Tuesday, August 23, 2011
Angels living dangerously, thriving
By Mark Saxon
Peter Bourjos is mobbed by teammates after his ninth-inning single won it for the Angels over the White Sox.
ANAHEIM -- The fact the Angels have needed their last at-bat to win three of the five games in this winning streak -- the one that has let them whittle 3 1/2 games off the Texas Rangers' lead in the AL West in less than a week -- tells you a couple of things.
It tells you they're built to play close games and it tells you they're not a team that gives off the aura of being in the elite. In fact, this propensity to pull things out late kind of mirrors a larger question: Are the Angels in the Rangers' class given the fact they've beaten their opponents by a total of 16 runs and the Rangers' run differential is 112?
Suddenly contenders again, the Angels are choosing to look at how the late escape jobs reflect positively on them.
"It's the greatest thing in the world, man. I love it," Torii Hunter said. "We have a lot of fight over here. Even though a lot of people said we were out of it and they don't have faith, we've got a lot of faith in this clubhouse."
You can see how small steps forward by this offense have deep reverberations in the standings. Mark Trumbo hit a two-run home run to avoid a sweep against Texas and keep their hopes alive. They nearly blew one against the awful Baltimore Orioles, then pulled it out in the 12th. Peter Bourjos, one of the hottest hitters in the league this month, beat the Chicago White Sox with a ninth-inning single for Tuesday's 5-4 win.
The Angels still have a couple of dead spots in their lineup, but it's not riddled with holes like one of those old gangster sedans.
Bourjos is batting .378 this month. Even if this Angels rally comes up short in September, they'll at least have some bright talents they can look forward to returning next year. Trumbo has a shot at Rookie of the Year and Bourjos is a far more complete player than he looked to be before the All-Star break.
"There's no doubt he's the Gold Glove center fielder of this league and, at the plate, what he's done the last couple months has, I think gone unnoticed by a lot of people," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said.