It was just a matter of time before the Los Angeles Angels officially clinched the AL West, but it didn’t make the celebrations following their 5-0 win over the Seattle Mariners any less special, spreading excitement of things that might come.
This team hasn’t been to the playoffs since 2009, which was also the last time the Angels won the division. It’s been rough since then, seeing the rise of the Texas Rangers and then the Oakland A’s. It took a lot of money and patience with some under-performing superstars to get the ship back on track, but with a 95-57 record and looking solid at about every aspect on the field, it’s hard to deny that there’s more to this team than just winning the division.
The win over Seattle came a day after getting blasted and losing 13-2, but that was simply denying the inevitable. The Mariners have their own “selfish” concerns to be worried about, fighting to stay alive in the wild card race. Except for that 13-run explosion, they’ve managed to score just 2 runs in the other two games, with one more left to play in this series. C.J. Wilson, giving up just one hit in seven innings while striking out seven batters, took care of the Mariners’ previously hot bats.
This is the sixth division title for Mike Scioscia, all with the Angels, all coming over the last 11 seasons. They’re on pace to win 101 games this season, which will be a franchise record. They managed to clinch the division despite Mike Trout and Albert Pujols going 0-for-8 in the game. The Angels only had six hits, but had one big 7th inning which began with a Howie Kendrick run thanks to an error, a three-run homer from C.J. Cron and capped off with Kole Calhoun hitting a double that scored Collin Cowgill.
It’s been quite the turnaround over the last six weeks after chasing the A’s in the division for so long. Since August 1, the Angels are second in the American League in runs scored, 4th in batting average and OPS. Oakland? They’re now 11.5 games behind the Angels with an offense that isn’t functioning and a wild card spot that might be slipping away. They’re 14th in runs in the AL over the last six weeks, while “producing” a rock bottom batting average and OPS.
Momentum might be the most important thing when postseason success is the subject. The Angels are exploding into the playoffs, holding the best record in Baseball and winning 27 of their last 35 games. Despite not having to worry about home field and the division anymore, letting that kind of thrust fizzle out, even at the risk of a potential injury, isn’t the smartest move for them to make in what’s left of the regular season.