With Some Luck, Angels Can Clinch AL West Tonight

By Jose Serrano

Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

Few question which American League bullpens have flourished since the All-Star break. Los Angeles Angels’ relievers carried 1.69 ERA in July and 2.64 ERA in August, respectively, while Seattle arrived in Anaheim sporting the Majors’ best team mark (3.02) behind their bullpen’s stellar 2.36 ERA.

Both teams’ otherwise stalwart pitching staffs have been exposed during this week’s four-game set. The Mariners gave up eight runs Monday before pummeling Angels’ pitching for 13 last night, the most allowed since May 4.

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  • Cory Rasmus tossed four solid innings before Jason Grilli and Fernando Salas imploded for nine earned runs between the fifth and sixth innings. By the time Michael Roth gave up three runs over the last three frames, Seattle had already assured itself of a one-game deficit in the wild card standings.

    The Angels, meanwhile, have to wait another day to celebrate a potential division title. Having already secured a playoff spot, a victory coupled with an Oakland loss gives the Halos their first AL West crown since 2009.

    Pitching Matchup C.J. Wilson (12-9, 4.61 ERA) vs. James Paxton (6-2, 1.83 ERA)

    There’s a reason C.J. Wilson is on pace for career-worst rankings in ERA and walks. Hitters aren’t just being patient around the left-hander; they’re letting Wilson dig his own grave.

    Since July 9, Wilson has walked fewer than three batters on three occasions. That spans 10 outings. He’s benefited from the Angels’ offensive explosion to win back-to-back decisions despite a 4.05 ERA and 1.62 WHIP since a Sept. 7 start in Minnesota.

    Wilson needed 108 to record 15 outs against Houston last Friday. A similar spurt tonight gives a worn out bullpen an unnecessary workload.

    Rookie southpaw James Paxton is 9-2 with a 1.73 ERA this season. He’s on pace to become the third pitcher in Major League history to win 10 of his first 15 decisions with a sub-2.00 earned run average.

    Paxton’s first two victories this season came against the Angels. He’s scattered six hits and three runs over 12 innings. An April 8 start against Los Angeles was the only time Paxton has yielded more than three earned runs in an outing.

    Walk offs:

    1. Wilson is the Angels’ candidate for MLB’s Roberto Clemente Award.
    2. The Angels can set a franchise record by maintaining their .624 winning percentage.
    3. Josh Hamilton went 1-for-3 last night after missing 10 games with a sore shoulder.

    TV: 7:05 p.m. PT, Fox Sports West, ROOT Sports, ESPN

    Radio: KLAA 830, 710 ESPN (Seattle)