The nail-biting can now stop. Barring a collapse of 1995 proportions, the Angels will wrap up a third straight AL West title in about a week or so. And really, I don't think a collapse like that is likely under a Mike Scioscia-led team. Nope, they usually wait till the playoffs start for that (baddump-bump!). In all seriousness, I was a bit nervous for this past series with Texas in Arlington. I had visions of Marlon Byrd hitting homers and Neftali Feliz mowing down Halos (seriously, though, how good does that kid look? WOW). The boys showed some stones, however, in taking two-of-three from a pretty depleted Rangers squad who had dominated the Angels in every way over the course of the season. Props to the Rangers and their fans on a great season. I'm already nervous for next season.
But first, time to be nervous about the playoffs, where the Halos look headed for their eightteenth consecutive matchup with the Boston Red Sox. I'm really getting tired of this ALDS matchup, as I'm sure most Angels fans are. Whereas, I'd bet the Red Sox and their fans have noooo problem in seeing the Angels in the playoffs again, homefield advantage or not. I'm not gonna rehash the Angels recent playoff failures, as it's been done to death, but I'll be darned if the Red Sox don't look fairly vulnerable this time around. Of course, I remember thinking the same thing last year, soooo there's that. I guess.
This Angels squad looks to have all the ingredients to make a deep playoff run. It's one of the best offensive clubs in the franchise's history. They have a little more pop, to go along with the speed and agressive base running and the starting pitching looks to be rounding into shape as the regular season draws to a close. The biggest question mark is something Angels fans aren't used to questioning. The bullpen. Brian Fuentes has done little to instill confidence in Angels fans' hearts, although, by the numbers, he's been more effective than Franky Rodriguez this year. Jose Arredondo wasn't able to back up his fantastic '08 season and mainstay Scot Shields had season-ending surgery earlier in the season. Perhaps the best bullpen arm the Angels have right now is Kevin Jepsen, who is getting all the "closer of the future" tags right now. But remember, Arredondo got those same tags last season. Jepsen has been really good since some early season struggles and his power arm has really solidified the 8th inning. Is it a bad sign when you're more nervous when your closer enters a game than the set-up man. Yeah, thought so. Oh well, Bring on Boston.