Angels hunting for final wild card spot
ANAHEIM, CA -- Angels manager Mike Scioscia talked before Tuesday's 11-3 win over the Texas Rangers about scoreboard watching. Surprisingly, the ferociously close-to-the-vest Scioscia admitted that he definitely keeps his eyes on the out-of-town scoreboard.
"Yes, because we're at the point of the season where we might need some help from other teams to get where we want to be," Scioscia said. "It's definitely becoming a factor as we're coming down to the last dozen or so games. But we have to control what we can control -- and that's how we play on the field. And that's the way we're going to go about it.
"We've struggled at times during the season, no doubt. But the last 30 games we've played up to our potential and hopefully there's enough time for us to reach out goal."
The Halos, who picked up a game to move within 3.5 games of Oakland for the first Wild Card spot, were in near complete control as Jered Weaver improved his record to 18-4, allowing just a pair of third-inning homers to Mike Napoli and Ian Kinsler to blemish a great start. Weaver saw his ERA dip to 2.79 and his WHIP dropped to an even 1.00. With the victory -- No. 100 in Jered's career -- he tied Tampa Bay's David Price for the 2012 league lead in wins. Chris Iannetta said that Weaver's ability to get ahead in the count was key in the win.
"He did a great job of that," said the Angels' catcher. "He had a couple of mistakes early, but other than that he settled down and pitched his normal game.
"He was awesome."
Weaver was more than happy to spread out the credit for the win among his teammates.
"Chris called a great game," said Weaver, who joined Chuck Finley, Nolan Ryan, Mike Witt, John Lackey and Frank Tanana as the sixth pitcher in Angel history to get 100 career victories. "Our defense played well behind me, and (the Rangers) hit some balls right to our guys and we were able to get some double plays out of it. They came back and gave me a cushion after I gave up that three-spot and it lifted my confidence right back up.
"Hopefully we can keep it rolling and take a coupe more from these guys."
As good as Weaver was, though, it was the Angels offense -- without Albert Pujols -- that was the star of the show. They sent 12 batters to the plate and scored eight runs in the fourth inning, a season high at home.
Pujols -- who has seven career home runs against Texas starter and loser Ryan Dempster (6-2) -- is in St. Louis with his wife after she gave birth to the couple's fifth child. He'll be back in the lineup Thursday, but his absence gave Vernon Wells another chance to start. The much-maligned outfielder responded with two hits in four at bats, one RBI and a run scored. Iannetta drove in two runs in that fourth inning, joined by Kendrys Morales, Howie Kendrick and Wells, each driving in a run. Torii Hunter, Erick Aybar and Maicer Izturis also each had an RBI.
The Halos have now won 18 of 25 -- 15 of their last 20 -- and Wells said that they might have to play at an even better clip to earn a trip to the postseason.
"We don't really have much choice," Wells said. "Every game is crucial and we have to go out and try to win them all. We've known since spring training how talented this team is, and we've shown it at times. But it's good to be coming together at the right time, with the pressure on us."
Wednesday night's game will pit C.J. Wilson, 12-9, against 10-6 Derek Holland of the Rangers. Wilson, who helped lead Texas to World Series the past two seasons, says he has nothing to prove against his former team.
"Just winning. That's what the focus is," the lefthander said. "It really doesn't matter who we play, we just have to beat them. We're in a situation where we're on the outside looking in, so we have to win our way in. The two teams we're chasing for the Wild Card don't play us anymore, so we don't have any direct influence on it. We just have to hope some of these other teams play better against them, and we continue to do our thing."