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Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Angels 7, Blue Jays 2: Three Up, Three Down

By Mark Saxon

Just when you think they're out of it, the Angels usually make things interesting.

They continued to pound Toronto Blue Jays pitching in a 7-2 win Wednesday at Rogers Centre that pulled them to within 2 1/2 games of the free-falling Boston Red Sox in the wild-card race. The Angels have seven games left -- one more in Toronto before home series with Oakland and Texas.

Boston, which has gone 5-16 this month, has to tangle with the first-place New York Yankees in the Bronx this weekend before concluding the season at Baltimore.

The Good:

Peter piper. The offensive production from Peter Bourjos in the second half has been both surprising and remarkable. He's doing things rarely accomplished. With his 10th triple (he finished a double shy of the cycle), Bourjos is the first Angel ever with 25 or more doubles, 10 or more triples, 10 or more homes runs and 20 or more stolen bases in a season. What does that mean? Not sure, but it gives a snapshot of what a unique blend of talent he has.

Extra time. You figured the Angels would need to score to fare well in this series, and they've been swinging with confidence the past two games. The last time they had as many as 14 extra-base hits in a two-game span was June 12-13 of 2009, when they had 15 against the San Diego Padres.

Old haunts. Vernon Wells had a big game and -- say it together -- could this be a game that gets him going? OK, it's probably too late for that at this point, but getting him hot for the last week would be helpful. He mashed his 24th home run and drove in four. He likes that dome.

The Bad:

Wrist shot. Dan Haren usually doesn't stay down for long, and the Angels are hoping he can make another fast recovery. Coming off one of his worst starts of the season in Baltimore, he handcuffed the Blue Jays for eight innings before taking a line drive off his left wrist. The Angels will be holding their breath for X-ray results. If it turns out to be broken or even seriously bruised, their playoff push could be in trouble. Haren's last start is supposed to be Monday against the Texas Rangers.

Second lefty. It fell under the "who cares" category -- Hisanori Takahashi giving up a ninth-inning run with the lead well in hand -- but options short of Scott Downs have been worrisome this season. Say lightning strikes and the Angels do make the playoffs, who does Mike Scioscia turn to if he needs a reliever to start the seventh inning? All the options are a little scary, aren't they?

Struggles, unending. Catcher Jeff Mathis is batting .180 with a week left in the season -- .180!