The Rangers clinched at least a Wild Card berth with their victory Thursday over the Angels, while the Angels are still fighting for their playoff lives. But don’t think for a moment that the Rangers lack any motivation, as they are one more win – or an Astros loss away – from clinching the AL West, and thereby sparing themselves the crapshoot that is the Wild Card.
The Angels and Twins both trail the Astros by one game in the fight for the final spot in the postseason and a date with the Yankees on Tuesday. The Angels play three more against Texas; the Twins face the AL Central champs, the Royals; and the Astros square off with the Diamondbacks.
The Angels' Jered Weaver was pulled from his last start after only 71 pitches, despite giving up only 1 run over 5 innings, admitting afterward that his shoulder was “not comfortable.” It doesn’t take a pitching coach to infer there’s an issue. Weaver has lost a few mph off his fastball, earlier this year missed six weeks with an injured hip, and now has a cranky shoulder, but despite all this he remains slated to take this huge start with a playoff spot in the balance? Go Halos!
Going for the Rangers will be Martin Perez, who was called up in July and was welcomed back to the bigs with three gruesome starts, during which he gave up 15 runs in just 12 innings. Since then he’s improved greatly, going 6-4 with a 3.62 ERA.
It’s been a wild ride for the Angels and Rangers. At one point the Angels nearly played themselves out of contention, losing 26 of 37, and falling from 2 games up to 7 ½ games out of first. But in going 18-8 to start September, they clawed their way back into the Wild Card race. The Rangers at one point found themselves 9 games out of first, but then won 34 of 50 to take a control of the AL West.
And there’s still plenty left to play for.
All stats courtesy Baseball-Reference.com.
Watch the Los Angeles Angels vs. the Texas Rangers at 8:00pm ET Friday on ESPN.