Angels Have Labor Day Off After Sweep of Oakland

The Angels, amazingly, join several major league clubs in an off day today, a new Labor Day tradition that baseball began after decades of full holiday schedules. Regardless, the Angels deserve a day off to bask in the first-place splendor of a five-game lead over the Oakland A’s, following their four-game sweep of the team that experts had picked to run away with the American League West and skip merrily into the World Series.

Rookie Matt Shoemaker provided another brilliant effort yesterday, pitching seven shutout innings, raising his record to 14-4 and lowering his ERA to 3.14. The Angels also, again, beat up their former teammate, Scott Kazmir, knocking him out early now in two consecutive starts, this time in the second inning. Kazmir’s demise was highlighted by him walking two consecutive batters each with the bases loaded, forcing in two runs. In those

two games, the Angels scored 13 runs in a total of 4-1/3 innings pitched, which saw Kazmir's ERA go from 2.73 to 3.39. To be fair, the Twins and KC also beat him up a bit before that, and the Angels just have continued the trend. Kazmir is 3-5 with a 6.21 ERA since the All-Star break.

The A's as a team were 12-17 in August, after losing those last four in a row to the Angels. They were, however playing well going into August,
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and looked to all the world to be on the way to fulfilling their destiny, but then they traded away Yoenis Cespedes for Jon Lester, and while Lester has pitched well, their power drain of no Cespedes and a slumping Brandon Moss has been too much for the team, and their strong and deep pitching staff, to handle. Moss had 23 home runs on July 24, but he has not hit one since, going homerless in just over 100 at bats. He drove in four runs during August, none in the team’s last 14 games, including none in the seven August games against the Angels.

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On the final day of waiver deals where acquired players were playoff-eligible, the A's sent some unknown for now players to the Chicago White Sox for veteran slugger Adam Dunn, who brings 460 lifetime homers, including 20 this season, to their lineup. Dunn has compiled some amazingly consistent numbers in his career, for example hitting exactly 40 home runs in 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2008, and then 38 in both 2009 and 2010.

The A’s still are pretty much assured of a wild-card playoff spot, but that one game “series” could find them in a one-and-out up against David Price of Detroit, Felix Hernandez of Seattle, or some similar dynamite pitcher, and that has to be very scary for them.

Meanwhile, the Angels can relax today with their five game lead and with their major-league best 83-53 record. Tomorrow, they play in Houston, facing the Astros and their new interim manager, Tom Lawless, following the firing of Bo Porter.

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