After taking Monday off, the Angels face the Minnesota Twins, winners of five games in a row, in a three-game set starting Tuesday (at 6:30 p.m. on FOX Sports West) at Angel Stadium. Then it’s back on the road: three at Kansas City and three more at Chicago against the White Sox. The Royals and Sox are both riding four-game losing streaks.
The week behind
The Angels had a strong finish to the week, sweeping a three-game series against the Texas Rangers, their first home sweep of Texas since April 2007. They’re also 4-2 this season against the Rangers after going 4-15 last season. The Angels opened the week by losing two of three at Cleveland. One game against the Indians, postponed by rain, has been rescheduled for Sept. 8, forcing the Angels to fly from Minneapolis to Cleveland to Arlington, Texas, in a three-day period.
Record and standings
Although they won four of six games last week, the Angels lost a half game in the American League West standings to the Oakland A’s. Their 41-33 record has them five games behind the A’s, but here’s the positive news: They lead the wild-card standings ahead of Baltimore. It’s likely the wild card will be their best route to the postseason.
Right-handed pitcher Matt Shoemaker started the season in the bullpen and endured a demotion to the minors, but his resurgence this season is remarkable. Since joining the rotation in May, Shoemaker is 5-0 as a starter and has walked just three batters in his past 30 innings. At 27 years old, he has earned his way to the big leagues.
The Angels’ success this season will probably rise or fall with the bullpen. So far, the results have been mixed. Overall, the team’s ERA of 3.83 ranks fifth in the AL, but the relievers’ ERA is 4.49 (12th), and they’ve given up 28 home runs, more than every team in the league but the Tampa Bay Rays. Ernesto Frieri has struggled as a closer, so manager Mike Scioscia is having to mix and match.
Player to watch
The player who benefited most from the Angels’ release of Raul Ibanez last week was C.J. Cron, whose at-bats were limited. Cron now will see continued play at designated hitter. It’s worth noting that he hit three home runs in three games against the Rangers and is hitting .286 with six homers and 18 RBI in 112 at-bats.
Center fielder Mike Trout figures to hit the All-Star break on a hot streak. The kid has recorded a hit in 25 of his past 28 games and has reached base safely in 37 of 39 games. He’s hitting .344 this month after hitting .263 in May.
"He may be 10 miles an hour short, but he goes out with that attitude, with that makeup. He goes out with the idea of a gunslinger." – Manager Mike Scioscia, speaking about pitcher Matt Shoemaker, who Scioscia says pitches as if he’s Nolan Ryan.