Angels don’t take a holiday in pursuit of first place

Angels starter Garrett Richards delivers a pitch during the team's 4-3 win over the Kansas City Royals on Sunday afternoon.
(Jeff Gross / Getty Images)

At the traditional Memorial Day checkpoint, the Angels check out quite well. They have the third-best record in the American League, trailing only the Detroit Tigers and Oakland Athletics. The Angels are 1 1/2 games out of first place in the AL West, and they have not been closer to the division lead since opening day.

They have a winning record against the AL Central, the AL East and the National League.

They have a losing record against the AL West. This would be a good time for them to correct that, and first place might await them if they do.

The Angels wrapped a 10-game homestand in dramatic fashion Sunday with a 4-3 victory over the Kansas City Royals. They spotted the Royals three runs, then tied the score with a three-run rally in the seventh inning and won it on Chris Iannetta’s home run in the eighth.


The Angels have 28 victories. They have come from behind in 15 of them.

“The only difference between the last couple years and this year is, we don’t quit,” pitcher Garrett Richards said.

That implies the talent was there last year and the attitude was not. But, as Richards said, a winning attitude is difficult to maintain when the losing keeps mounting. The 2013 season was barely 6 weeks old, and those Angels already were 12 games out of first place.

“Coming out of the gate and being 10 games under .500 is rough,” Richards said.

The Angels devoted their spring energies to coming out of this year’s gate with a spring in their step. Then the season opened and the Seattle Mariners swept them. The Angels lost their first series against the Athletics, and they lost their first series against the Texas Rangers.

On Monday, for the first time since a 14-3 loss to the Rangers on May 4, the Angels return to AL West competition. The Angels play in Seattle, the opener of a 10-game trip against division rivals that extends to Oakland and Houston.

The unbalanced schedule demands excellence within the division. The Angels play six series against division rivals, two series against every other team in the AL.

Yet, Manager Mike Scioscia refused to emphasize the games on this trip over the games on any other trip. It is May, after all, far too soon to consider even the slightest variance from his philosophy of one game at a time.


“If you’re asking, ‘Do we want to do well against our division or do we want to do crappy?’ of course we want to do well,” Scioscia said.

“There’s a lot of baseball left. I don’t think we’re going to put any more importance on one game or the other.”

Iannetta also did not see a big week ahead, at least in terms of making a big deal about it.

“You take each game as an individual event, an independent event,” he said. “We’re just trying to win that day.”


The Angels have not qualified for postseason play since 2009. In their six playoff seasons under Scioscia, they had a winning record against the AL West every time.

It seems important, at least from the outside. On Memorial Day, from the inside, Scioscia isn’t worrying about it.

“You guys can analyze it as much as you want,” he said. “We’ll play the schedule.”