Angels OF Mike Trout may have just locked up ESPN’s Web Gem of the year. I mean, did you see that catch?
Simply terrific stuff from the MVP.
(h/t to Halo Heaven for the vine)
Jered Weaver/Photo courtesy of Los Angels Angels
– The Angels have done a nice job of playing themselves back into the playoff picture as they enter their three-game series Monday at Houston 2 1/2 games behind the Astros for the second of two American League wild-card spots. But the Angels, who are four games behind the first-place Texas Rangers in the AL West, will be on the outside looking in if they get swept in this series. That would put them 5 1/2 behind Houston with just 10
games to play. Also, keep in mind that the Angels have Minnesota and Cleveland to deal with in the wild-card race as the Twins are tied with the Angels and the Indians are just 1 1/2 games behind those two.
– The first game of this series would seem a pitching mismatch favoring the Astros. The Angels will send Jered Weaver (7-11, 4.74 ERA) against the Astros’ Dallas Keuchel (17-8, 2.56). Weaver was ejected in the fifth inning of his most recent start for plunking Kyle Seager of the Seattle Mariners after the two had exchanged words during the at-bat Wednesday in Seattle. Weaver is having his worst season in 10. Keuchel is a Cy Young
Award candidate, but he was hammered for nine earned runs in 4 2/3 innings of a 13-4 loss at Texas on Wednesday.
– This would be a great time for Albert Pujols to start hitting again. That could be a lot to ask because he is suffering from a sore right foot that has been causing him a lot of pain and discomfort. Not able to play his position at first base, Pujols has nevertheless been toughing it out as designated hitter. Unfortunately for the Angels, he has gone in the tank at the plate, batting just .152 this month with one home run and nine RBIs.
– Mike Trout is another one. After batting just .218 in August with one home run and seven RBIs, he has improved this month. In September he’s batting .258 with six home runs and 11 RBIs. But keep in mind that two of those home runs and five of the RBIs came in one game. In other words, Trout is still not doing what the reigning MVP should be doing for his team down the stretch of a playoff race. Trout’s other numbers this month are good – .385 on-base, .613 slugging and .998 OPS. But he has to drive in runs on a more consistent basis over these final 13 games, and he has to hit better than .258. Here’s the difference: Trout hit .320 in June with eight home runs and 16 RBIs and .367 in July with 12 home runs and 24 RBIs.
– Bottom line is, the Angels are going to need some clutch pitching performances in this series. Hector Santiago (8-9, 3.47) goes against Lance McCullers (5-6, 3.18) of the Astros on Tuesday and the Angels’ Nick Tropeano (2-2, 5.06) squares off with Mike Fiers (7-10, 3.64) on Wednesday. Santiago has had a poor second half. Santiago had an ERA of 2.30 on July 20 and was selected as a replacement on the All-Star team. He is
coming off an outing Thursday in Minnesota that saw him give up five earned runs in two-thirds of an inning. He has one victory since July 20.
David Murphy hit a 3-run home run in Tuesday’s victory at Seattle/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Angels
– With time winding down and the Angels’ playoff chances getting slimmer and slimmer as each day passes, this was one of the team’s biggest wins of the year. With 18 games to play, the Angels are four games behind the new first-place team in the AL West – the Texas Rangers. The Angels are 3 1/2 games back of Houston, which currently holds the second wild-card spot. There is another team in the mix, and that’s the Minnesota Twins.
They are two games ahead of the Angels in the wild-card race and just 1 1/2 back of Houston. The Angels have four games left with the Twins, three with Houston and four with Texas.
– Mike Trout hit a home run. It was his third this month after he hit just one in all of August. Trout now has tied his career-high with 36 home runs. He has 78 RBIs, but won’t come close to reaching his career-high of 111 set in 2014. Unless he goes on a binge down the stretch, he likely won’t reach 100.
– Albert Pujols, with his sore right foot, is struggling mightily. He went 0-for-4 and his batting average is down to .243. His on-base-percentage is down to .304. He is batting just .174 this month with a home run and seven RBIs.
– David Murphy hit a 3-run home run in this game. Of the three outfielders the Angels acquired before the non-waiver trade deadline – Murphy, Shane Victorino and David DeJesus – Murphy is the only one making any real noise. He is batting .263 for the Angels with four home runs and 14 RBIs in 114 at-bats. Victorino is batting .194 in 62 at-bats, DeJesus .115 in 52 at-bats.
– Catcher Carlos Perez had three hits and is batting .333 (10-for-30) this month – but with only one RBI. His season average is up to .233 and he’s getting more starts that Chris Iannetta, who is batting just .180.
Mike Trout hit his 35th home run in Sunday’s loss/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Angels
– Losses don’t come much more difficult than this one. When you’re up 3-0 with two outs in the ninth inning and your closer has gotten the first two batters and has two strikes on the third and then you lose, one has to wonder if perhaps this just is not the Angels’ year. A win would have pulled them with 2 1/2 games of the first-place Astros in the AL West and kept them within two of the Rangers in the race for the second wild-card spot. Instead, they are 4 1/2 behind the Astros and three behind the Rangers with only 20 games left in the regular season.
– To further enhance this notion that 2015 may not be the year of the Angels, consider that one of the hits in that five-run Houston ninth inning was a rocket of a grounder hit to Taylor Featherston. It was hit so hard by Carlos Correa that the ball stuck in Featherston’s glove. If it doesn’t, he throws out Correa easily and the Angels would have won 3-2. Furthermore, the 3-run home run by pinch-hitter Jed Lowrie was nearly caught by Kole Calhoun, who couldn’t quite get to the ball as it made its way just into the stands near the right-field foul pole.
– Now the question is, can the Angels come back from such a tough loss? Sure, they won the series from the Astros, taking two out of three. But when you have a victory in the bag and let it slip away, creating a two-game swing in the standings, even the toughest ballplayers could have difficulty with that. The Angels begin a 10-game road trip Monday night in Seattle. It will be interesting to see how they play.
– It was a shame to lose a game in which C.J. Cron hit two more home runs and Mike Trout hit one. It was No. 35 for Trout, meaning Trout and Albert Pujols became only the second Angels duo to hit at least 35 home runs in the same season. Mo Vaughn, Garrett Anderson and Troy Glaus had at least 35 in 2000.
– Andrew Heaney pitched OK, but he wasn’t great. He lasted just five innings and even though he did not allow a run, he allowed nine baserunners – six via hits, two via walks and he hit a batter. He made good pitches to get out of jams, but he would help the team even more if he could go deeper into games. It was Heaney’s second consecutive outing in which he went just five innings and he is averaging just a hair under six innings per start on the season. Four of his six starts in August were 5 1/3, 5 2/3, 5 2/3 and 3 1/3 innings. Considering Heaney had four consecutive starts of at least seven innings from June 30 to July 20, one has to wonder if Heaney – a rookie – is starting to feel the fatigue of a long season that for him began in the minors. He has gone seven innings in just one of his past 10 starts. Heaney is 7-3 with an ERA of 3.32. Nothing wrong with that, on the surface.