Disappointing Angels hope to play spoiler against Rangers

Posted Thursday, Sep. 26, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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They’ve made big splashes the last two offseasons but don’t have a postseason berth to show for it. Welcome to the Los Angeles Angels’ world.

They lured in Albert Pujols and signed C.J. Wilson away from the division rival Texas Rangers prior to the 2012 season only to finish third in the American League West.

Last winter, they wooed an even bigger star from the Rangers, Josh Hamilton, with a five-year, $125 million contract. But that wasn’t the missing piece as the Angels find themselves out of postseason contention for a fourth straight year.

Most teams in the Angels’ position might be dusting off their golf clubs and booking vacations by now, but they remain focused on finishing the season strong. And a source of pride to finish the season strong would be to ruin the Rangers’ playoff chances in the process. They didn’t do it Thursday as the Rangers rallied for a win, but have three more shots at it this weekend.

Asked if possibly spoiling the Rangers’ season was a goal, Hamilton said: “Of course. Absolutely nothing personal, but it’s not like we’re going to go out there and lay down the next four games. We’ve got to finish the season and it’s important to finish strong.

“It’s weird to be in this situation and be on the opposite side of trying to keep them out of the playoffs.”

Hamilton had been on the other side for the previous five seasons. He was arguably the best player during the Rangers’ best seasons when they went to the World Series in 2010 and 2011.

Hamilton struggled down the stretch last season, though, as the Rangers’ postseason run lasted a total of one game. Now, he, Wilson and the rest of their teammates are hoping to make the Rangers’ stay this year shorter than that.

“We’re not going to give up,” Angels slugger Mike Trout said. “We’re going to go out there and play our game and try to get some W’s and positive momentum going into the offseason.”

The Rangers understand it, too, and know they face a difficult task to stay in the playoff mix with a rival in town.

“Every team wants to be that [spoiler],” Texas shortstop Elvis Andrus said. “As soon as you step in the lines, you want to win.”

Angels first baseman Mark Trumbo downplayed the “spoiler” factor but acknowledged that the Angels aren’t quitting on the season until it’s over.

“We’re playing for our own pride more than trying to ruin someone else’s season,” Trumbo said. “We’re obviously not in the position we’d like to be in, but I think everyone is trying to finish the year on a good note.”

The Angels came to Arlington feeling good after taking two of three from the AL West champion A’s. Going into Thursday’s game, they were 16-8 this month and had won seven of their past 10.

Trumbo credited the pitching staff for the turnaround, which includes an impressive run by Wilson of late.

Wilson, who starts Friday, has gone 13-2 with a 2.94 ERA in his last 19 starts and had a nine-game winning streak at one point. But he has never fared well against his former team, going 1-2 with a 7.92 ERA in seven career starts.

Still, things can change on any given night, and it has for the Angels the past six weeks.

“Our team has definitely reinvented ourselves the last six weeks and hopefully we’re better now than at any point of the season,” manager Mike Scioscia said. “You want to go out there and win games no matter who you’re playing against.”

Drew Davison, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @drewdavison

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