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Angels Greatest Week Confirms a Contender

Where were you at 9:54 PM?
Where were you at 9:54 PM?

At 9:50 PM on Thursday, August 18 the Angels were three outs away from being 8 games behind the Texas Rangers and facing a rested Mike Adams.

At 9:54 PM that night, the Angels were 6 games behind the Rangers. Torii Hunter had singled to lead off the bottom of the 9th with the Angels down 1-0 and Mark Trumbo hit a two-run walk-off homerun. It took the centerfield firework operator a few seconds to overcome his own disbelief and confirm the feat. Trumbo was rounding 2B before Terry Smith declared his homerun a fact on the radio. Up in section 538 I turned to MayhemInTheHood and said the first three words of the original Star Wars Trilogy "A New Hope".

And for the record, Trumbo's big hit came on Rally Gnome Bobblehead night.

Prior to Friday's game the unbelievable announcement that Mike Trout might get more playing time and that the Angels' catching situation would be based on getting more offense out of that position shook the team's twittering nerdcore fanbase to the delighted bone. Texas beat the Chicago White Sox on Friday, but we maintained the pace as Dan Haren survived a barrage of hits and Torii Hunter blasted two homeruns.

A disastrous late-inning collapse featuring Jordan Walden blowing his 9th Save and an extra-inning disaster with Fernando Rodney allowing in his inherited baserunners in the bottom of the twelfth inning made the euphoria of the last two days dissipate as it seemed the Angel would not be able to take advantage of Texas losing just their second game of the past six. But the Angels rallied for three runs capped by a Bobby Abreu walk-off Sac Fly and the Angels were five games behind the Rangers 50 hours after almost being eight games back. A silver lining was a serviceable Joel Piñeiro start. The tarnish on the halo was that Scott Downs had pulled his hamstring in the bullpen warming up and would be considered day-to-day in availability.

Sunday afternoon gave Angels fans a shocking treat: A dominant outing by journeyman lifer Jerome Williams pitching in place of a slew of Halo arms that just could not rise to the occasion. Having won the series, the Mike Scioscia philosophy of easing up paid off: The Angels won 7-1 and Texas gave us a game in the standings with another loss. We were back to where we had been the past Monday: four games behind the Rangers despite a disastrous three in a row losing steak to them on Monday and Tuesday and Wednesday. But the Angels' week had begun Thursday night and a few hours after Sunday's game word leaked from Scott Boras mouthpiece John Heyman that Jered Weaver had agreed to a contract extension. It was an unimagined hometown discount. The euphoria of the news, confirmed on Monday, took the sting out of Texas beating the Red Sox in Arlington that evening, adding a half game to their division lead.

Tuesday saw a fan-inclusive press conference stadium press conference confirm Weaver's loyalty to the franchise and the fans. Ervin Santana pitched eight innings but allowed Paul Konerko to tie the game at 4-4 in the 8th. Jordan Walden pitched a solid ninth inning and got the W when the Hot-dog crew of Erick Aybar and Alberto Callaspo had clutch moments enough to let Peter Bourjos collect the glory with a walk-off single. The deficit was trimmed to three and a half games when the Chowdz evened their series against Texas.

And to top it off, it was Rally Monkey Chia Pet night at the stadium. Green Head Fur for October anyone?

Jered Weaver cruised to an easy victory over the White Sox on Wednesday and was removed with an 8-0 lead after 96 pitches through 7 innings because Mike Scioscia had done what he denies he would ever do: he watched the scoreboard. Texas lost to Boston, the deficit was going to be two and a half games and Weaver pitching on three days rest became the worst-kept secret in Anaheim since day you discovered that those were robots and not real pirates on that one ride at the theme park down the street.

As the clock ticked toward the completion of one full week tonight, the news on Downs is that he has improved and can pitch this weekend. Meanwhile, Texas wilted to a Chowd rookie's 3-hitter and the Angels were two games behind the Suburban Dallas Cowgirls as they taxied on the DFW runway.

So... was that a pretty good week or what? From staring an 8-game deficit straight into its eyes to lining up the rotation so that the best arms can go into Arlington and push beyond our current 2-game deficit. The more you ignore us the closer we get.