Purgatory Online

Monday, September 12, 2005

On the morning of September 6, the Angels found themselves in Boston about to begin back-to-back series with the other division winners. Though they led Oakland by 1.5 games, they also knew that the A's would be playing Seattle and Texas over that stretch, meaning that there was a good chance they'd come out the other side with a diminished lead, or even having given the lead up entirely.

Instead, here on September 12, the lead is 2 games. The Angels swept the White Sox in Chicago over the weekend with a tense extra-inning victory on Friday followed by a pair of games that were not much in doubt past the third inning or so. The Chicago series may have washed some of the bad taste out of the Angels' mouths after they played poorly at Fenway, where they were seemingly lucky to win one out of three, and now, from all indications, they need only continue to play well against a significantly easier schedule than the A's will face.

But how can you possibly follow baseball and expect things will be as easy as that?

The greatest advantage the Angels have right now is simply that they are in control. While the A's will be forced to watch the scoreboard, regardless of whether or not they win, the Angels just have to win and everything else will take care of itself. The A's have to worry about their best pitcher, who will miss at least another week and possibly the rest of the season. The Angels have a spare starter in the bullpen. The A's have to worry about Bobby Kielty and Mark Kotsay, both of whom will probably miss time with injuries, while the Angels have trouble getting at-bats for Quinland, Rivera, and Kotchman.

There are twenty games left in the season, and the Angels are in a position to begin stepping on some necks. If they can keep the intensity they've shown over the weekend, they'll be in fine shape.