erick Aybar is having. His defense has been stellar and his offense is worthy of notice as the All-Star Game nears. Aybar leads all AL shortstops with 41 RBIs, only 14 fewer than he had all of last season and his highest total ever at this point in the season. When ASG invitations are handed out, he should get one.

Thumb’s down

No one can fault Albert Pujols for avoiding a slide Sunday against the Royals after he revealed that he’s playing with a swollen lymph node in his groin. That’s why he was tagged out standing up after an apparent double. But it was a costly play in a game the Angels could have won. Understandably, they want his bat in the lineup, but manager Mike Scioscia should step up and make sure Pujols is rested and healthy before he plays. Anything less than that is a risk.

Player to watch

Right fielder Kole Calhoun worried about making the team out of spring training, but he’s been a steady contributor in right field with his bat and glove. Calhoun is hitting .355 (32 for 90) over his past 26 games, and Sunday he led off the game with a home run, his seventh of the season. That’s more than every Angels player except Mike Trout (18), Pujols (16) and C.J. Cron (8).


Stat watch

The Angels’ all-time record is 4,265 wins and 4,4270 losses. Five more victories will put them at .500, and six will send them over the break-even mark since they won the first game in franchise history in 1961.

Quotable

"We are trading a struggling closer for a struggling closer with the idea that a change of scenery will help both." –€“ Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto, on the trade of Ernesto Friero to the Pittsburgh Pirates for Jason Grilli last week