LA Angels News

LA Angels keep fighting despite being out of playoff contention

By David Rice
OAKLAND, CA - SEPTEMBER 18: Kaleb Cowart #22 of the Los Angeles Angels hits a grand slam home run in the sixth inning against the Oakland Athletics at Oakland Alameda Coliseum on September 18, 2018 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
OAKLAND, CA - SEPTEMBER 18: Kaleb Cowart #22 of the Los Angeles Angels hits a grand slam home run in the sixth inning against the Oakland Athletics at Oakland Alameda Coliseum on September 18, 2018 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /
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The LA Angels were officially eliminated from the playoff race late last week, but for the most part they have not been in serious contention since mid-July.  However, the team has not stopped competiting.

The Angels sat six games under 500 just over two weeks ago and the team had already lost Albert Pujols, and Zack Cozart, and traded starting catcher Martin Maldonado away to Houston.  The Angels could have easily said screw it and just went through the motions, however that is not the case.

Instead the Angels have kept going out every day and giving it everything they have and the results have been promising.  The Angels are 9-4 since then and are now only one game under .500.  If they continue to play well they could finish the season over .500 for the first since 2015.

The reason for this has been a mixture of youth and veterans as well as a recently acquired closer.  Jose Miguel Fernandez, David Fletcher, Taylor Ward, and Francisco Arcia as well as current closer Ty Buttery have stepped up and made a difference. The resurgence of Andrew Heaney and the return of Matt Shoemaker have also helped as well as the emergence of Felix Pena that have helped solidify the starting rotation.  The bullpen has also pitched much better including combining for a nine inning 1-0 victory in what was called a bullpen game just over a week ago.

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Will this trend continue will depend on the play of veterans such as Andrelton Simmons, Mike Trout, and Justin Upton as welll as Kole Calhoun.  The pitching staff also needs to remain strong especially the starting rotation that saw the return of season ace Tyler Skaggs yesterday in Oakland.

Last night was a perfect example of the team’s resiliency.  After falling behind 4-1 after four innings against the playoff-bound Oakland A’s.  However in the sixth inning after being held to just two hits and one run in the first five innings, the Angels erupted. The Angels loaded the bases with one out.  Andrelton Simmons then delivered a two-run single to cut the A’s lead to 4-3.

After Taylor Ward was hit by a pitch to again load the bases Kaleb Cowart who has struggled mightily this season stepped to the plate with a .123 but bases full of Angels.  Lou Trivino, who came into the game with a 2.14 ERA this season relieved Ryan Buchter and his 1-0 pitch was belted to right field by Cowart and it sailed over the out-of-town scoreboard for his first grand slam of his career and the Angels first grand slam of the season giving the Halos a 7-4 advantage.

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The Angels tacked on two more runs on a Taylor suicide squeeze and a Cowart RBI-triple for a 9-4 lead.  Ty Buttery got out of a bases-loaded one-out jam allowing only a two-run single and pitched a perfect ninth to pick up his fourth save of the season preserving a 9-7 Angels victory.

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While finishing strong does not get you anything more than a pat on the back it shows that this team stills has a lot of fight.  Hopefully this will carry over into next season.

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