Overall Record: 92-67 Games Ahead: 8.5 Magic # CLINCHED Week Record: 5-2 Pace: 93-69
Opponents: vs. Tampa Bay (3-0), vs. Seattle (2-2), vs. Texas (0-3)
The Impaler Award: The title of this award would imply that it should go to a hitter, a big-bopper, someone who has taken the team and put it on his shoulders, offensively. But I get to hand out these weekly awards, gosh-darnit, and I am giving this one to “Big Game” John Lackey. In order for this team to win the ALDS “Big Game” John will need to bring it the way he has for the entire month of September in which he pitched 35.2 innings and gave up 11 earned runs. In this week in Review? Lackey threw 15 innings and gave up 3 runs. And when the team was stuck on a magic number of 1, “Big Game” John took the ball and threw 7s. 7 innings, 7 strikeouts. He gets The Impaler Award, and rightfully so.
The I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter Award: Chone Figgins has undoubtedly been the other MVP of this team, but this past week has been anything but dynamic for Figs. As Angel fans we have been so happy with his newfound approach and his ability to walk that we have overlooked the fact that had he gotten in a full season of At-Bats he would have EASILY had triple digit strikeouts…again! And in this past week Figgins has struck out 9 times in 27 plate appearances while only walking twice. While we are hinging our success on Figgins being the “real deal” let’s hope it doesn’t turn out that he was nothing more than a good substitute.
The LL Cool J “Don’t Call it a Comeback” Award: Darren Oliver has been the rock in a suddenly shaky bullpen. This week was no exception. Aside from Tuesday’s meltdown where Oliver gave up 3 runs, one via a balk, he had pitched 4.2 innings of scoreless relief. And beyond this week Oliver has been so good that Mike Scioscia may have no choice but to hand the ball to him in the 7th inning of the upcoming big games. Oliver has been so dominant in the 2nd half he may want to start shopping around for a nice house in Southern California. Don’t be surprised if the Angels bullpen lives and dies with this guy.
Straighten up and Fly Right Award: Garret Anderson has been the wind beneath the Angel’s wings, pun intended. And this past week has been a microcosm of GA’s season: .370, 5 runs scored, 3 RBI, 3 doubles. All of a sudden teams are pitching around Vlad and paying a very deep price as GA has rebounded in the 2nd half to become the proverbial big bat. He gets an award because this guy takes guff from the fans on daily basis as they call in to radio shows asking for him to retire or “hustle” more. Meanwhile, he never complains, he just goes out there and gets it done. I sure like his left-handed bat in Fenway Park next week.
Coming up: The Angels have an off Thursday before concluding the regular season in Oakland. While much could not have been expected of the Angels in Texas there will be reason for concern if the Angels go up against a struggling Oakland team and get tossed around the way they did against the Rangers. This weekend the Angels send their top three in the rotation. On the offensive side the Angels should be looking to get some cohesiveness going by sending out the playoff-bound one through nine. The team should play this series like it matters and get some confidence before hopping on a flight to Boston. The Angels can take solace in the fact that in the last 7 games played against the Sox (4 in Fenway) they have won 4 of those meetings.
Opponents coming up: at Oakland (75-82) September 28-30, At Boston (unless Pigs fly) TBD
Probable Starters: Lackey (18-9) vs. Haren (15-8), Escobar (17-7) vs. Meyer (0-2), Weaver (13-7) vs. Gaudin (11-12)