Cross posted at Socal Sports Hub.
Forty-two years into their history, the Angels had won the American League's Western Division a grand total of three times. They've since won it another four times in the last five years. This year, they clinched it earlier than anyone since 1971. Better yet, we may finally be getting to the point where we can put 1995 behind us.
Dustin Moseley, making his second start in place of an injured Jered Weaver, withstood a shaky start (he gave up two runs in the first inning) to last five strong innings, and left the game with a 4-2 lead. He was handed that lead courtesy of Robb Quinlan, who really picked up Juan Rivera and Kendry Morales in the fifth inning. The Angels loaded the bases with no one out on three straight single, the third being a shot by Vlad Guerrero that got to right field just fast enough to hold Gary Matthews to one base. Rivera and Morales responded to the opportunity by striking out looking. After fighting off some two strike pitches (amazing what happens when you swing), Quinlan laced a single to left center, scoring two. Xavier Nady's throw to third made it's way past Alex Rodriguez, allowing Vlad to score an insurance run.
From that point, the bullpen took over. Kevin Jepsen tossed a scoreless sixth, and the 7,8,9 combo of Jose Arrendondo, Scot Shields, and Frankie Rodriguez combined for nine outs, six of them via strikeout, allowing only three baserunners to seal the victory. The save, #56, puts Frankie one save away from Bobby Thigpen's record.
Top three Angel performers:
1) Dustin Moseley, filling in for Jered Weaver, gave the Angels five strong innings and stuck around long enough to pick up the win. He allowed six baserunners, and struck just as many out.
2) Robb Quinlan only had one hit, but it was huge, not only coming with the bases loaded, but also after the two previous hitters had gone down with the bat on their shoulder. The Angels needed one run to tie the game, and were about to come away with nothing. Quinlan got them two, and Nady threw in the third run for free.
3) Once again, I've got to give credit to the whole bullpen. Kevin Jepsen threw a solid sixth inning, and Jose Arredondo, Scot Shields, and Frankie Rodriguez showed everyone how a 7, 8, 9 combination is supposed to work. They combined for four innings, three baserunners, and seven strikeouts.
Jeff Weaver of the game: I'm going to go off script and select no one here. Even Juan Rivera, the only Angel without a hit, found a way to drive in a run. It was a solid team effort across the board.
What to look for tonight: Look for a lot of Angels regulars sitting in the dugout when the Mariners are at bat. Don't be surprised to Mike Scioscia starting a very young lineup with probably no more than five normal starters. Jered Weaver returns to the mound after missing a couple of starts with cuts on his fingers courtesy of the bullpen bench in Detroit.
Game Time is 7:05 PST, on FSN.