ANAHEIM -- The Angels look like they're serious about this whole pennant-race thing.
With a dominating 6-0 win over the New York Yankees Saturday night, the Angels pulled to within 1 1/2 games of the Texas Rangers in the AL West. This is the closest the Angels have been to first place since Aug. 10.
The Yankees hadn't seen pitching this good in a while. It was the first time anyone had held them to one run or fewer in back-to-back games since the Baltimore Orioles did so in September of 2004.
Ace race. Dan Haren (15-8) pitched just a tad better than Jered Weaver had the night before, going an extra inning and securing the win. Haren's fastball didn't touch 90 mph all night, but he still picked up his fifth career shutout. Power hasn't been a part of either pitcher's success lately, but the results are just as dominant. It was Haren's best outing since a complete-game shutout against the Detroit Tigers on July 5.
Young talent. Mark Trumbo and Mike Trout, a pair of rookies, sparked most of the Angels' offense, which wasn't much until the seventh inning. Trumbo had three singles off CC Sabathia and Trout doubled and drove in the Angels' second run with an excuse-me bloop single to right. If you're projecting the Angels' future, these guys would be right in the middle of things. In fact, they're right in the middle of the present.
Beleaguered catcher. Jeff Mathis has had a rough year. He came into the game batting .176 and he's been relentlessly beaten up in the media and on message boards and call-in shows. But the Yankees seem to bring out the best in Mathis' bat. He pounded their pitching in the 2009 playoffs and Saturday he doubled, homered and scored two runs.
Grinding halt. Vernon Wells just can't sustain any positive momentum. He had it going for a while, but that push has come crashing to a halt in the last few series. Wells went 1-for-5 and stranded eight runners, seemingly defusing every Angels rally for a while. He is 7-for-32 (.219) since the Angels returned from Seattle.
Kendrick's jump. The Angels figured they would test catcher Jorge Posada, considering the 40-year old hadn't caught all season, so Howie Kendrick tried to steal... and was thrown out easily despite an awful throw from Posada. Kendrick is not a great base stealer. He has 13 stolen bases this year and has been caught five times.
Lineups? Is it time to put the Trout Effect to the test? The Angels are 20-4 in games Trout has started, but the 20-year-old uber-prospect still often is benched when the Angels are facing a right-handed pitcher. Maybe Mike Scioscia should ditch that strategy and give Wells a day off instead against Freddy Garcia Sunday?