Gosh, this is awkward. The Angels are now officially the best team in baseball. They might also temporarily be the best team in baseball, which is a problem, but a good kind of problem.
For the last few years, the Angels have been playing under the pressure of huge expectations and mostly crumbling underneath them. This year, however, they haven’t had those same expectations, mostly because everyone was expecting them to just go ahead and skip straight to the crumbling part. They haven’t done that, but now is there chance.
It will be curious to see how they react, especially in this series when they have both the best record but also and the AL West lead. Add to that a series in Oakland looming after this one and this series figures to test their mettle quite a bit.
Can they deal with being the top dog?
Can they avoid overlooking Boston?
Can they cope with the growing distraction that is Josh Hamilton‘s personal collapse?
Can they bounce back from blowing their first opportunity to take the AL West lead all by themselves?
LAST TIME ON ANGELS VS. RED SOX…
The Red Sox are really the ones that started this whole “worrying about the Angels” mess. Before, their struggles could be written off to playing other really good teams, but Boston wasn’t good. They still aren’t. Oh, there was also that ridiculous “longest Angels game ever” thing that happened.
GHOST OF ANGELS PAST
Yep, Mike Napoli again. I wasn’t kidding last time when I said it was always going to be Napoli. He is the greatest active Angels ghost ever. The only real positive to him being gone is that we don’t have to be subjected to his bro-tastic beard and tattoos on a daily basis.
MONDAY, 8/18: C.J. Wilson vs. Brandon Workman
Wilson actually has a fair amount of success against Mike Napoli, which is probably why he felt it was cool to give out Napoli’s phone number online a few off-seasons ago. However, he won’t be giving out the phone numbers of Dustin Pedroia or Yoenis Cespedes as those guys have absolutely hammered Wilson in the past.
Workman has faced Angels batters twice. Once was a totally forgettable time in which he retired David Freese. The other time was the walk-off homer he allowed to Albert Pujols to put us all out of our misery in the marathon game.
TUESDAY, 8/19: Jered Weaver vs. Allen Webster
Really, Weaver just shouldn’t be allowed to face Boston. He was pretty iffy back in Anaheim against the BoSox a few weeks ago. The one Boston player he can actually get out is Dustin Pedroia and even he hit Weaver around in that game. Honestly, I’ll consider it a success if Weaver can allow just one homer in this game.
Webster beat the Angels the other week. He wasn’t particularly sharp, but he caught the Angels in what was really the nadir of their offensive struggles, so he ended up looking pretty good. Or at least that is the excuse I choose to believe in.
WEDNESDAY, 8/20: Garrett Richards vs. Clay Buchholz
Lost in the marathon madness was that Richards no-hit the Red Sox for six innings. Hopefully that portends better for Garrett than his individual history against the Red Sox hitters who have universally hammered him in the past.
The other forgotten starting pitcher from the marathon game. The Halos looked like they were going to jump all over Clay early, but he pretty much shut them down after a rough first inning and somehow spun a quality eight innings. He’s having a terrible year, but Buchholz actually has a pretty strong track record against the Halos.
THURSDAY, 8/21: Matt Shoemaker vs. Rubby De La Rosa
Shoemaker only appeared against the Red Sox once, that would be his three perfect innings of relief in the 19-inning game. I’m not sure that should really count since opposing hitters probably could barely hold their bat by that point of the game.
De La Rosa had a great line in his start the other week against the Angels, but that was largely due to the Angels repeatedly shooting themselves in the foot with runners in scoring position. De La Rosa did have eight whiffs in that game, so he wasn’t bad, but he also got a lot of help from the Angel batters.
With Trout and Hamilton struggling and the Oakland series looming, this very much feels like a split and I might even be overly optimistic.
UNOFFICIAL PREDICTION (so don’t hold me to it)
I’ve been a bit off on these of late, so I’m going to play it safe and simply predict that there will NOT be another 19-inning game in this series. Bold, I know.