If nothing too surprising happens, the Los Angeles Angels just cemented their place on top of the AL West and the American League by completing a four-game sweep against the Oakland A’s, completing the latest series with a crushing 8-1 win behind another home run for Mike Trout and a great day on the mound for Matt Shoemaker.
On the other side, Scott Kazmir had one of the worst starts imaginable, not even getting out of the second inning. He finished with six earned runs and four walks despite giving up just two hits as he left the game after taking out only four batters. Shoemaker on the other hand pitched for seven innings, allowing just five hits, not walking a single hitter and striking out seven en route to his 14th win of the season.
So what went so wrong in the second inning? Kazmir kept walking players and eventually got himself in a bases loaded situation. After Erick Aybar hit an RBI single, the chains began to move, as walking Gordon Beckham and Kole Calhoun led to two more runs. This was followed by Mike Trout hitting a 2-RBI single and Albert Pujols grounding out to third, allowing another run as the Angels held a 6-0 lead by the end of the inning.
From the way the A’s have been hitting lately, there was no chance of them coming back. Things settled-down pitching wise after Kazmir was taken off, but Trout hit his 31st home run of the season off of Jesse Chavez who provided four innings of relief and Chris Iannetta added another home run to end the day with a slightly humiliating feel to it for the visitors, getting it off of Erik Scribner.
Iannetta and Trout were especially “hot” on the day, as Iannetta got three hits and Trout had three RBIs, closing in on reaching 100 RBIs for the first time in his career. He has already surpassed his career high in home runs by hitting number 31, and with 97 RBIs he’s tied with last year’s production. His batting average has taken a dip this season, falling from .323 last season to .290 this year.
The Angels now hold a five game lead on top of the AL West and are the only team with a better than .600 record in all of Baseball. There are still series against the Marines and A’s that might complicate things, but the way they’ve been hitting and from what they’ve been getting from their best pitchers lately, it’s hard to see them finishing anywhere but first in the American League, finally showing what all the money spent in recent years can do.