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Tuesday, September 20, 2011
Angels 10, Blue Jays 6: Three Up, Three Down

By Mark Saxon

The Angels guaranteed they won't be eliminated from playoff contention on this road trip with a 10-6 win at Toronto Tuesday night.

Coupled with the Boston Red Sox's 7-5 loss to the Baltimore Orioles, the Angels now are 3 1/2 games out in the wild-card race. They trail the Texas Rangers by five games in the AL West. They have two more games left on the road and six more left at home.

The Good:

Young lumber. Mark Trumbo got a little separation in the Rookie of the Year race and helped his hometown Angels stick around a little longer. He golfed his 29th home run -- a vicious line drive-- putting him within two of Tim Salmon's team record for a rookie. He also drove in four runs, giving him 87 RBIs this year, most in the majors for rookies.

Top heavy. Setting the table had been an issue in recent games, but you couldn't have had a more bountiful meal in this game. The top three hitters went 8-for-13 and scored five runs. For at least one night, the Angels resembled one of those Beast-from-the-East offenses, getting on base and cashing in all night.

Coming right up. Getting a couple of solid starts from Jerome Williams and Joel Pineiro sets the Angels up to get their Big Three pitchers in a row over the next three days (and the last three). That tends to work out well.  Since the end of June, the Angels are 31-14 when one of those guys -- Jered Weaver, Dan Haren or Ervin Santana -- starts.

The Bad:

Catching cold. The Angels have been solid with their gloves all season, but lately things have gotten a bit messy. The end of Tuesday's game wasn't exactly nice and neat thanks to Trumbo's error. He just missed Howie Kendrick's throw on what would have been the final out, giving the Angels three unearned runs allowed in the past two games.

Kid's confidence? One of the subplots of the end of this season involves the Angels' top prospect. They would love for Mike Trout's career to get off to a nice, solid start. But lately he's been struggling -- 1 for his last 18 to drop his average to .206 -- and you wonder whether the 20-year old's confidence is being tested.

Resistance. This pennant race would have gone a little bit differently if the rest of the AL West had given Texas even token resistance. Including Tuesday night's win over Oakland, the Rangers are 23-9 vs. the A's and Seattle Mariners this season. They have five more games left against those teams.