Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Los Angeles Angels [Print without images]

Monday, September 12, 2011
Wild card: second glimmer of hope

By Mark Saxon

Suddenly, the Angels' chances of getting into the playoffs as the wild card have sprouted to life.

The Boston Red Sox are battered and, lately, beaten. Boston has lost five in a row and 10 of its last 13, including the past three to the Tampa Bay Rays, whom they play in a four-game series starting Thursday in Boston. Meanwhile, Kevin Youkilis has hip and groin injuries, Josh Beckett is coming off a sprained ankle and John Lackey has been the worst starting pitcher in the American League.

Maybe the super team is in the midst of a spectacular September collapse? It's worth noting, because the Texas Rangers are 27-9 this year against the teams they're playing before they reach Anaheim later this month.

The Rays trail Boston by 3 1/2 games in the wild-card standings. The Angels are five back.

It's possible the Rays could take it from the Red Sox, then hand it to the Angels. Tampa plays six of its final nine games against the first-place New York Yankees. The key for the Angels in any playoff-push scenario is to do well on this dominate-able road trip, which begins tonight in Oakland, moves to Baltimore and finishes in Toronto. Anything less than 6-4 could end their hopes.

Hey, it's possible. Just saying.