The Angels finally clinched the AL West Division title after three attempts. It was a good way to celebrate on Fan Appreciation Day at the stadium.
The race for best AL record now plays a big role in the way the postseason is going to shape up. Mike Scioscia sounds as though he will be resting the regulars for some time during the final week of the regular season. Hopefully it will not impact their record too much. The Angels, Indians, Red Sox, and Yankees are vying for the best AL Record. The Yankees and Red Sox cannot play each other in the first round, so whichever team ends up with the better record will be the AL East Champion and the other team will be the Wild Card. This means that whichever team has the better record of the Angels or Indians will play the wild card team in the first round.
If the Angels play Boston, I envision it being a difficult series for the Angels. I believe they present the biggest challenge to the Angels. The Angels struggle against the Sox in general and really struggle against the team at Fenway Park. The Angels do play very well against the Yankees. Ideally I would think the road to the World Series would be paved much easier if the Angels take on the Yankees in the ALDS and the Indians in the ALCS. It would be nice if the Angels ended up playing the D-Backs or Padres in the World Series. That would open up the possibility of a road trip to a World Series game.
One of the keys to Angels postseason is the top of the lineup getting on base. I am particularly concerned with Chone Figgins and his extremely poor performance in the 2004 and 2005 playoffs. I actually have a bet with my wife regarding Figgins. I don’t think that he will bat over .200 in the postseason. She thinks that he will. If she wins, she gets a new dinette set. If I win, I get to paint all of the numbers retired by the Angels on the wall in our backyard. It’s really a win-win situation for me. Some guys are clutch when it really counts (Erstad, Eckstein, Glaus, Spiezio) and some guys just choke when it comes down to it. My nickname for Figgins is Choke (pronounced shoke instead of shone). I am really hoping he proves me wrong.
Another key to the postseason is the bullpen. The bullpen has been struggling quite a bit lately. Hopefully the guys can get back on track. Scot Shields has been having quite a bit of trouble lately and Frankie seems to turn every game into a nail biter lately. If these guys sort their issues and with Speier in the mix, the bullpen can be quite a dominant factor.
It should be interesting to see how the postseason matchups and roster shapeup. I am looking forward to a red October!