Playoffs aplenty may await
The Angels close the season with a six-game trip to Texas and Seattle, but if they finish in a tie for a wild-card spot, they could add one-game playoffs to their itinerary Thursday and Oct. 5.
Asked if he packed for a possible eight-game trip, Manager Mike Scioscia said, “We can recycle clothes. We don’t worry about that. Wherever we have to go, we’ll go. What we really need to focus on is winning today.”
The Angels could have saved themselves a lot of uncertainty and the stress of one-game playoffs if they had won the AL West and earned a trip to the best-of-five division series.
But Scioscia, as a member of baseball’s special committee for on-field members, lobbied for playoff reform, so he’s not about to complain about a system that makes it much harder for wild-card teams to advance.
“I think there will be some adjustments, but I think the best thing that came out of this is that the focus for any club is to win your division,” Scioscia said.
“You can see the huge advantage of that. Those clubs are in the driver’s seat.”
Shortstop Erick Aybar won a Gold Glove Award in 2011 and has been solid defensively this season, but a loss of concentration on a routine fifth-inning play hurt the Angels on Thursday.
With Casper Wells on first and one out, Dustin Ackley grounded to first baseman Kendrys Morales, who made an accurate throw to second. But the ball went off Aybar’s glove, allowing Wells to take third. Wells scored on Franklin Gutierrez’s fielder’s-choice grounder to give Seattle a 3-2 lead.
“These guys are terrific players, but they’re not robots,” Scioscia said. “I think Erick was looking to see how the defense was forming at first base. Was Kendrys going to get back to the bag, or was [pitcher] Dan Haren covering? He got a little ahead of himself and just missed the throw.”
Thursday could have been Torii Hunter’s last game as an Angel in Anaheim, but there are indications the 37-year-old right fielder, in the final year of a five-year, $90-million contract, will return.
Hunter came away from a recent lunch meeting with General Manager Jerry Dipoto convinced the Angels would make a strong push to re-sign him, and media and fans have campaigned on his behalf.
Angels Owner Arte Moreno, asked about Hunter by the team’s radio station on Thursday, said, “If we don’t figure out a way to re-sign him, we’re going to get hung, aren’t we?”
Left fielder Vernon Wells, who had a run-scoring single in the first inning Thursday, left the game in the eighth to tend to a medical situation involving one of his children. He did not fly on the team charter but is expected to join the club in Texas on Friday.