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Ascending Angels

by Matt Smith

The mood around a team can change quickly in MLB.

The games come thick and fast, so win-loss records can completely change direction in little more than a week.

The Atlanta Braves were 26-16 on 20 May, with a 1.5 game lead over the Washington Nationals at the top of the NL East. Eight days, and eight losses, later they were 26-24 and joint last with the Phillies in the division, four games back from the Nationals.

The Chicago Cubs’ recent 12 game losing streak was one of the more extreme sequences of a win-loss record going south that you’ll see this season, while on the south-side of Chicago the White Sox made it seven wins in a row on Tuesday to move to the top of the AL Central.

There’s a team on the rise in the AL West too.

The Los Angeles Angels have won their last eight games heading into Wednesday, pushing themselves past .500 for the first time since Opening Day and into a much healthier position having been bottom of the AL West and eight games behind the Rangers before their recent winning run began.

Having beaten the New York Yankees  9-8 on Memorial Day, courtesy of a walk-off home run by Mark Trumbo, they downed the Bronx Bombers again on Tuesday to improve their record to 26-25. Albert Pujols continued his resurgence with his eighth home run of the season and Dan Haren pitched a gem, particularly timely due to staff ace Jered Weaver hitting the Disabled List yesterday.

The first six victories in the Angels’ current streak came against the Oakland A’s and Seattle Mariners and while those games were on the road, it’s still fair to say that they are not the hardest games on the Angels’ fixture list. They should be beating teams like the A’s and Mariners – hard as that is to type as an A’s fan – so this series against the Yankees, and the following three-game home series against the Texas Rangers, should be a better guide to their current form.

If they can complete a sweep against the Yankees today and have a positive series against the Rangers, noting that Jered Weaver will not be available for what would have been his scheduled start on Sunday, then that should set the Angels up for a good June.

They will then face the Mariners again in a three-game series before heading to Colorado for the start of the main period of Interleague play. 

By the time they get to 11 June and a series against the Dodgers, the Angels could be in a strong position in the AL West, and more importantly the AL playoff race, once again.

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