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Thursday Halolinks: Starters are rebounding at the right time

That's two good outings in a row from the questionable Halo rotation

"Hey man, don't get me sick."
"Hey man, don't get me sick."
Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

The Angels are off today, their last day off of the regular season and the last day they have to relax before the grind of the playoffs.  I haven't checked if this has happened before this season, but the Dodgers are off today too.  Obviously, the two teams had the All-Star break off, but other than those four days, there's no baseball being played by either LA-based team today.  Now they have time to read their Halolinks:

  • How important was Hector Santiago's performance yesterday?  Very.  Not only did his 5+ shutout innings ease the minds of fans (a little), it gave the Angels a small amount of flexibility in their playoff rotation after his and Wade LeBlanc's outings.  Los Angeles Angels at Oakland Athletics - September 24, 2014 - MLB.com LAA Recap, "Thanks to a bounce-back scoreless outing from Hector Santiago, continued production from new cleanup hitter Howie Kendrick and a bend-but-don't-break bullpen effort, the Angels finished their season series against the A's at 10-9. Their magic number to lock up home-field advantage throughout the postseason is down to 2. And if they take two of three in Seattle this weekend, they'll be the first team to reach 100 wins since the 2011 Phillies."  Angels' Santiago makes his pitch for October in win over A's - The Orange County Register, "Santiago, who worked 51/3 innings, bounced back after he allowed 12 runs in three innings in his previous two starts, which was certainly comforting for those worried about the Angels’ rotation. "I know there was a question mark about our team," Santiago said. "I had two rough outings where you get on that negative train. I heard a week ago that we have only one starting pitcher."
  • MLB Recap - Los Angeles Angels at Oakland Athletics - Sep 24, 2014 - CBSSports.com, "Los Angeles (98-61) maintained its lead over Baltimore (95-63) for the best record in baseball and home-field advantage for the AL playoffs. The Angels beat their Northern California rival for the seventh time in the last eight meetings to capture the season series 10-9 for the first time in four years. The Angels won at the Coliseum for just the third time in nine games."
  • There are two things I learned today that took me by complete surprise...well, not complete, but kind of sneaking-up-on-you surprise.  The first, how badly the A's have played since the beginning of August: A's lose to Angels, 5-4, but still have a good shot at playoffs - LA Times, "That was definitely true Aug. 10, when the A's had baseball's best record, 72-44, a four-game AL West lead over the Angels and an 11-game wild-card lead. Then the injuries mounted, a Yoenis Cespedes-less lineup stumbled, and the A's went into a tailspin, losing 22 of 31 games from Aug. 10 to Sept. 12 to fall 11 games behind the division-winning Angels, a 15-game swing in the standings in 33 days."  I knew they've played porrly and realize they fell apart, but guys, that's huge.  15-games in 33 days!
  • The other is this: Angels' much-improved defense key to success - angels.com, "The Angels entered their fourth-to-last regular-season game with 19 more wins than they had all of last year. And though a deeper bullpen, a dangerous offense and some unexpected starting-pitching contributions have had a lot to do with that, one aspect that shouldn't go overlooked in all of this is defense. The Angels entered Wednesday's game at O.co Coliseum with just 82 errors, the fifth fewest in the Majors and three fewer than their lowest mark in franchise history (85 in 2009)."  We've talked about the improved bullpen and the offense putting up great numbers, but this is the first time this season I've heard anything about the defense and how great they've been playing.  I don't know if I've just taken it for granted, or was more focused on other aspects of the team, but the defense is putting up historical numbers.
  • Wouldn't that be a complete buttercup if the Angels get to the playoffs have a handful of players less than 100% due to the flu?  Trout exits finale vs. A's with stomach illness - angels.com, "Trout went 1-for-2 with a strikeout and a run scored, and he dropped a fly ball in deep center field before being taken out. Angels ace Jered Weaver has also been feeling under the weather lately, so there may be a bug going around the clubhouse. ... "We're taking every precaution," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said of not letting the virus spread any further. "Guys are washing their hands four to five times a day. We're off tomorrow, so we'll see how Trout rebounds and if he'll play on Friday."  Mike Trout of Los Angeles Angels leaves game with stomach illness - ESPN Los Angeles, "Trout dropped a fly ball in center field for a three-base error in the fourth. Grant Green hit for Trout in the top of the fifth. Trout had earlier singled, stolen a base and scored. Angels pitcher Jered Weaver had a stomach bug Monday and Tuesday. He said he's ready to start for the AL West champions Friday at Seattle. Josh Hamilton (shoulder, chest, rib-cage injuries), who has missed 18 of the last 19 games, is expected to miss the Angels' final regular-season series against the Seattle Mariners but plans to return for the start of the playoffs."
  • It's funny, but for some reason I feel comfortable seeing Rasmus take the hill: Los Angeles Angels at Seattle Mariners - September 26, 2014 - MLB.com Preview, "If Weaver isn't able to go, the Angels would likely turn to Cory Rasmus -- who would be pitching on the normal four days' rest -- as part of another bullpen day. If Weaver does start Saturday, he would still be able to start Game 1 of the American League Division Series on normal rest. Weaver leads the AL in wins (18) and is coming off two of his best starts this season. He's given up four runs in his last 14 innings (2.57 ERA), while allowing a .184 batting average against and striking out 12.2 batters per nine innings."
  • Josh Hamilton update:
  • Angels' Hamilton has 'no doubt' he'll be ready for postseason - The Orange County Register, "Hamilton has played only one game since Sept. 5, first sitting out because of a sore shoulder and lately with soreness in his ribs. The pain in his ribs, however, is gone, Hamilton said Wednesday. That’s why he’s so confident he’ll be able to play when the division series starts next Thursday, even if he doesn’t play this weekend in Seattle. "There’s no sense in me coming back and having the issue," Hamilton said. "I can just use the extra days and then play. I know you guys think, ‘Well, he hasn’t had any at-bats, how’s he going to feel, blah blah blah.’ It doesn’t really matter."  I've "blah, blah, blah" stuff before.  I've even blah, blah, blah'd sex.  "Yeah. I met this lawyer, we went out to dinner, I had the lobster bisque, we went back to my place, blah, blah, blah, I never heard from her again."
  • I wrote yesterday that I'm looking forward to an Angels-Cardinals World Series, but I suppose an Angels-Dodgers series would be my second choice.  Dodgers clinch NL West behind Clayton Kershaw and Yasiel Puig - Yahoo Sports, "With the division wrapped, Los Angeles turns its attention to home field in the NL playoffs. They currently trail Washington by 2 1/2 games. The Dodgers still have three games remaining. Washington has six after a Wednesday rainout against the Mets."
  • Ashtray money: Phil Hughes of Minnesota Twins likely loses $500K bonus due to rain delay - ESPN, "Hughes pitched eight innings Wednesday in the Minnesota Twins' 2-1 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks, a game that was delayed 66 minutes due to rain. It was the final start of the season for Hughes, who fell one-third of an inning short of triggering a $500,000 innings bonus in his contract with the Twins. The right-hander has thrown 209 2/3 innings this season; his contract stipulates that he would receive the bonus if he reaches 210 innings pitched."
  • Here's something to do during today's off day: 30 for 30 Shorts: ‘Fields of Fear’ - Grantland, "Mackey Sasser was an exceptional catcher for the New York Mets in the late 1980s and early ’90s. He could hit. He could manage a pitching staff. He could nail you trying to steal second base. But one day, there was something Sasser couldn’t do. He couldn’t throw the ball back to the pitcher. Suddenly the most basic act for a catcher was next to impossible for Sasser. What happened? This film explores the mental side of the game and shows how a childhood trauma can come back to overwhelm a professional athlete, and how confronting it can lead to recovery."
  • I'm glad it's the Baltimore Orioles' DeCinces and not the California Angels' DeCinces: Ex-CEO charged in former Orioles All-Star Doug DeCinces' insider trading case - ESPN, "Federal prosecutors say the former CEO of a Southern California medical device company has been indicted on allegations that he shared insider trading secrets with former Baltimore Orioles All-Star Doug DeCinces."