Mathematically, the Angels still have a chance. Realistically, they have no illusions about the difficulty of advancing to the playoffs with only a handful of games left.
But there’s still life, if only just a little. If they play as well as they did Friday night in Arlington, Texas, they’ll have no reason to mourn their finish should they fall short.
They’re running out of time, of course. But they’re doing what they have to do – win. The rest is fate.
With no scoreboard to watch – the Oakland A’s game against the Seattle Mariners began two hours later than the Angels-Rangers game – the Angels rolled to a 7-4 win that allowed them to retain their flickering hope.
Jered Weaver won his 20th game, becoming the first pitcher in the American League to do so, and Mark Trumbo had his first three-hit game since July 15. Mike Trout collected his 173rd hit to set a team rookie record. All good reasons to celebrate.
But the Angels’ only focus is on the second wild card in the AL. They have five regular-season games left – two more against the Rangers and three against the Mariners in Seattle – but every day brings them closer to the brink.
It will help their run, assuming they stay hot, if Trumbo continues producing as he did Friday night. He had run-scoring doubles in the fourth and sixth innings and drove in a third run with a single in the seventh.
The doubles were his first since July 17. He hadn’t had a more than one extra-base hit in a game since June 28.
“I wasn’t sure if anyone had noticed that I hadn’t gotten a double in quite a while,” he told FOX Sports West after the game.
Trumbo’s offensive slump has lasted the better part of the season. He entered the game hitting just .168, with 71 strikeouts, over his previous 44 games, despite a career-high 31 home runs.
“I’ve kind of gone through three different swings (this season),” he said. “This is one I used the majority of last year and part of this year. I’ve been searching for it for a while. It couldn’t have come at a better time.”
Weaver made himself a clear frontrunner for the Cy Young Award with a seven-inning, two-run performance that made him the Angels’ first 20-game winner since Bartolo Colon in 2005. Colon won the Cy Young that season, but Weaver faces a formidable group of contenders, including David Price of Tampa Bay and Justin Verlander of Detroit.
But as Weaver said this week, he’s not concerned about awards. “I just want a ring,” he said.
Unless the Angels run into a lot of luck, he may have to settle for the Cy Young. In the meantime, they’re doing their best to stay in wild-card contention.