Gentlemen, change your narratives: the Red Sox collapse/Rays surge story is kinda stale, what with the Rays’ surge being arrested of late. Now you gotta figure in the Angels who are tied with Tampa Bay, a mere two and a half back of Boston.
On September 2nd, Boston was nine games ahead of Tampa Bay and 9½ in front of the Angels in the wild-card standings. Since then the Angels have gone 12-7. Normally that’s not enough to catapult oneself into a race, but the Red Sox have cooperated nicely with that 5-15 of theirs. When you open the door someone is going to walk in.
Which also means that there isn’t one single thing anyone can point to with the Angels and say “HERE’s why they’re back in it!” There are a lot of things happening. Peter Bourjos has had a really nice second half at the plate, most specifically in the power department. Nine homers, four triples and 11 doubles since the break. Overall, a subpar offense on the season has turned into a pretty decent and occasionally downright swell offense in September. With their rotation, that’s more than enough to take advantage of what the Sox have given them.
I don’t know if they’ll make it. They have two series left: against an Oakland team that has given them a fair bit of trouble this season and against the Rangers who are playing even better than the Angels are right now. But they have a puncher’s chance. And, given the 1-2-3 of Weaver, Haren and Santana, if they do make it, they’re going to be able to give the Yankees fits in the first round.
Who says no-hitters can’t be just as fun when they happen during spring training?
Angels’ right-hander Bud Norris delivered two perfect innings on Friday night, paving the way for an eight-pitcher no-hitter against the Mariners at Tempe Diablo Stadium. Jose Alvarez, Cam Bedrosian, Andrew Bailey, Austin Adams, Drew Gagnon and Justin Anderson each filed a hitless inning of their own, leaving right-hander Abel De Los Santos to close out the ninth inning with just three pitches — and three game-saving plays by the defense.
Of course, it didn’t hurt that the Angels were facing a bevy of Mariners’ backups, rather than their starting lineup. In fact, Seattle’s lineup featured just two starting players — outfielder Leonys Martin and shortstop Jean Segura — while the majority of their everyday position players took on the Royals in a 4-3 win elsewhere in the Cactus League. The Mariners managed to reach base twice, first on catcher interference in the fourth inning, then on a four-pitch walk in the sixth, spoiling the Angels’ chances of turning their combined no-hitter into a combined perfect game.
Still, whether it’s executed in spring training or the regular season, against an All-Star lineup or one comprised of minor leaguers, a no-hitter is a no-hitter. The team’s eight-pitcher effort marked the first spring training no-no the Angels had completed since 1996, when they took on the Giants in a 15-0 showdown. Unfortunately for the 1996 squad, their regular season ended with a 70-91 record, good for last place in the AL West. Perhaps this no-hitter will prove a better omen for the coming season.
Rangers’ bullpen candidate Tanner Scheppers left Friday’s Cactus League game with pain in his “lower half,” according to reports by Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. The specifics of the right-hander’s injury have yet to be determined, but he was accompanied by the athletic trainer when he exited the game and is scheduled to undergo an MRI on Saturday.
Scheppers, 30, has a long history of elbow and knee injuries. He missed all but 8 2/3 innings of the 2016 season after undergoing a procedure to repair torn articular cartilage in his left knee. While he appeared healthy enough through his first seven appearances this spring, he failed to impress with three runs, five walks and six strikeouts over 7 2/3 innings with the club.
Should Scheppers find himself on the disabled list for another lengthy stay, MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan speculates that his absence could clear some room in the bullpen for Rule 5 draft pick and fellow righty Mike Hauschild. Hauschild, 27, has dealt seven runs, five walks and 15 strikeouts through 17 1/3 innings in camp.