In a season that started out with major question marks, that developed into one that looked like it could die on the vine of an arson squad of a bullpen, to one that saw the new ace of the staff go down with a devastating injury, three players have stepped up to lead the Angels by their on-field performance, and today, with two weeks to go in the 2014 regular season, the LA Angels are a game away from a franchise-record-tying 11th consecutive victory, as they dominate one of baseball’s best divisions on their way to the best record of any major league team.
Yesterday was a prime example of the performances that the team has grown to expect from Mike Trout, Huston Street and Jered Weaver.
|Trout, with home runs in the first and third innings gave the Angels an early lead that was never in jeopardy, with Weaver pitching. Trout increased his personal best home run total to 34, and his American League leading 107 RBI is now the best in either league. Weaver pitched seven strong innings, and is now the AL leader in wins, at 17, as he struck out a season high 12. Stepping up when the club needed it the most, Weaver has now won ten of his last 12 decisions as the Angels||
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But, the key of all keys, as I have written over and over because it deserves to be shouted from the rafters over and over, is the bullpen, rebuilt on the fly over the season to morph from maybe baseball’s worst to likely baseball’s best. The leader of the pen, Huston Street, had missed a few games due to a slight hamstring pull, but he came back yesterday to pitch a scoreless ninth inning for his 14th save as an Angel and 38th total for the season. His ERA with the Angels is now 1.64, and overall a microscopic 1.31, with a 0.95 WHIP.
|With Weaver leading the AL in wins, and the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw tied for the National League lead with 18, and going after number 19 today, this season could mark the first time since 1985 when pitchers from the same market lead their respective leagues in wins. In 1985, it happened in New York, with a couple of flash-in-the-pans|
Today, as the Angels go after that 11th straight win, Hector Santiago will make the start. Very quietly and with little fanfare, Santiago himself, after his 0-7 start, has won five straight, and over is last 14 appearances has had an ERA of 2.65. But, a Santiago start generally means the bullpen will be busy, as he has not pitched into the sixth inning of any of his last four starts.
One other milestone the Angels are quietly approaching is the 100 win number. With 12 games to go, they need seven wins to become with first team since 2009 to reach 100 wins for a season. The Angels last hit that figure the previous year, with an even 100 in 2008.