Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
Forgive Angels manager Mike Scioscia for fielding a Triple-A caliber team last night. Los Angeles’ first division title since 2009 was more than enough reason to rest everyday starters and give Jered Weaver two extra days rest.
Still, for a group that doesn’t see very much playing time they held their own against “King” Felix Hernandez Thursday night. Wade LeBlanc matched the Cy Young winner pitch-for-pitch, shutting out Seattle through 5 1/3 innings before getting pulled after just 72 pitches. Were it not for Logan Morrison’s decisive three-run homer in the ninth, the Angels may have pulled off a colossal upset.
The celebration is over, as is a four-game series with the Mariners. The Halos turn their attention to Texas, the last homestand of the season, and keeping home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
Baltimore trails Los Angeles by 2 ½ games for the league’s best mark. That alone should motivate Mike Trout and the Angels’ offense to keep their foot on the pedal. Extending their lead isn’t much of a stretch; the Rangers have lost 13 of 16 meeting between the two, including a three-game sweep at Angel Stadium from June 20-22.
For all the talk about Hector Santiago’s atrocious first half, just as much should be said about his stellar play since the All-Star break.
The southpaw is 4-1 with a 2.45 ERA since July 18 and hasn’t lost a decision since June 15. Walks are still an issue-he’s averaging 2.5 over eight outings-but working in-and-out of trouble is becoming less of a concern. Santiago is limiting hitters to a .191 batting average with two out and runners in scoring position.
Last Sunday’s outing with Houston was Santiago’s shortest start since May 7. He yielded three runs on five hits while walking a season-high five. Santiago is 1-2 with a 5.03 ERA in nine appearances against the Mariners. He lost back-to-back outing to begin the season, but notched a win in relief on July 18.
Lisalverto Bonilla will be making his second-career Major League start after giving up two runs over six innings against Atlanta last Saturday. The young right-hander landed in Arlington as part of a trade that sent Michael Young to Philadelphia in 2012.
- The Angels have outscored Texas 94-62 in the season series.
- Adrian Beltre is hitting .429 with three solo home runs against Santiago.
- Josh Hamilton missed Wednesday night’s celebration with pains in his chest and ribs that may keep him off the playoff roster.
TV: 7:05 p.m. PT, Fox Sports West, TXA-21, MLB Network
Radio: KLAA 830, 103.3 ESPN