On the morning of August 22, Texas had seen its lead over the Angels whittled from 7.0 games down to 4.0 in the space of four games, with these two stretches of schedule awaiting each club:
TEXAS: Red Sox (4), Angels (3), Rays (3), @ Red Sox (3), @ Rays (3). All playoff contenders.
LOS ANGELES: White Sox (2), @ Rangers (3), @ Mariners (4), Twins (3), Mariners (3). One playoff contender – the one that the Angels wanted on their schedule.
The Rangers emerged from that run seeing its 4.0-game lead reduced to 2.5 games, a result that both teams probably felt sorta OK about, Texas from the standpoint that it maintained an adequate lead going into a stretch in which schedule strength would turn around, and Los Angeles from the perspective that it had Texas within striking distance as the dogfight continued, headed toward a season-ending three in Anaheim in which the Angels would be able to send Dan Haren, Ervin Santana, and Jered Weaver to the hill.
But since then, Texas is 4-1 and Los Angeles is 4-2. Trading punches doesn’t do the Angels much good at this point. The separation is three games today. The Angels are off for the final time, and the Rangers will get their last off-day of the regular season on Monday.
Mike Scioscia confirmed that Weaver will go on short rest at some point to allow him to pitch that Game 162, and as we discussed yesterday, common sense would suggest that the Angels would make that adjustment this weekend, sending their ace out Sunday in Baltimore rather than Monday in Toronto. Oakland and Rich Harden managed to force Weaver to throw 115 pitches yesterday, however, and the only other time he’s pitched on short rest in his career was on August 28, when Texas put seven runs up on him in six innings.
But the Angels have to pull out all stops at this point.
Christina Kahrl (ESPN) doesn’t think moving Weaver up one day – when Game 162 may end up not mattering at all – is enough. She suggests that Scioscia ought to not only start Weaver on three days’ rest, but also move Haren and Santana up a day, and Weaver again, so that the Angels can go Haren-Santana-Weaver in Baltimore this weekend and Jerome Williams-Haren-Santana-Weaver in Toronto.
That’s a lot to ask of Weaver in particular, but given the way Texas has battled through these last three weeks, that’s where Los Angeles finds itself right now.
Call it desperation or turning the temperature up, but the Angels are in that position because of the way Texas has been hitting and pitching and catching the ball lately, playing like a team poised to defend its AL West title by claiming another one.