Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Angels Can Only Look Ahead; Team with the Best Record in Baseball Made an Early Exit from the Playoffs; BASEBALL PLAYOFFS

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Angels Can Only Look Ahead; Team with the Best Record in Baseball Made an Early Exit from the Playoffs; BASEBALL PLAYOFFS

Article excerpt

ANAHEIM, Calif. * After six months of steady play capped by a stellar September, the Los Angeles Angels earned the best record in baseball and their first playoff trip in five years.

And then that trip lasted only four days.

Once they've recovered from an unceremonious AL division series sweep at the smoking-hot hands of the Kansas City Royals, the Angels must figure out what they can salvage from a 98-win regular season and a brutally swift postseason exit.

Angels manager Mike Scioscia succinctly summed up his 15th season and the merciless nature of October: "(The Angels) played hard all season, and we had a rough three games."

And the Angels' high-priced hitters had the worst games of all for a team that scored only six runs in 31 postseason innings.

Mike Trout, the likely AL MVP, went one for 12 in his first postseason series. Albert Pujols, the $240 million slugger, was two for 12 with two RBIs.

Josh Hamilton was booed repeatedly by Angels fans when he returned for the postseason after sitting out most of September with various upper-body injuries. The $125 million left fielder with three years left on his contract went a miserable 0 for 13 against the Royals.

"We won a lot of ballgames, but in the playoffs, the slate is wiped clean," Hamilton said. "I don't think we played poorly."

Until the last 10 days, the AL West champions were an uncommonly resilient ballclub. Even after losing starting pitchers Garrett Richards and Tyler Skaggs to season-ending injuries in August while playing in one of baseball's best divisions, the Angels hadn't lost more than four straight games all year before they dropped the final three games of the regular season and their only three playoff games.

"You don't go in with any badge saying you won the most games, and you're certainly not going to get any points for that going into the playoffs," Scioscia said. "We did a lot of things well during the series. We just didn't finish some games off. Those guys got some big hits, and they beat us. …

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