Yahoo! Sports: AL Wild Card predictions
The Los Angeles Angels’ slim playoff hopes received a boost on Monday, but they’re going to need more help if they want to win a third consecutive division title.
Los Angeles won 8-3 over Texas (78-79) on Monday and got some help from the Seattle Mariners, who beat the Athletics 10-9 in 10 innings, bringing the Angels within five games of the Athletics.
Los Angeles, which has won three straight and five of six, is playing its best baseball of the season. The team has gone 15-7 in September and has the best record in the majors (50-27) since July 1, but still is on the brink of missing the playoffs.
An Angels loss, combined with an Athletics win, will eliminate Los Angeles from the playoff race, but Angels manager Mike Scioscia is confident his team can enter its final series playing games that matter.
“No question our guys aren’t going to melt,” Scioscia said. “If we can make these games on the weekend meaningful, I like our club.”
The Angels have six games remaining, including four at home against the Athletics starting Thursday. Los Angeles took two of three from them over the weekend.
“We know Oakland is playing good ball and hopefully that game Thursday will mean a lot,” Vladimir Guerrero said through a translator. “We’re having fun. All we can do is go out and try and win.”
Guerrero homered twice on Monday for the Angels, who are a season-best 14 games over .500.
The Rangers have lost three straight and five of their last six.
Kelvim Escobar (11-13, 3.40 ERA) will make his fourth start of the season against Texas, looking for his first win. The right-hander is 0-2 with a 4.91 ERA in three starts against the Rangers season, failing to reach the sixth inning in two of them.
Escobar is 2-7 with a 4.09 ERA in 28 appearances—10 starts—against Texas.
After leaving his previous four starts with a sore knee, Escobar pitched seven scoreless innings against the Kansas Royals on Wednesday, scattering four hits while striking out five in a 3-0 win.
“The knee was good enough to pitch seven innings,” he said. “I felt a little sore, but I could deal with it.”
Texas will hand the ball to Robinson Tejeda (4-4, 4.50), who is 1-1 in his last four starts despite allowing just three earned over 25 1-3 innings during that stretch. The right-hander pitched five innings against the Mariners on Wednesday, allowing five runs—two earned—and eight hits in the 6-3 loss.
The 24-year-old fell to 0-3 with a 7.17 ERA in five starts at home. He is 4-1 with a 3.10 ERA in seven road starts.
“His fastball command tonight wasn’t where it had been in the past,” Rangers manager Buck Showalter said. “But I think it’s way too (early) in his pitching career to (detect any troublesome patterns).”
Tejeda is 0-1 with a 4.35 ERA in two starts against the Angels. He threw seven shutout innings against them on Sept. 15, but did not receive a decision in Texas’ 2-1, 11-inning loss.