More than one million people are talking about raiding Area 51. We’re about to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11’s Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walking on the moon.
And we have the Los Angeles Angels.
There is an oddity to it all, especially those who believe they’ll raid a heavily guarded military area and come home with something that looks like E.T. I can appreciate the moon walkers, obviously, even though it happened just 2 1/2 months after I was born.
But I want to talk about the Angels, and the eerie presence of the late Tyler Skaggs last Friday.
In case you missed it, the numbers were astounding during the team’s 13-0 win over the Seattle Mariners, in which the 11th no-hitter in Angels history was thrown, and oh by the way, Skaggs wore No. 11 at Santa Monica High School.
All of Skaggs’ teammates donned his No. 45 and his name on the back of their jerseys and Mike Trout blasted a 454-foot home run. The length of that shot reads 45, both backward and forward.
The Angels plated seven runs in the first, and 13 runs total. Skaggs would have celebrated his 28th birthday the next day, on 7/13. And, across the no-no, Angels pitchers faced 28 batters.
The day Skaggs was born — July 13, 1991 — the Orioles tossed a combined no-hitter in Oakland, the last time a combined no-hitter took place in Skaggs’ home state of California.
“No matter what your beliefs are, what you believe in, there was someone helping out tonight,” rookie third baseman Matt Thaiss told the media after the game.
I don’t know about you, but I certainly believe more about divine intervention and more men and women traveling to the moon than I do about aliens inside Area 51. I also believe whatever spirit may have stirred up the Angels that night in Anaheim could help them make a run in the American League West.
The Angels went into Tuesday night’s game against the division-leading Houston Astros on a four-game winning streak, with the first victory being that inspirational win over Seattle. The Halos were ranked ninth with a .261 batting average thanks to a July batting average that saw them hitting at a .282 clip – seventh best in the league. They ranked second in the league this month with 70 runs scored.
Trout continues to power his way through pitchers, as he leads the Angels in home runs and extra-base hits, while slugging better than .650. The team has also seen a recent offensive surge from Kole Calhoun, who recently hit .333 with two doubles, four home runs and eight RBIs during a 10-game stretch from the end of the first half and into the second half of the season.
The only area they need improvement is pitching. The Angels rank in the bottom half of the league with a rather high ERA that is close to 5.00, despite an opposing batting average that ranks in the top 10, limiting hitters to less than .250.
After Monday’s win, the Angels were 7-3 with a 4.48 ERA in July, so there are signs of the staff getting better, while the team sat in fourth place in the West, 10 games back of the Astros and just 4.5 games back in the wild-card race.
Last week I wrote about the Oakland Athletics as my A.L. sleeper, but don’t be surprised if the Angels creep their way up the standings and find a way to disrupt things much sooner than aliens arriving, or anyone else walking on the moon.
Now, let’s get to some out-of-this-world picks for this week:
Tigers at Indians: I’m headed to the American League Central to play the Cleveland Indians against the Detroit Tigers, as I see a pitching mismatch on our hands. The Tigers hand the ball to Matthew Boyd, who will have a challenge at Progressive Field, where he was tagged for three home runs over six innings in a no-decision back on June 21.
I’d rather back Trevor Bauer, who will be out to avenge a rough outing against the Twins on Saturday, when allowed three homers in two innings. He settled in to register 11 strikeouts over six innings, but he’ll want the win here. INDIANS
Rays at Yankees: In the series finale of this American League East rivalry, I’m going to play the under, with Charlie Morton getting the ball for Tampa Bay and J.A. Happ on the bump for the Yankees. Morton is 1-0 after allowing four earned runs over 9.2 innings against New York this season. That includes an impressive showing on July 7, when he allowed one run, five hits and one walk while striking out 10 in 5.2 frames during a 2-1 victory.
Happ, meanwhile, is 1-0 with a 2.61 ERA in two starts against Tampa Bay this season and will be at his best to close out this crucial series with a win for the pinstripes. UNDER
Angels at Mariners: After opening the second half of the campaign with a seven-game homestand, including the four-game set vs. the Astros, the Angels hit the road for five games, beginning in Seattle. The Halos swept Seattle to start the second half, outscoring them 28-5, and will be looking to carry their momentum on the road.
I don’t know how well they’ll do in Seattle and Los Angeles, where they’ll play two against the Dodgers, but I’m sure this team knows they must open the trip with a win. As I said, the offense is coming around, and catches the struggling M’s at the right time, after visiting Anaheim and Oakland. Let’s play the Halos in this spot. ANGELS
Last week: 2-1
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