The Angels (68-49): This is the group of 24 players that was assembled because Mike Trout wasn't allowed to play by himself for some reason. Albert Pujols is also here, and he has been pretty ornery of late, hitting walk off home runs and mocking Yasiel Puig.
Second place in both the AL West and AL attendance, the Angels are on a mission (they went 21-5 from June 20-July 20). That mission was made clear by the Los Angeles Times:
To reach the postseason and play deep into October, the Angels must get consistent - though not necessarily overpowering - starting pitching, stout relief from a deep and dominant bullpen and enough offense to out-hit any pitching deficiencies.
Yes, to win the day, the Angels will have to - come closer now, so that I may whisper this intense secret to you - closer than that - the Angels must - closer, damn it, c'mon - the Angels must do all of the parts of baseball better than other teams.
Keep that one under your hat.
The Phillies (53-66): Just dropped three out of four to the Mets, two by one run and one by two. Probably not feeling very good. Probably don't feel like going to SoCal and getting shellacked. Probably about to get shellacked in SoCal.
The persnickety Pujols only waited six and a half hours for his latest bit of heroism: hitting a walk off home run in the bottom of the 19th innings vs. the Red Sox.
Calhoun has been hitting .318 over the past week, and delivering horizontally as an outfielder.
Chase went 7-for-13 in that four-game series vs. the Mets, with two doubles, a triple, a real home run, and a fake home run.
Byrd has been hitting. 298 over the last month and .300 over the last week, with a forceful home run and even a rare stolen base that even he couldn't pull off without a giggle fit.
Jerome Williams/C.J. Wilson
Now we get into the season's real pickles, as the Phillies race to plug the holes in the roster coming from injuries, trades, desertion, or mysterious disappearances (often caused by desertion). Williams joins the Phillies after 10 innings as a Texas Ranger in 2014, a number which he only just failed to match with his ERA (9.90). Being out west, he's probably since the Angels a lot, though. Indeed; in seven innings against L.A. throughout his nine-year career, he's allowed only eight runs.
Wilson will throw you some bean bags out of the zone, if you let him, with his BB/9 at a ripe 3.9 so far this year, consistent with the numbers he's put up throughout his career. Since his return from the DL due to a right ankle sprain, he'll also occasionally give up six runs in 1.1 IP, as he did against the Rays on August 2. This led to the labeling of his next start - in which he allowed four runs, six hits, four walks and a hit batsman in 5.2 IP - an "improvement."
C.J Wilson, meanwhile... pic.twitter.com/Ag44uDaCXh— Nick (@RFNick148) August 8, 2014
A.J. Burnett/Jered Weaver
Burnett is throwing the mark of the beast (6.66) since the All-Star break, but that's probably nothing, much like the deep whispers in my ear and hot breaths on my neck I experience just prior to sleep are probably nothing.
The Angels want to rely on Weaver, as their rotation withers and they watch the A's stockpile aces like it's the end of times and the next world will be built on the four-seam fastball. And Weaver has shouldered the team, allowing them to go 8-2 in his last ten starts. That last one, though; Weaver saw himself burned by his former catcher, Mike Napoli, and by the Red Sox' latest acquisition from the rival A's, Yoesnis Cespedes. It was his first loss since mid-June. Will he remain broken enough to let A.J. Burnett's demonic markings defeat him? I don't know; will blood stop coming out of all of my faucets?
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