Angels week in review: The hunt for first

Do things get much better than this? The Oakland A's remain an elusive target for the Angels, whose 51-36 record is the second-best in the AL.

Angels ended the week with a 6-1 record.

Gary A. Vasquez / USA TODAY Sports

The week ahead

With one week left before the four-day All-Star break, the Angels play three against the Toronto Blue Jays at home before hitting the road for four games at the Texas Rangers. The Halos won three of four at Toronto in May and are 4-2 against Texas, sweeping a three-game series at Angel Stadium last month.

The week behind

Really, do things get much better than this? The Angels got rained out in Chicago on Monday, then swept a doubleheader the next day before losing the series finale. But they came from behind twice to beat the Houston Astros at home, swept the four-game series and ended the week with a 6-1 record.

Record and standings

The Oakland A's remain an elusive target for the Angels, whose 51-36 record is the second-best in the American League. Despite their hot week, the second-place Angels remain 3½ games behind the first-place A's for a seventh consecutive day.

Thumb's up

Dipoto: Angels formidable enough to catch up with Oakland
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Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports / Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Albert Pujols will probably never hit for average again as he did in St. Louis, but there's little question he still has his old power. Pujols delivered a crushing home run Saturday night to help lift the Angels to an 11-5 win over the Astros, giving him 19 homers this season after he hit a career-low 17 in 2013. It also tied him with Mel Ott for 23rd place on the all-time list at 511.

Thumb's down

The Angels have the best home record in baseball at 30-14, but they'll need a strong finish before the All-Star break to improve on the road. They're still under .500 (21-22) away from Angel Stadium, and it will take a series win this week at Texas to get them over the break-even mark. You can't win in the postseason if you can't win on the road.

Player to watch

Newly acquired Joe Thatcher could be key to the Angels' second-half hopes. The left-handed reliever had a 2.63 ERA in 37 games with the Arizona Diamondbacks and is a control freak, walking just three (with 25 strikeouts) in 24 innings. Even if the Angels didn't make any blockbuster trades, their deal to get Thatcher just might be general manager Jerry Dipoto's most important acquisition this season.

Stat watch

Home is where the Angels' heart is. They've won 13 of their past 16 at Angels Stadium and 10 in a row --€“ the team's longest home win streak 1996.

Quotable

"The pitcher I am this year is far beyond the pitcher I was last year or the year before," – Angels pitcher Garrett Richards, who improved to 10-2 with a 2.71 ERA Sunday, on his ability to succeed this season even when he struggles.