Purgatory Online

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

So it turns out that Angels blogger and noted Morrissey apologist Reverend Halofan somehow wrangled his way into the party at the team hotel last night. Pictures are supposedly forthcoming, though a part of me suspects he's making the whole thing up just to distract us from the fact that he didn't run naked across the field, as promised.

Oh, and prior to that party, the Angels won the A.L. West for the second year in a row. For the second game in a row, they got some runs early and made them stand up with strong starting pitching, crisp defense, and a resurgent bullpen. The Angels are now 10-1 in their last 11 games, and have picked a pretty good time of year to get hot. Although the A's deserve credit for putting together yet another winning season in a year in which they were expected to be rebuilding rather than contending, the last couple of weeks have made it clear which was the better team.

This year, Mike Scioscia will have the twin luxuries of resting some of his everyday players and aligning his pitching rotation, luxuries that will probably not apply to any of the other AL playoff teams. At the moment, the Red Sox, Yankees, and Indians are all tied up, with the White Sox two games ahead. Since the last weekend of the season sees the White Sox in Cleveland and the Yankees in Boston, those clubs are going to have no choice but to use their horses heavily over the next few days.

Of course, this guarantees the Angels exactly nothing. It is an advantage, but in the end the Angels will still need the pitching and defense they've gotten all year, plus some stepped-up offense from the hopefully rejuvenated lineup.

There is, I suppose, a little bit of a quandary for the Angels at the moment, since they're just a game behind the Yankee-Red Sox-Indian troika; a strong finish could propel them into a situation in which they would have the home field advantage in the first round. A strong finish coupled with a White Sox collapse could even give the Angels the top seed. But I think having rested, focused players trumps home field advantage any day; I'd guess that, over the next five days, we'll probably see the starters make some appearances, but strictly on a five-and-fly basis or a pitch count in the 60's or 70's. Meanwhile, look for Zach Sorensen to play quit a bit, since reports are that he's being considered for the postseason roster in the pinch-runner/superutility role that Chone Figgins played in 2002.

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