Angels miss posteason again, aiming for .500
ANAHEIM, Calif. – The Angels knew how this was going to end. It was only a matter of when.
Late Saturday afternoon, less than a half hour before they took the field against the Seattle Mariners, they learned that they were mathematically eliminated from the American League playoff picture.
They knew it was coming. But after beating the Mariners 6-5 at Angel Stadium, they were still left with something worth reaching: a .500 record.
At the beginning of the season, the Angels would have considered .500 a failure. But given the struggles this season, it now rates as a worthy goal.
"It's very important," pitcher Jerome Williams said. "You try and get to .500, you try and finish out the year strong and hopefully carry it over to next year."
At 76-78, the Angels are the closest they've been to .500 since July 10 when they were 44-46. If they win five of their final eight games, they'll at least be able to avoid a losing record, for what it's worth.
Although it has come too late to make much difference in their season, they're approaching the final days on a hot streak. Saturday’s win gave them a 21-7 record since Aug. 23, the best record in baseball over that stretch. They also are unbeaten in their past nine series, winning eight and splitting one.
"Any time you play well for stretches and gain confidence, that's an important experience for your clubhouse to have," manager Mike Scioscia said. "I don't think, if we do finish over .500, it's going to sugarcoat or skew the evaluation process of what we need to do. It’s very clear. The biggest thing that’s fueled this last 30, 35 games has been the pitching side. That needs to continue to move forward."
Williams won his fourth consecutive start, but he was unable to get out of the sixth inning despite holding a 5-1 lead. He issued five walks and threw 106 pitches, the most he's thrown since throwing 107 on May 21.
"I don't think Jerome was commanding the ball the way he can," Scioscia said. "But when push came to shove, he was definitely able to make some pitches."
Pitching is an area the Angels will undoubtedly address in the offseason. C.J. Wilson has 17 wins and Jered Weaver 10 despite missing a month with a broken left arm, but for the most part, others never delivered. Two additions to the rotation, Joe Blanton and Tommy Hanson, pitched poorly and lost their starting jobs.
"The one word that still lingers, that we're trying to massage out of this clubhouse and the way we feel, is frustration," Scioscia said. "We’ve gone a long way in the last month to show the kind of baseball we can play and put together good games, particularly on the pitching side. It's been frustrating."
The only thing that's going to end it is the final game.
But as Scioscia said, that’s when the evaluations begin.