Cover your ears, Texas. It is almost fat lady time.
I'm not saying that it is over, but the proverbial fat lady is warming up backstage, waiting for her queue. After the Angels marched into Arlington and took two of three games from their would be divisional rivals, the AL West is all but wrapped up for our beloved Halos.
The Angels came into the weekend series nursing a 6.5 game lead over Texas and now leave with a 7.5 game lead with just a 13 games left in the season, which basically means that only an epic collapse will keep them from making the post-season. More importantly, the Halos have also passed a major test en route to the post-season by besting the Rangers on their home turn in a season where Texas has had the Angels' number.
Scott Kazmir set the tone for the series by combining with Jason Bulger, Kevin Jepsen and Brian Fuentes to shut out the Rangers on Friday. That win was Kazmir's first as an Angel and a serious blow to the confidence of a Texas team that was already slumping badly at the plate. Even in the Rangers' lone win of the series their offense had less to do with the victory than did their own quality pitching and the inept Angel hitting, highlighted by Howie Kendrick's game-ending double play.
But the death blow to the Texas uprising came on Sunday. Texas had the Angels down and out early, taking an early three-run lead on heretofore untouchable John Lackey. Los Angeles of Anaheim kept trying to come back, but Texas kept holding them off until the Angels finally broke through in the sixth inning. The Rangers finally had LAA right where they wanted them and could kept the AL West lead at a more manageable 5.5 games, but now instead of setting themselves up for an epic four-game set in Anaheim next week, they'll most likely be arriving just in time to catch the Angels AL West clinching celebration.
Don't start celebrating the AL West title just yet, Angels... who am I kidding? Go nuts!
- Wow, a whole series without the Angel bullpen giving up a run. Even Brian Fuentes pulled off his save opportunity with minimal drama.
- The best thing about the Angels having such a nice cushion going into the final two weeks of the season is that they can give some of their regulars some days off. There are a whole lot of tired legs out there right now and some rest would do them good.
- Is that a Mike Napoli hot streak I sense coming just in time for the playoffs? Anytime Nap goes opposite field with the long ball is always a sign of good things to come.
Halo Hero of the Weekend:
- Oh, Howie Kendrick, I just don't know what to make of you. I know you had a bases-loaded double to give the Angels some insurance runs on Sunday, but your GIDP on Saturday cost the team the game. That was the kind of dumb hitting that got you sent down in the first place.
- I think it is time to give Kendry Morales a day off. He hasn't been right all month and finally hit rock bottom Sunday, striking out four times and making what at the time looked like it was going to be an incredibly costly error.
Kaz gave the Angels exactly what they needed with a dominating effort to open the Texas series, taking all the pressure off the Angels' shoulders and placing it squarely on the shoulders of the untested Rangers who clearly weren't ready for it.