The Los Angeles Angels are fresh off an impressive three-game sweep of their divisional opponent the Texas Rangers, but that momentum needs to carry over if they hope to maintain any realistic chance of winning the AL West this season.
The two-time defending division champions in the Oakland Athletics currently hold the league’s best record at 47-29 and are also one of the hottest teams in MLB. Prior to Sunday’s loss to the Boston Red Sox, the A’s had won seven out of their last eight games and during that time expanded their lead in the division to five games over the Angels.
Although it is not an insurmountable deficit, it is a comfortable margin for Oakland to play with, and they do not appear to be slowing down any time soon with their next two series on the road against favorable opponents in a two-game set against the New York Mets and a three-game trip against the Miami Marlins. However, the A’s will have their hands full with their next following three series against division leaders in the Detroit Tigers, Toronto Blue Jays and San Francisco Giants. They will finish off the first half of the season with a three-game series against a Wild Card contending team in the Seattle Mariners that has split the first 10 meetings with them this season.
During that tough stretch for Oakland, Los Angeles will have a favorable schedule against three teams that they have had much success against this season in the Chicago White Sox (3-0 record against), Houston Astros (6-4 record) and complete the first half of the year with a four-game road trip to Arlington to face the Rangers (4-2 record). This is where the Halos should take advantage of the schedule that will give them the best chance to make up ground on the A’s.
This is not to forget the upcoming next two series against the Kansas City Royals and Minnesota Twins, both of which the Halos have played well against over the past couple of seasons. With that in mind, Los Angeles will have to improve on their level of play on the road as they hold just an 18-19 record on the road as opposed to the their league-best 23-14 record at home. The Halos must take care of business on the road with 10 out of the 20 remaining games in the first half of the season will be played away from Anaheim.
It is not a daunting task, and if the Angels can keep playing at a high level with their starting pitchers giving them quality starts, all will fall in place as their offense will continue to drive in runs. The bottom line is that the next three weeks will determine the fate of the Halos’ chances of winning the AL West this season.