Well, the final stretch of the season isn’t going as planned.
The AL West has continued its dominance over the Angels this season as the Halos enter into their final nine games of the season. We’ve been through enough baseball-caused depression over the last seven days to dwell on what was inarguably a failed stretch of Angels baseball, but we have to take a peek, nevertheless.
Sure, there were some good moments and notables to build on, but when it’s said and done, all eyes are on the offseason and what the Angels can do to turn this team into a playoff contender next season.
There is some news pertaining to the offseason as well as other team news, so close your eyes and scroll down if you want to avoid the results of this week...
Vs. Oakland Athletics (0-3)
At least all the games were close, though it’s doubtful that will be a consolation prize for anyone. The Angels lost 5-4 on Friday despite the A’s committing 3 errors and leaving 11 men on base.
LHP José Suarez was roughed up in the first inning for the Angels and tagged for three runs on Saturday, but that was the only damage the A’s would do the rest of the game. Unfortunately, the Angels only scored one run and stranded seven while going 1-6 with RISP in the 3-1 loss.
The Angels got close to a win on Sunday that they ultimately let slip away. Shohei Ohtani was excellent in the start, finishing with a final line of 8.0 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 HR and 10 Ks, but the Angels offense did not back him up, taking a 2-0 deficit into the ninth inning. José Rojas tied the game at 2-2 in the bottom of the ninth with a base hit and error that sent the game into extras. The A’s got a run in the top half of the 10th inning and the damage was limited, but the Angels couldn’t convert in the bottom half. A pair of groundouts and a lineout ended the game and cemented the sweep.
Vs. Houston Astros (1-3)
On Monday, the Astros blitzed the Angels 10-0. Jaime Barria got the loss with a final line of 5.1 IP, 10 H, 2 R, 5 Ks and 1 HR.
On Tuesday, the Astros scored 10 again in a 10-5 Angels loss. Jack Mayfield (10), Phil Gosselin (7) and Ohtani (45) each homered in the loss. LHP Packy Naughton was charged with the L after four innings and allowing four hits, four runs, three walks and two home runs. The bullpen after him couldn’t keep the Angels in the game.
Wednesday’s 9-5 loss was one of the most infuriating losses of the season. After going down 3-0, the Angels took a 5-3 lead in the bottom of the seventh inning, with Jack Mayfield hitting the go-ahead 3-RBI double in what appeared to be a revenge game. The lead didn’t last long as the Astros tied the game in the next inning.
Here’s where the frustration sets in: In the bottom of the ninth, the Angels got a runner into second with only one out. Nothing came of it and they went to extras. In the 10th, they didn’t score despite having the bases loaded with nobody out. In the 11th they got a runner to third with only one out. He didn’t score.
The Astros finally capitalized and scored four in the 12th to secure the 9-5 victory. The loss became the Angels’ sixth in a row. “Rough” doesn’t even cut it.
Finally, on Thursday, the Angels broke through with an Alex Cobb gem that snapped the losing streak. Cobb went 5.2 IP with only one run allowed and four strikeouts, further enhancing his value for his upcoming free agency. Ohtani was walked for the seventh time in two days, Mayfield doubled again in another revenge game (only this time his 2-RBI double sealed the win), and Raisel Iglesias picked up his 33rd save of the season. The Angels won 3-2.
The Angels (73-80) will take on another division rival they’ve struggled against, the Seattle Mariners (84-69). The Mariners are fresh off a 4-game sweep of the A’s and are riding a 5-game winning streak. They’re only two games back of the second AL Wild Card spot so expect them to hold nothing back this weekend.
The M’s will toss out RHP Logan Gilbert (6-5, 4.75 ERA), LHP Tyler Anderson (7-9, 4.01 ERA) and LHP Marco Gonzales (9-5, 4.14 ERA) in this 3-game series. Gonzales will face Ohtani (9-2, 3.28 ERA) in the series finale and final home game of the season on Sunday.
The Mariners are currently getting multiple contributions and seem to be clicking on both sides of the ball. INF Ty France is a key player to watch out for on Seattle. He’s hitting .291 on the season with 17 HR and 65 RBIs, and is especially on fire as of late, hitting .400 with a .516 OBP and .600 SLG in his last seven games.
The Angels are 5-8 against Seattle this season.
Free Agent Chatter
Maddon Says What You’re Thinking: Manager Joe Maddon had some interesting things to say this week regarding the state of the franchise. Just like you, he’s sick of losing and believes multiple top-line rotation pieces must be added in the offseason:
Maddon was also asked about Reid Detmers being in next year's rotation, and he suggested that the Angels need to aim higher. pic.twitter.com/dAt3TuFqw2— Jeff Fletcher (@JeffFletcherOCR) September 23, 2021
Regarding his impending free agency, Cobb spoke highly of Maddon and the fanbase, saying he liked Angels fans and felt a “playoff intensity” at times. He added that there haven’t been talks to return, but expects a conversation at some point.
When asked about it, he said, “I think we’ve developed a good enough relationship to at least have casual conversation and see where each other are at.”
Per reports, Cobb has emerged as a veteran leader and good clubhouse guy for the team, so a interest in a reunion may be mutual if the price is right.
Scherzer Southbound?: Top Angels play-by-play announcer Matt Vasgersian got the Angels’ rumor mill going this week when he went on Buster Olney’s podcast and claimed there is a coalition forming within the Angels’ organization, spearheaded by Mike Trout, to bring upcoming free agent RHP Max Scherzer to Anaheim in the offseason.
A Scherzer-Angels union had been rumored to be possible around the trade deadline before he ultimately went to the Dodgers, so it makes sense that a link would be made now. Although the Halos are looking for a frontline starter, there will no doubt be a bidding war between the infinitely wealthy Dodgers and the rest of the field. Also, Scherzer’s age (he will be 38 next year) is likely to be a major caveat to any deal. Regardless, it would be surprising if the Angels don’t at least touch base with his camp during the offseason.
Scrimping at Shortstop: Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times wrote how someone familiar with “the team’s thinking” is saying that the Angels “would prefer to spend most of their financial resources on pitching and perhaps scrimp a bit at shortstop.” The Angels have a glaring hole to fill at the position, alongside rotational needs. However, in perhaps the deepest SS free agent field of all time, the Angels are thought to be players in that market. Time will tell how high (monetarily) the Angels go regarding a new shortstop, but it seems that they’ve at least heard your complaints and getting starting pitching will be a top priority.
#Angels Roster Moves:— Angels PR (@LAAngelsPR) September 20, 2021
•Reinstated RHP Austin Warren from injured list
•Optioned RHP Cooper Criswell to Triple-A Salt Lake
Transactions:— Angels PR (@LAAngelsPR) September 23, 2021
Selected contract of RHP A.J. Ramos
·Recalled RHP James Hoyt from Salt Lake
·Reinstated LHP Reid Detmers from IL & optioned to Salt Lake
·Transferred RHP Dylan Bundy & OF Justin Upton to 60-day IL
Last night RHP Jose Marte & RHP Sam Selman were optioned to Salt Lake
Ohtani keeps chasing history:
After review, #Angels Shohei Ohtani has stolen his 24th base of the season.— Matt Birch (@MattBirch12) September 24, 2021
He is now two home runs and one stolen base shy of becoming the first player in American League history to reach 47+ HR and 25+ SB in a season.