2014 Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
2014 Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim / Franchise: Los Angeles Angels / BR Team Page
Clinched Division: September 15, 2014, vs. Seattle Mariners
Managed by Mike Scioscia
The season of the 2014 Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim started on a very bizarre note. On Opening Day, March 31st, the Angels decided to pay tribute to two of the franchise's all-time greats, Vladimir Guerrero and Don Baylor, the only two men to win the MVP Award for the team. Guerrero was asked to sign a one-day contract in order to officially retire as an Angel, and to throw the ceremonial first pitch while Baylor, back with the team as a hitting coach after many years as part of other organizations, was to catch him. Things went freakishly wrong when Baylor bent his leg awkwardly to catch Vlad's slow toss and somehow managed to break his femur bone; he had to be evacuated to a local hospital to obtain medical attention. After that poor omen, the Angels went on to lose the game, 10-3, to the Seattle Mariners. Minor league hitting coordinator Paul Sorrento was added to the coaching staff while Baylor recovered, but the Angels also lost their second game, 8-3, to the Mariners.
On July 7th, the Angels defeated the Toronto Blue Jays, 5-2, for their 5th straight win and 11 straight at home. This evened the franchise's all-time record at 4,272-4,272 with 3 ties and marked the first time they had been at .500 since starting off their inaugural 1961 season 1-1. With a 4-2 win over the Boston Red Sox on August 18th, the Angels took sole possession of first place in the AL West for the first time, a half-game ahead of the Oakland Athletics; the two teams also had the two best records in the major leagues. For the Angels, the climb to the top had been a matter of winning steadily for three months, after being 17-17 on May 9th; bizarrely, they had only been 6-6 over the two weeks preceding their taking over first place, but had benefited from a rare poor stretch by the A's. The optimism was soon darkened when pitcher Garrett Richards, who had emerged as the team's best starter, suffered a season-ending injury two days later, tearing his left patella tendon while trying to cover first base. He was 13-4, 2.61 on the year, and was the second starting pitcher to go down for the count, following Tyler Skaggs whose season had been ended by Tommy John surgery at the end of July. In spite of the injury, the Angels completed a four-game sweep of the Red Sox on August 21st. They then put some distance between themselves and the A's when they swept them in a four-game series at home August 28-31, thereby increasing their division lead to five games. The third game featured no less than eight pitchers combining to throw a 2-0 shutout, tying a major league mark, while in the clincher, rookie Matt Shoemaker improved to 14-4 in an 8-1 trouncing of the Angels' main rivals.
By early September, the Angels were looking to score a knockout punch over the reeling A's. A 7-3 win over the Texas Rangers on September 11th made it 8 wins in a row and 14 in their last 16 games, to increase their lead over Oakland to a full 10 games. The streak reached 10 wins before ending on September 14th, by which time the magic number was down to 4. The next day, became the first team in the majors to clinch a postseason berth when they defeated the Seattle Mariners, 8-1, behind another great performance by Shoemaker. They clinched the AL West title two days later when they defeated the Mariners again, 5-0, with C.J. Wilson setting the tone from the mound.
However, after that tremendous season, the postseason was a huge let-down. Facing the Kansas City Royals in the ALDS, they were swept in three games, with the Royals winning Games 1 and 2 in extra innings at Angels Stadium, before completing the sweep with an 8-3 win in Game 3. The Angels' big guns failed to be heard, as Mike Trout, who would be named the winner of the AL MVP Award after the season, when 1 for 12, while Albert Pujols was 2 for 12 and Josh Hamilton 0 for 13.
Awards and Honors
- All-Stars: Erick Aybar and Mike Trout
- AL MVP Award: Mike Trout
- AL Silver Slugger Award: Mike Trout (OF)
- ESPN: "Angels clinch first playoff sport since 2009 with rout of Mariners", ABCChicaago.com, September 16, 2014