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Thursday Halolinks: More than winning draws team together

You can see it when you watch this the games, they're truly a "team"

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

As the Angels' magic number drops into the single digits, I'm finally starting to see the brilliance of the front office's moves.  I'll admit it, when Garrett Richards went down I thought, "Welp, that's it.  Season over.  It was fun while it lasted."  But the way management, and more importantly the players, reacted is what turned a potential season-ending episode into one that has brought the club together.  As far as I'm concerned, this team has already won it all.

Have some Halolinks:

  • Here's what I mean when I wrote how the team is closer since Richards' injury: Los Angeles Angels at Texas Rangers - September 10, 2014 - MLB.com LAA Recap, "They're now nine games ahead of the A's in the American League West with 17 left to play and have gained an unfathomable 13 games in the division over the last 32 days. But even more impressive is what they've done since their best starting pitcher, Garrett Richards, went down with a torn tendon in his left knee on Aug. 20 -- post the best record in the Majors and the second-best ERA in the AL. Richards' injury, Albert Pujols said, "kind of pushed us together." "That moment put us back together more than we were already," Pujols added. "At that time we were playing great, but you can easily lose your focus." Since Aug. 21 the Angels have a 15-5 record and 2.98 ERA, with a pitching staff that has to piece together a bullpen game every time Richards' turn comes up."
  • The way Shoemaker and Santiago has stepped it up, while the bullpen has shortened the game to possibly six innings, has been extraordinary: Numbers again look good as Angels get easy victory - The Orange County Register, ""Shoe is one of the big reasons we’re even contending," Manager Mike Scioscia said. "If you look at our rotation and what was projected in the beginning, how he started in the bullpen and as the season went on he got a chance to get in the rotation. To do what he did is spectacular for us."  MLB Recap - Los Angeles Angels at Texas Rangers - Sep 10, 2014 - CBSSports.com, "The AL West-leading Angels (90-55), who are nine games up on Oakland after the A's lost at the Chicago White Sox, were the first team in the majors to 90 wins with their season-high seventh straight victory. Shoemaker (15-4) set a franchise rookie record for victories by winning his sixth straight decision."
  • The front office didn't panic after losing Richards.  Instead they had the fore-thought to realize the rotation spot was only going to come up a couple of times before rosters were expanded.  Once September 1st was here, the club could easily use 5 or 6 pitchers in one game: Los Angeles Angels at Texas Rangers - September 11, 2014 - MLB.com Preview, "If this would have happened in July or [in early] August, then obviously we wouldn't have been able to maintain that type of stress with the No. 5 slot," Angels pitching coach Mike Butcher said (between naps). "But in September you have more guys you can bring up. That's why we have expanded rosters. We're taking full advantage of that, and we've been able to piece this thing together as we go. "What Cory did the first time, that's the way he can pitch. He didn't quite have it [on Saturday], but we know going in that it's going to be a bullpen game, that we'll have to piece it together."
  • And this has been the outcome: Angels' pitching staff has stepped up in big way - angels.com, "Heading into Wednesday's game, the Angels had a 3.09 ERA over a 19-game stretch that began on Aug. 21, trailing only the Yankees (2.89) for the AL lead. The rotation has found a way to compile a 3.36 ERA, sixth-best in the AL, even though the Angels essentially have a bullpen game every time Richards' spot comes up."
  • Sure, pitching isn't everything.  You still gotta score runs.  And they have: Angels-Rangers Preview - Yahoo Sports, "The Angels (90-55) have outscored opponents by an average of 5.3 runs during a season-best seven-game winning streak after taking the first two in this series by a 17-4 score."
  • This is pretty cool, but I hope he's more Ted Williams rather than Buddy Lewis: Trout joins elite group with 100th run scored - angels.com, "Mike Trout scored his 100th run in the first inning of Wednesday's 8-1 win, scoring on a rare Albert Pujols triple to become the sixth player in baseball history -- joining Mel Ott, Buddy Lewis, Ted Williams, Vada Pinson and Alex Rodriguez -- to notch triple-digit runs three times before his age-23 season."
  • Giancarlo Stanton and Mike Trout represent big market changes to come - MLB Daily Dish, "It made all the sense in the world for the Angels to hand it over; Trout was coming off back-to-back seasons in which he had collectively hit .324/.416/.560 with a league-adjusted OPS+ of 174, meaning he was seventy-four percent better than a league-average player. His 20.6 Wins Above Replacement were unprecedented for a player his age, and considering hitters do not typically peak until their mid-to-late twenties, the risk was minimal that the Angels would be left holding the very expensive bag by the end of his contract; after all, Trout will be just twenty-nine years old by the end of his deal."
  • Yes.  Yes, I did know that: On deck: Angels at Rangers, Thursday, 5 p.m. - The Orange County Register, "Did you know: The Angels are the only team in the majors to score at least nine runs in three straight games this year."
  • Besides the Halo win, an Oakland loss made it nine: MLB Recap - Oakland Athletics at Chicago White Sox - Sep 10, 2014 - CBSSports.com, "Everything was going just fine for the Oakland Athletics. And then? ''The circus came to town,'' Josh Donaldson said."
  • A couple of Angel injury reports: Angels OF Hamilton still out with ailing shoulder - Yahoo Sports, "The Los Angeles Angels outfielder was out of the lineup for a sixth straight game Wednesday night against the Texas Rangers after waking up with soreness a day after two more injections. Hamilton hasn't played since leaving a game in the eighth inning last Thursday at Minnesota. He had a cortisone injection after that game."  Closer Street still unavailable as Angels 'play it safe' - The Orange County Register, "We are just playing it safe," Street said, adding that he didn’t expect to be able to pitch until at least Friday, when the Angels return home. Street tweaked his right hamstring while stretching to cover first base on the final out of Saturday’s game at Minnesota. Manager Mike Scioscia has held him out since then, although there has not been a save situation in that time."
  • This is really interesting: Baseball's 'Shift': Does It Work? - WSJ, "Some of what we've learned isn't surprising. For one thing, baseball can breathe a sigh of relief: Overall, the shift works. Shifts have saved a net of 390 hits this season through Monday. If we were to add those 390 hits back into the grand total, the overall MLB batting average would rise to .254 from .252—a significant increase considering we're talking about 146,785 at-bats." 
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  • The gulf widens: Rangers' Bogar upbeat after 8-1 loss to Angels - Yahoo Sports, "The Rangers haven't lost 100 games since going 57-105 in 1973, their second year in North Texas. ''We can't be thinking about how many games we've lost, a number and all that,'' said Bogar, who is 1-4 since Ron Washington's sudden resignation Friday."  The Truth of Rooting for a Terrible Team – The Hardball Times, "The question is this: Why—and secondarily, how—does a fan root for his team when the rooting is paid back with ineptitude? Why—and again, how—does a fan remain loyal, both emotionally and televisually, when clownball is the return for allegiance? What’s the reward for watching games on TV?"
  • Can you imagine this?  John Lackey got angry.  Angry!  John Lackey ejected mid-batter after arguing balls and strikes - Yahoo Sports, "That said, there's a cumulative effect sometimes, especially with a guy like Lackey, who's never shy about expressing his frustration and disagreements with how a game is being called, or how he's being handled by his manager, or even how his teammates are performing behind him. He's pretty much straight-forward with everyone, to a fault.  Hallion wouldn't be the first person Lackey's rubbed the wrong way, and he won't be the last, either."  I don't think we've seen him get angry before.  I wonder what set him off?
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