Angels lingering around .500 despite the exploits of Ohtani and Trout
The week began with another remarkable feat by Shohei Ohtani — he reached base five times in a game he pitched — and then Mike Trout hit a couple home runs later in that series.
Through it all, the Los Angeles Angels still looked pretty average.
The Angels are 25-23, so they appear poised to improve on last season's dismal 73-89 mark. They might even finish with a winning record for the first time since 2015. But the bar is likely to be much higher if they want to reach the postseason with the Ohtani-Trout combo.
Right now, Los Angeles is third in the AL West behind Texas and Houston, and the competition for the wild cards figures to be formidable thanks to the strength of the AL East.
The Angels did manage a split in a four-game series at Baltimore and then took two of three against AL Central-leading Minnesota, but the reality is they've had a hard time getting too far from the .500 mark. Los Angeles has had records of 1-1, 5-5, 7-7, 8-8, 9-9, 10-10, 11-11, 12-12, 14-14 and 22-22.
Anthony Rendon is hitting .301, but again is dealing with an injury. This time it's a groin strain. Of the starting pitchers, only Ohtani and Patrick Sandoval have ERAs under 4.87.
It would be fascinating to see the Angels in the playoffs — particularly how they'd decide to manage Ohtani's pitching appearances — but getting there may be an uphill climb again. And Ohtani can become a free agent after this season.
Thanks to Trout and Ohtani, the Angels have had a player finish in the top two of the MVP vote nine times since 2012. No other team has more than three top-two finishes in that span. Which four clubs have three?
Aaron Judge has been on a tear since returning from a hip injury, hitting .378 with seven home runs and 18 RBIs in 12 games. The New York Yankees are 10-3 in that span after going 6-1 on a road trip to Toronto and Cincinnati.
The Chicago Cubs have dropped seven of eight, including losses of 11-1 and 16-3 at Minnesota and 12-3 at Philadelphia. The good news for Chicago is that in the NL Central, first-place Milwaukee is only four games over .500 and all five teams are within six games of each other.
LINE OF THE WEEK
Michael Kopech of the Chicago White Sox allowed one hit in eight innings in a 2-0 win over Kansas City on Friday night. He struck out 10. A bloop single in the sixth by Michael Massey — who also broke up Michael Wacha's no-hit bid in the eighth four days earlier — was the only baserunner Kopech yielded.
COMEBACK OF THE WEEK
The Marlins are a game above .500, on the strength of a 15-2 record in one-run games. This comes after Miami played a season-high 64 one-run games last year and went 24-40.
On Tuesday night, the Marlins trailed Washington 4-2 with two outs in the ninth and nobody on. According to Baseball Savant, Miami had just a 1.4% chance to win, but Garrett Cooper doubled, Luis Arraez hit an RBI single and then Jorge Soler hit a two-run homer to give the Marlins a 5-4 victory.
Honorable mention: The New York Mets finally had a week they could feel good about, winning five straight games — all by one run — against Tampa Bay and Cleveland. Four of those victories came in their last at-bat, including a game Wednesday night when they trailed the Rays by three runs in the ninth and by two in the 10th.
Detroit Tigers (Miguel Cabrera won twice, Victor Martinez finished second), Milwaukee Brewers (Christian Yelich won and finished second, Ryan Braun finished second), Los Angeles Dodgers (Clayton Kershaw and Cody Bellinger won, Mookie Betts finished second) and Washington Nationals (Bryce Harper won, Daniel Murphy and Juan Soto finished second).
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