By Pete Zarustica
There’s an old, old legend about the baseball season. It says that whoever’s first on the Fourth of July is likely to be the team that finishes the year in the lead.
Now, there’s a mountain of statistical evidence to refute that, but there’s probably some truth in the idea that how you’re doing at mid-season might be a good predictor – in general – of how the rest of the year might go.
If true, the prospects from the Los Angeles Angels are that of a roller coaster season. In the last two weeks, the Halos won four in a row, lost three straight, won two and – – as of Wednesday’s 6-2 win over the Texas Rangers, were still in fourth place in the American League West with a 44-43 record.
There were hopeful signs in Arlington. Mike Trout hit two home runs and drove in four runs. Overall, the team had 12 hits and did all that two days after the tragic and dispiriting death of pitcher Tyler Skaggs.
Andrelton Simmons, the team’s outstanding second baseman, is finally back in the lineup, and Kole Calhoun is continuing to hammer the long ball. Shohei Ohtani is hitting over .300 and Tommy La Stella is having an unexpected All-Star season.
The pitching has been a lot less encouraging, punctuated by injuries and bullpen collapses.
This has been an up-and-down season for the Orange County team. Hot streaks followed by cold snaps. Three wins, four losses. Four wins, three losses. The Halos are 11 games behind in the AL West and four games out of the AL wild card race, but there are five teams ahead of them.
Unless and until they can play more consistently and string together a warm streak that’s not followed by a deep slump, 2019 will look a lot like 2018. Almost a pretty good season.
The Angels will put their Fourth of July “prediction” in the books today (Thursday) when they play the Rangers again at 5 p.m. (Pacific time). Griffin Canning (3-4) will make the start for the Halos.