Mandatory Credit: Jim Cowsert-USA TODAY Sports
The number nine is of great significance to the Los Angeles Angels heading into their series finale with Texas Thursday night.
Nine games separate Los Angeles from second-place Oakland. The Halos suffered their last loss nine days ago, riling off seven straight wins since. Mike Trout, who carries a .336 batting average at Globe Life Park despite going 0-for-3 last night, has nine home runs in 31 career games in Arlington.
Most importantly, nine is the Angels’ magic number to clinch their first AL West title since 2009.
Arte Moreno’s ad hoc squad all but assured itself a playoff spot. And there’s still over two weeks left in the 2014 season. They’re plowed through a 10-game road trip without two starting pitchers and Josh Hamilton’s services. For what it’s worth, the Angels are averaging 9.6 runs per game since Hamilton injured his shoulder.
Matt Shoemaker’s performance in a 9-3 win Wednesday night put to rest any consternation over a mediocre outing in Minnesota last week. The right-hander stifled Rangers’ hitter through 6 2/3 innings in earning his 15th win of the season and setting the franchise record for victories as a rookie.
Regardless of tonight’s outcome, the Halos are primed for a playoff run. With any luck, they claim the division title on the upcoming homestand.
The Angels don’t expect too much from Cory Rasmus. He’s lifelong reliever who’s backed into a role in the starting rotation after spending a majority of April and May in Triple-A Salt Lake before finding consistent playing time throughout the summer.
The righty has only allowed two runs in 4 2/3 innings as a starter. He struck out six Athletics over three innings Aug. 30 before stumbling through last Saturday’s outing in Minnesota, yielding two runs and three before getting pulled in the second.
Rasmus is looking for his first career win as a starter in making his first-ever start at Globe Life Park. He’s limited Texas to one run through 3 1/3 relief innings over the last two years.
Rangers rookie Nick Martinez likely doesn’t want any piece of the Angels. He’s gone 0-1 with a 4.15 ERA over two starts against Los Angeles and hasn’t notched a win in Arlington this season.
Martinez limited Seattle to two runs over six innings last Saturday but didn’t factor into the decision, thanks in large part to the Mariners’ eighth-inning rally.
- Last night, Albert Pujols legged out his first triple since 2010.
- Trout is one of six players with three 100-run campaigns before his age23 season.
- Martinez is winless in nine appearance- seven starts- at Globe Life Park.
TV: 5:05 p.m. PT, Fox Sports West, Fox Sports Southwest
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