The Los Angeles Angels played the best the AL has to offer with mixed results
By David Rice
In the last 12 games the Los Angeles Angels have played an upcoming San Francisco Giants team and arguably the three best teams in the AL including the defending World Champion Houston Astros.
The results have been less than desired for the Los Angeles Angels as they went 3-9 during this recent stretch which has taken a lot of the luster off a 13-3 start to the 2018 season. Granted those only three of those first 16 games were against playoff teams from 2017.
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So what can we take away from this most recent stretch for the Angels? I think the biggest thing is that the Angels stack up okay against the Beasts of the East and the World Champion Astros, but they are still not quite there yet.
For Angel fans I’m sure it was disappointing watching our Halos get swept by both the hated Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees. I too am frustrated with this especially since both series against the Red Sox and Yankees were at home in Angel Stadium.
The series against the Red Sox was very distressing as the Angels barely put up a fight it seemed getting outscored 27-3 in three games. This weekend’s series against the Yankees was much closer with the exception of Saturday night’s 11-1 drubbing. The Angels could have won either of the bookend games of the series losing both games by a single run. Friday night was especially frustrating since the Angels were two outs away from winning the game when Angel closer Keynan Middleton blew his first save in seven opportunities and the Angels eventually lost in extra innings.
The Angels didn’t play badly against San Francisco either despite losing two of three games from their Northern California rivals. The best part of this stretch was the series against the defending AL West champions and World Champion Houston Astros. The Angels saw Tyler Skaggs outpitch Houston’s Gerritt Cole in the first game of the series and then Shohei Ohtani pitched well enough to leave with a lead in game two and the offense was able to batter Houston pitching for eight runs and the bullpen made it stand up despite giving up a few runs. Although they lost the third game of the series, the message had been sent to the Astros that the Angels were a team to be reckoned with..
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So what the Angels are lacking was very apparent was quality starting pitching. Tyler Skaggs looked good in two of his three starts in this stretch, but he was the only starter to have great success. Shohei Ohtani was not great against the Red Sox lasting only two innings and then made it through five innings against the Astros. Garrett Richards did not look good in his start on Saturday against the Yankees, but pitched really well against the Giants.
The Angels bullpen as a whole was fairly effective in relief of the starters who only had two quality starts in those 12 games. This will not cut it when you play good teams. Tyler Skaggs had the best start going seven innings allowing no runs against the Astros. The offense also could have been much better during the stretch as the Angels only scored over four runs once during the last 12 games.
Mike Trout and Andrelton Simmons were the only Angel starters to thrive during the stretch as they both hit over .300 with Trout going 13 for 39 (.333) during the 12 game stretch and Simmons going 9 for 27 (.333) as well. More players need to step up for the Angels to succeed especially against the league’s elite teams.
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At least the now the Angels know what they have to become in order to compete for a playoff spot and be able to beat the elite teams. Now can the this team do this, I believe the answer is yes, but in time. I think we have only reached the tip of the iceberg with this group. When this team hits its stride they will be fun to watch. Hopefully this happens sooner rather than later.