As difficult as Sunday’s series-ending 5-3 loss to the Houston Astros was for the Los Angeles Angels, if they want to stay in the AL West the team must dust themselves off and prepare for a crucial 10-game road trip to Seattle, Minnesota, and Houston. Two of the three teams the Los Angeles Angels will play are ahead of them in the standings, Minnesota in the wild-card race and the Houston Astros in the AL West race. However, even the three-game series against the Seattle Mariners is crucial for the Angels as they must win every game they can in hopes of securing a playoff spot (wild-card or division champions). What makes the Mariners series even more important is a two-fold reason. First of all the Angels need to bounce back after Sunday’s tough loss. The more important reason is the fact that while the Angels are playing Seattle, Texas and Houston who the Angels are chasing, are battling each other in Arlington which means the Angels have a chance to gain ground on one of their division foes every night. At this moment the Angels trail Houston by 4.5 games and Texas by three games. If the Angels can catch either team they will most likely qualify for the playoffs.
After the series with Seattle, the Angels travel to Minnesota to play a 4-game series with the Twins who the Angels also trail in the wild-card race by two games. So just as the Seattle series is important, the series against the Twins is even more important. The Angels took two out three games from the Twins in July and have won 6 of 9 games from the Mariners this season as well taking all three series from Seattle. Finally if those two series weren’t important enough the Angels will get one last crack at Houston in a three-game series from September 21st-23rd. The last time the Angels were in Houston they were swept which started an 0-6 road trip that dropped the team out of first place in early August, a spot they have not been able to regain since. Overall this season the Angels are 7-9 against the Astros winning 2 of 5 series against the AL West leaders.
The next 10 games might well determine the Los Angeles Angels playoff fate. A 7-3 road trip or better is probably needed to keep the Angels hopes of making a second consecutive playoff appearance alive. The Angels will need to continue to get strong starting pitching and hope that their bullpen can come through when needed. However, what is more important is that Mike Trout and Albert Pujols can break out of a six-week funk where both players have struggled to hit for consistent power and have seen their batting averages drop over 20 points a piece. Both have been battling nagging injuries with Pujols being more severe with a foot injury that has relegated him to the DH slot. Trout sprained his wrist back in August and went 27 games without hitting a home run before connecting last Sunday against Texas and then again today against Houston. If even one of the Los Angeles Angels dynamic duo can get hot it will go a long way in jump starting an offense that despite winning 7 of their last 11 games has still been struggling to score runs, instead winning with strong starting pitching.
Let’s hope the Angels can recapture some of that mid-season magic down the stretch which saw the team win 18 of 21 games in the end of June and first three and a half weeks of July. Only time will tell. Fasten your seat belt and hold on tight it’s rally time!!!
The Los Angeles Angels may need some help from the rally monkey to make the 2015 post-season Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports