After clinching a franchise-record third straight division title, the Los Angeles Angels can now rest up for the postseason.
The Texas Rangers, meanwhile, are on the verge of taking an even longer break beginning next week.
The Rangers will try to stave off playoff elimination Tuesday night in the second of a four-game road series against the Angels.
Los Angeles (92-64) ended the suspense early by scoring seven runs in the first three innings of Monday night’s 11-0 victory and earned its sixth playoff berth in eight seasons.
However, this could be the Angels’ most cherished postseason run after the death of 22-year-old starting pitcher Nick Adenhart(notes) in a hit-and-run accident April 9. They also overcame a 29-29 start to reach 90 wins for the sixth time in manager Mike Scioscia’s 10 seasons.
“We had a rough start, lost a dear friend and teammate, and we didn’t do much in the first half,” outfielder Torii Hunter(notes) said. “We made this a very special season, though. We’re going to celebrate tonight, and then get ready for what’s next.”
Texas (85-71) fell six games back of Boston in the wild card race with six to play and could be eliminated before Tuesday’s game if the Red Sox beat Toronto.
The Rangers have faded badly, losing 11 of 17. Nagging injuries to top hitters Michael Young(notes) (hamstring) and Josh Hamilton(notes) (back) also haven’t helped, but Young had two hits in his first game since Sept. 15.
“We don’t make any excuses … but you cannot replace those two guys,” manager Ron Washington said before Monday’s game. “I would have liked to see what it would have been like with those two guys there. We definitely missed them.”
In his fifth major league season, Feldman is tied for second in wins in the AL. The right-hander is 3-0 with a 3.28 ERA in four starts versus Los Angeles, including victory in his only start in Anaheim on Aug. 7. However, he’s also coming off his worst effort of the year—getting tagged for seven runs and seven hits while matching a career high with five walks over 3 1-3 innings in a 12-3 loss in Oakland on Thursday.
“I just stunk today, pretty much to sum it up,” he said.
The Angels are expected to counter with Scott Kazmir(notes) (9-9, 5.06), who helped Tampa Bay win the AL pennant last season. He’s had mostly tough luck since being traded to Los Angeles on Aug. 28, going 1-2 with a 2.01 ERA in five starts.
He suffered the loss in a 3-2 defeat Wednesday against visiting New York while receiving two runs for the fourth straight start from the majors’ best-hitting team.
Kazmir has a good chance at rebounding if the Angels can give him enough runs. He’s 6-1 with a 2.05 ERA in 10 career starts against Texas—2-1 with a 1.96 ERA in three this season.