Los Angeles Angels right-hander Dan Haren channeled his inner Yogi Berra following Sunday's game.
"If we make the playoffs, we deserve it," Haren said. "If we don't, we don't deserve it."
It's not that simple, actually. The Angels have played well over the past month, winning 18 of their past 25 games. But that surge has only marginally improved their chances of landing a playoff spot.
The Angels will open their final homestand of the season with a three-game series against the Texas Rangers beginning Tuesday night. They will go into the series 7 1/2 games out of first place in the AL West -- all but eliminating that as a route to the postseason. And the Baltimore Orioles' victory over the Seattle Mariners on Monday night dropped the Angels three games out of the second AL wild-card spot with 15 games left.
"The only thing we can control is how we play, and the last 25, 30 games, we've seen glimpses of the way we can play," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "We might be in a situation where we need help from other teams. But the best way for us to pressure other teams is to keep winning, and hopefully we can keep doing that."
That won't be easy. Nine of the Angels' next 12 games are against division leaders -- the Rangers and Chicago White Sox.
"When did this game ever get easy? Nothing is easy in this game," first baseman Albert Pujols said. "You have to go through some turbulence, some tough times, to be able to accomplish what you want. You have to earn it with every at-bat, every play, every pitch, every win. We still have a pretty good chance."