April 26, 2012
What You Need to Know
Thursday, April 26
The Wednesday Takeaway
After a 3-2 loss to the Rays yesterday—coupled with a 7-3 Rangers win over the Yankees—the Angels are already 8 ½ games back, and their 6-12 record is the third-worst mark in the American League. Mike Scioscia’s team has lost its last three games, seven of its last 10, and 10 of its last 14. Right fielder Torii Hunter, who has yet to hit a homer in 65 at-bats, called on everyone in the clubhouse, teammates and coaches alike, to “dig deep.”
The trouble for the Angels is that while they have struggled, the Rangers have surged, and digging out of this early hole is becoming an increasingly daunting task. According to the Playoff Odds Report, Texas is now a 3-to-1 favorite over Anaheim to win the division for a third consecutive year. There are brighter days ahead for the Halos, whose .333 winning percentage entering this afternoon’s (1:10 p.m. ET) finale in Tampa Bay may well be their low-water mark for the rest of season. But is it already too late?
Pujols will break out of his .222/.282/.319 slump, and Wilson will fortify a rotation whose top two pitchers—Jered Weaver and Dan Haren—have thus far combined for an absurd 51-to-5 K/BB ratio. Ervin Santana can’t possibly continue allowing a home run nearly every other inning, and the bullpen, one of the top 10 in baseball last year, should right its ship soon enough.
But with an eighth of the season in the books, the Rangers are 15-4 and the Angels are 6-12. If Texas matches its 96-win total from last year by going 81-60 (.574 winning percentage) the rest of the way, Anaheim would need to go 90-54 (.625) just to catch up, an exceedingly difficult assignment even with the expected improvements on the horizon.
On Opening Day, many thought the Angels could give the Rangers a run for their money. Three short weeks later, the Halos look entirely outclassed, and unlikely to give their rivals more than a minor scare. A wild-card berth should still be in the cards, but it’s rapidly becoming evident that—off-season splashes notwithstanding—the changing of the AL West guard will have to wait at least another year.
What to Watch for on Thursday