The Los Angeles Angels completed a 4-2 road trip against two NL Central teams. They lost two of three in Milwaukee but came out of that series feeling good with Jose Suarez pitching well. They then took that momentum into St. Louis, where the Angels swept the struggling Cardinals.
The Halos completed their first sweep of the season (they have not been swept) and have won four in a row for the first time this season. The team is now 18-14, a season-high four games above .500, and just one game back of the Rangers for first place in the AL West.
It's too early in the season to really care about the standings, we saw how quickly things can fall apart last season, but the Angels are playing their best baseball of the season which is important seeing who's next on the schedule.
LA Angels sweeping Cardinals is great, but upcoming homestand is real test
The Angels had several bright spots in St. Louis. Taylor Ward looked like the Taylor Ward of old, piling up six hits including a home run. Luis Rengifo played his best game in the finale, and the bullpen (not you, Aaron Loup) was great all series long (and really has been for a while now).
Sweeping a series is always good, but the Cardinals, even as dangerous as they can be, are an absolute mess right now. The Angels caught them at the right time. The competition the Angels are about to face is a whole lot steeper, starting with the Texas Rangers.
The Rangers lead the AL West with an 18-12 record. Their offense led by players like Nathaniel Lowe, Adolis Garcia, Marcus Semien, Jonah Heim, and Josh Jung is third in the league in runs scored. That's with Corey Seager being limited to just 11 games this season.
The Rangers rotation is also quite good, with pitchers like Nathan Eovaldi and Martin Perez scheduled to face the Halos this weekend. The Angels will miss Jacob deGrom who's on the Injured List. Even with their injuries, the Rangers have played well all year and will not be an easy team to face.
The team that comes in after Texas is another team that plays in the Lone Star State, the Houston Astros. The defending champs have gotten off to a slow start this season but are always a team to fear.
The Astros have their own injuries with guys like Jose Altuve, Chas McCormick, Michael Brantley, Lance McCullers Jr., Luis Garcia, and Jose Urquidy all on the Injured List.
The Angels, despite their own injuries, are the healthiest of these teams. For them to get back to the postseason, they have to show they can play well against good teams too, not just teams that are 10-22 like St. Louis. A 3-3 homestand should be the worst-case scenario, but I expect better.