Angels Trout, Trumbo chase Texas for title

0
181
1ANGELS1.jpg

About halfway through the 162-game season, the hottest team in baseball is smack dab here in Orange County.

The Angels are sizzling but unlike the Icarus from Greek mythology, their wings ain’t made of wax and they’re not going into a tailspin anytime soon.

About halfway through the 162-game season, the hottest team in baseball is smack dab here in Orange County.

The Angels are sizzling but unlike the Icarus from Greek mythology, their wings ain’t made of wax and they’re not going into a tailspin anytime soon.

Mike Trout – maybe the second coming of Mickey Mantle or at least the best 20-year-old to come along in a generation or so – is leading the league in batting average, last time I checked (.345 at press time). And when he’s not crushing the ball, he’s wreaking havoc on the base paths and robbing opponents of home runs.

Mark Trumbo’s  batting .353 with 10 dingers and 53 RBI.

Albert Pujols is stroking the ball like, well, the Albert Pujols we know as greatest slugger in The Show for the last 10 years and the best first baseman since Lou Gehrig.

And how about that pitching rotation? Jered Weaver, with eight wins, and C.J. Wilson, with nine, sport the second and third lowest ERA in the American League.

Manager Mike Scioscia has also shored up the team’s only weakness: the bullpen. Yes, it’s a bullpen by committee, with household names such as Frieri, Downs, Hawkins, Walden whom I’ve nicknamed the “Pen Pals,” but as long as the Angels starters go deep into the 6th or 7th innings, the pals are shutting the door on opponents.

So how many all-stars will the Angels field? Hmmm. Maybe five? I mean, Trout, Trumbo, Weaver and Wilson should make it, right? And Pujols, currently fifth among first baseman, is a wild card.

But on to more important business: Hey Texas, can you hear the footsteps? Granted, the Rangers, led by the other-worldly talent of Josh Hamilton, boast the best record in baseball but … the Angels stumbled out of the gate like a lame horse, they’ve been playing catch-up ever since and they’re within four or five games of the leaders of the AL West, which a colleague of mine – a bloody Boston fan – refers to as “The AL worst” because only two of its teams have won more than half their games.

Yeah, Texas is tough. The Orioles, to mix winged things with flowers in a messy metaphor, are no shrinking violets. The Yankees are formidable.

But facts are facts. The Angels are the best team in baseball since early May.

Does anyone believe that Trout and Trumbo – both fresh-faced 20-somethings – are going to get rubber-legged down the stretch? Or that the surging Pujols will peter out and not improve on his .270 average and below-par, for him, power numbers? Or that Weaver and Wilson won’t work their wiles well into September?

It comes down to the pen pals. C’mon boys, bring it. OK, OK, it’s July, but it’s never too early to regress to boyhood – or girlhood for you gals – and dream  a little, is it? So allow me this: How cool would it be for the Angels to win their second World Series on the 10-year anniversary of winning their first?

Remember Erstad, Salmon, Anderson and Percival? The names have changed but the game – the grand play on the grand stage, Americana-style  – goes on, and what a summer it’s going o be.t

Brady Rhoades is the editor. He can be reached brhoades@localnewspapers.org.