Starting Tuesday (and all week on FOX Sports West), the Angels face three opponents with playoff aspirations: Baltimore, which leads the American League East; Tampa Bay, which still has hopes of a wild card; and the Dodgers, who figure to go down to the wire with San Francisco in the National League West. The Angels lost two of three to the Orioles last week but took three of four from the Rays in May.
The week behind
The Angels wobbled a bit before finishing strong. They dropped two in a row at home to the Orioles — their first two-game losing streak since June 15-16 — but recovered to take thee of four from the Tigers. It left them with a 6-5 homestand, and Sunday’s 2-1 victory over Detroit represented their major-league-leading 33rd come-from-behind win and 19th win in their last at-bat.
Record and standings
The Angels are currently a season-high 22 games over .500, but at 63-41, they remain two-games behind AL West-leading Oakland. In fact, since the All-Star break, the Angels have actually lost a half-game in the standings to the A’s, who are 6-3 since play resumed. Over that same span, the Angels are 6-4.
Once a liability, Angels’ bullpen becomes strength
The Angels’ bullpen has been nothing short of spectacular since the addition of Jason Grilli, Joe Thatcher and closer Huston Street. The team’s relief group has a 2.45 ERA in 35 games since June 16, and Street and Joe Smith have been unhittable: Street is 3 for 3 in saves and has pitched four scoreless innings, and Smith has allowed just one earned run in his past 20 appearances (19 1/3 innings).
Left fielder Josh Hamilton had to be embarrassed by his lack of effort after striking out in the second inning Sunday against the Tigers. Rick Porcello’s pitch got away from catcher Bryan Holaday, but rather than run to first base, Hamilton walked slowly back to the dugout, turning back briefly. That’s the kind of mental lapse that makes managers grind their teeth.
Player to watch
Left-hander C.J. Wilson, out with a sprained right ankle, is scheduled to make a rehab start Monday night at Double-A Arkansas. If he’s fine, he could be activated this week. The Angels are less concerned about Wilson’s ankle than they are his confidence, which has taken a beating in his past four ineffective starts. His appearance in Double-A will bear watching.
Hector Santiago making a difference through Santiago’s Soldiers.
Manager Mike Scioscia is admittedly concerned about his team’s slumping offense. In 10 games since the All-Star break, the Angels are hitting .202 (17 for 84) with runners in scoring position. Overall, they’re batting .230 since the break and have scored just 30 runs.
"I’ve taken some wonderful hacks the last three games or so — just terrible swings." — Third baseman David Freese, after hitting a tie-breaking homer in the eighth inning Sunday that gave the Angels a 2-1 victory over the Tigers.