Jered Weaver, Jeff Mathis

Tackling the trade deadline: Los Angeles Angels

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Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
First-half record: 50-42
Standings: Trailing Rangers by 1 in AL West, Yankees by 5 in wild card

Needs

Catcher: Well, any reasonable person would think so.  Jeff Mathis is hitting .195/.241/.286, and while Mike Scioscia deserves credit for working Hank Conger into the mix, Conger hasn’t quite shined while batting .221/.305/.369.  The Angels should bring in a half-season stopgap and kick Mathis to the curb.

Bench: The Angels don’t really have any holes besides the catcher spot: the problem is that they’re not that good anyway.  They had the financial power to add a superstar last winter, but they took on Vernon Wells’ salary instead.  Now all they can do is fill in around the margins.  With just 18 homers from left-handed hitters this year, the Angels could really use a left-handed bat for the bench.  Russell Branyan was nice in theory, but he’s useless when he’s not playing fairly regularly.

Closer: With Rich Thompson looking good and Hisanori Takahashi having improved as the season has progressed, the Angels don’t need any sixth- and seventh-inning help.  So, there’s no point to upgrading the pen unless it’s to replace Jordan Walden in the closer’s role.  Heath Bell, though, wouldn’t be nearly as much of an upgrade here as he would be in some cases.

Target

Ramon Hernandez (C Reds): Stumbling along at 45-47, Cincinnati is a team in need of a bit of a shakeup, and a Hernandez deal, with top prospect Devin Mesoraco stepping into his place, would definitely create some upheaval.

Proposed deal

Hernandez for RHP Garrett Richards

Richards, a 2009 supplemental first-round pick, is 10-1 with a 3.14 ERA and a 79/31 K/BB ratio in 106 innings for Double-A Arkansas this season.  It’d be a high price to pay for a half-season rental, but the Reds aren’t simply going to make a change for change’s sake.  All Hernandez has done this year is hit .322/.377/.539 with 10 homers in 180 at-bats.

Albert Pujols passes Mark McGwire with 584th career home run

CLEVELAND, OH - AUGUST 11: Albert Pujols #5 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim runs out a double during the ninth inning against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field on August 11, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. The Indians defeated the Angels 14-3. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
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Angels DH Albert Pujols passed Mark McGwire for sole possession of 10th place on baseball’s all-time home run leaderboard, slugging his 584th career home run in the first inning of Wednesday night’s game against the Blue Jays.

Mike Trout had already slugged a solo home run off of Jays starter Marco Estrada to bring Pujols to the dish. Pujols jumped on an 0-1 cut fastball, sending it out to left-center field, clearing the fence by a few feet.

Pujols, who finished 4-for-4 with the homer and an RBI double, is batting .257/.321/.441 with 24 home runs and 99 RBI on the year. His next target on the home run leaderboard is Frank Robinson at 586.

Zach Britton allowed an earned run for the first time since April 30

BALTIMORE, MD - AUGUST 22:  Zach Britton #53 of the Baltimore Orioles pitches for his 38th save in the ninth inning during a baseball game against the the Washington Nationals at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on August 22, 2016 in Baltimore, Maryland.  The Oriole won 4-3.  (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
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Orioles closer Zach Britton had appeared in a major league record 43 consecutive games without allowing an earned run, spanning May 5 to August 22. That streak came to an end on Wednesday evening against the Nationals.

The Orioles entered the bottom of the ninth inning holding a 10-3 lead, but reliever Parker Bridwell immediately found himself in hot water. He yielded back-to-back singles to Danny Espinosa and Clint Robinson. He was able to strike out Trea Turner, but walked Jayson Werth to load the bases. Daniel Murphy then crushed his first career grand slam to make it a 10-7 game. That prompted manager Buck Showalter to bring in Britton.

Britton, too, was knocked around. He served up a single to Bryce Harper, followed by a double to Anthony Rendon that scored Harper, pushing the score to 10-8 and ending Britton’s streak. Wilson Ramos reached on a fielder’s choice back to Britton, but the lefty finally finished the game by getting Ryan Zimmerman to ground into a game-ending 4-6-3 double play.

Britton now holds a nice 0.69 ERA with 38 saves and a 61/16 K/BB ratio in 52 innings of work this season.