During today's off-day you need to; 1) Go outside and get some air, 2) Spend time with a beautiful dark-haired woman, 3) Re-live some past glory while watching old music videos, and 4) Read your Halolinks:
- Today's first link leads to our friend Rob Neyer. Mr. Neyer is making progress in how he interprets the Angels' name, as today's jumble is "Anaheim's Los Angeles Angels". Close, buddy. Very close: Angels Sweep A's, Move Up In Wild-Card Standings - Baseball Nation. "The A's are still in the thick of the Wild Card chase, but now the long list of their serious competitors definitely includes the Angels."
- How does a team get themselves back into playoff contention? By completely dominating one of the teams in front of them: Angels complete three-game sweep of A's with 7-1 win Wednesday - Yahoo! Sports. "The Angels not only beat but dominated a team that had won nine straight and trailed only seven innings during the streak. Against Los Angeles, Oakland never led and got outscored 21-5 in the three games." The offense has basically done its job this season, but the one big inconsistency was the pitching. Seems like the club has pulled it together just in the nick of time: Los Angeles Angels at Oakland Athletics - September 5, 2012 - MLB.com. "But the spark of this recent turnaround has been the pitching staff, which posted a Major League-worst 5.59 ERA over a 42-game stretch that began July 3 -- a stretch in which the Angels went 17-25 -- but has a 2.98 ERA over this surging 15-game span." One of the reasons for their rebound is Dan Haren's turnaround, "Haren, coming off a start against the Mariners that was probably his best in three months, scattered three hits, walked three, struck out seven and retired the last seven in order. He's now 4-2 with a 3.50 ERA since the All-Star break, and has given up one earned run in 13 innings over his past two starts." The only small uncharacteristic part of Haren's performance were the three walks. Three walks usually isn't a big deal for a starter who goes six innings, but Haren's has shown in the past that his control and his ability to keep runners off base is the key to his game.
- Oh, snap!: Angels 7, Athletics 1 - FOX Sports. "''They came in, they pitched well, they got some timely hits and won some games,'' A's second baseman Cliff Pennington said. ''Same thing we've been doing for a while.'' Just not in this series." The A's come to town next week, hopefully this 3-game sweep has gotten in their head.
- I'll admit it, the Halos have got me hooked again and believing they're going to make the playoffs. What the hell, I'm a fan. Angels sweep A's, have reason to believe again. "We believe in ourselves," reliever Ernesto Frieri told FOX Sports West after a 7-1 win over the A's on Wednesday. "We know we're going to make it." If they know they're going to make it, who am I to disagree?
- Within this link is a quote from Torii Hunter about Brandon McCarthy's ball to the noggin: "I know Brandon really well," Hunter said. "We work out together in Texas. When it happened, it deflated both teams. No matter what, we're competitors, but at the same time we respect what each other does on the field. You could see how the momentum just went out of both of us." The sound of Erick Aybar's line drive that smacked McCarthy above the right ear was sickening, and the look on McCarthy's face as he went down was frightening. There was definitely a point where the lights were on, but nobody was home. Brandon McCarthy conscious and well after taking liner to head - MLB.com. "In a release sent out around 6 p.m. PT, the A's said McCarthy "is conscious and doing well." He'll stay in a nearby hospital overnight for further observation and will not accompany the A's on their charter flight to Seattle on Thursday." Glad to hear he's doing okay. For you sick folks, here's the Deadspin version of the video: Brandon McCarthy Took A Line Drive Right Above The Ear
- Is Nick Maronde just what the Angels needed? Sure looked like it. With Scott Downs unavailable after pitching in back-to-back games, Maronde filled in, shall we say "adequately"? Maronde bails Halos out on 23rd birthday - angels.com. "Maronde turned around the switch-hitting Coco Crisp and struck him out swinging on a 92-mph fastball, then struck out the left-handed-hitting Seth Smith swinging on an 83-mph slider to end the threat, then started the eighth with a strikeout of the lefty slugger Josh Reddick on a 91-mph fastball. If you're scoring at home, that's four strikeouts against four batters to kick off Maronde's Major League career."
- Seems like everyone is still waiting on a decision...Injured Angels pitcher Weaver plays waiting game - Yahoo! Sports. ""We have time to make this decision. We have a day off (Thursday), which can help things, so we're going to just wait for some direction and we'll make a decision."
Albert Pu-who? Cardinals better off without him - St. Louis American: In The Clutch. "After another slow start, Pujols has rebounded and is batting .287 with 29 HRs and 92 RBI and is well on his way to yet another stellar season. Craig is holding his own though, batting .311 with 20 HRs and 73 RBI in nearly 150 less at-bats. Craig has also excelled in clutch-hitting, often doing damage with runners in scoring position. Sure, Pujols’ numbers are slightly better, but even with the extensive backloading and numbers juicing the Angels did with his contract, Pujols is earning $12 million this season (the annual per year average is just over $25M). Compare that with Craig’s meager $495k salary and the Cardinals are laughing all the way to the bank." The Cardinals can spend their time at the bank...the Angels will be busy in the playoffs.
- There has to be a point where numbers don't count. When run differential doesn't tell the whole story. We've been through this as Angels fans where all of the stat community were calling the Halos "lucky" or "over-achievers". The Orioles are a good team regardless of the numbers: Keith Law Says Orioles Can't Convince Him They're A Good Team - Baltimore Sports Report. "I’ve never been one to whine about national media member’s biases because I feel that fans create them more than they are actually there. However, Law had nothing good to say about the Orioles in his most recent Baseball Today podcast on ESPN. "There’s literally nothing that the Orioles can do to convince me that they are a good team," Law ranted. "They’re like the eighth best team in the American League." The eighth best team in the AL is tied for the second best record." It's like those ugly guys who get all of the good looking women, you can't quantify it, it just happens.
- Last week I wrote what I thought was a tongue-in-cheek article about the Angels' record with and without Chris Iannetta in the lineup. I didn't do a very good job of getting the joke across. Here's a better article on causation: The Division Race That Was Over That Isn’t - FanGraphs Baseball. "If you’ve been paying any attention to baseball, which you probably have, you know that the Yankees haven’t been playing well lately, and you might know that the Mariners have. Why? If you’re a fan of correlation-to-causation alchemy, because of the Ichiro trade. Clearly, Ichiro is toxic."