The Los Angeles Angels and Oakland A’s are already fierce rivals within a suddenly competitive AL West division from top to bottom. But before the start of their latest series in Anaheim, the rivalry was given a little extra fuel to the fire courtesy of Angels’ closer Ernesto Frieri. For at least one night, the gutsy comments spouted off by Frieri were able to be backed up by the closer and make the AL West standings a bit tighter.
Over the weekend, Frieri boldly told reporters, “We’re going to beat ’em. I hate to say this, but they’ve had a little bit of extra luck. If you pay attention to every play, it’s stupid how the games go their way. But it’s going to turn.” While a little trash talk is always good for rivalries to provide a spark for teams during the long season and even to excite fans, these comments seem to be inaccurately shooting from the hip on Frieri’s part.
The A’s are one of the best teams in the league going right now. They own the best winning percentage in the AL and have the best run differential by a huge margin. Oakland’s current stranglehold on run differential looks like Secretariat pulling away during one of his races back in the day. The A’s also just went 4-2 on an east coast swing. If that is luck, we can all only be so lucky. The A’s may not have a ton of household names, but they can win games with both offense and pitching. But according to Frieri, apparently with some “luck” mixed in as well.
Frieri is also a guy who does not have a ton of room to make brash comments either. He has an 0-3 record with an over 4.00 ERA, but those can just be unlucky numbers for the closer in 2014. However, in his fourth straight day of work Frieri did come out firing against a tired bunch of Athletics. Against the heart of the A’s order, he struck out the side for his third straight save for the Angels, and for that credit must be given.
The win for the Angels pulled them to within 3.5 games of the A’s for the division lead. If L.A. has any hopes of catching Oakland throughout the season, they will need to do it in head-to-head games. The Angels are just 2-5 against Oakland, and in many of the games, they have been outplayed by the team from the bay.
Time will tell if these comments have any sustained substance as the season goes on. Oakland is already coming off a heated series with the Baltimore Orioles where tempers flared multiple times. Perhaps it is the ultimate sign of respect of teams gunning for you as the declared top dog in the league.
Oakland has proven that they are the team to beat in the AL, with or without luck. But for at least one night, the Angels showed signs of fighting back which could make the rest of the season very entertaining. Luckily, these two teams will play about a dozen more times to decide things on the field.
Nick Schaeflein is a Sports writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @ptchr2424 or add him to your network on Google.