It’s very likely the Los Angeles Angels will get a chance to celebrate on the field during this three-game series against the New York Yankees. The Yankees have become accustomed to similar celebrations over the years, but won’t get a chance for one this season.
The Angels look to move closer to securing the AL West title on Monday in the opener of a three-game home series against the Yankees, who are getting closer to being eliminated from playoff contention.
Los Angeles (86-56) has a magic number of three to secure the division, so it has an opportunity to clinch in this series. The Angels are headed for their third AL West title in four years.
New York (76-67) has dropped into fourth place in the AL East, and will likely miss the playoffs for the first time since 1993. The Yankees have 19 games left, and trail AL wild-card leader Boston by 8 1/2 games.
“It’s not something we imagined,” Yankees leadoff hitter Johnny Damon said. “The only way for us to deserve to move up in the standings is to play better. And we have not done that.”
If New York could pinpoint one place where its season went wrong, it may have been when it traveled to Anaheim to begin a three-game set on Aug. 8. The Yankees were still within three games of Boston, but were swept as part of a 3-7 road trip that saw them fall six games back.
The Angels have long been a thorn in New York’s side and can clinch the season series for the fifth straight season with one win in this series. They are 5-2 this year against the Yankees, whom they clearly relish playing.
“We definitely like playing against the better ballclubs,” reliever Scot Shields told the Angels’ official Web site. “We come to the park to win every day, of course, but the atmosphere every time you play New York is awesome— whether it’s in our place or theirs. The fans are there, and they’re loud.”
Los Angeles starter Jon Garland (12-8, 4.64 ERA) hasn’t pitched very well since the All-Star break, and he may need to show something in order to earn a spot in the postseason rotation. Garland is 4-2 with a 5.59 ERA in nine starts after the break.
The veteran right-hander has allowed five runs in each of his last four starts, including Wednesday’s 9-6 loss at Detroit. He gave up seven hits in six innings and did not receive a decision in that outing.
Garland has won three straight decisions in his last four starts against New York despite posting a 5.16 ERA in those outings.
Throughout his career, he has stymied Yankees captain Derek Jeter, who is 5-for-28 (.179) against Garland. Jeter needs one hit to move past Babe Ruth for second place on New York’s all-time list—both players have 2,518.
Carl Pavano (2-0, 4.20) makes his fourth start of the season for New York. He won his first two outings, before he allowed three runs over four-plus innings on Wednesday in an 8-4 win at Tampa Bay.
The right-hander is 2-0 with a 2.40 ERA in two career starts against the Angels, but hasn’t faced them since 2005.