2009 Postseason Smackdown: Optimist, Pessimist or Suicidal?

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CHILL THE CHAMPAGNE!!!
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Jered Weaver takes the mound against the A's this evening with the Angels (90-62) seemingly in the driver's seat for their third consecutive American League West title. The only Angel starter who hasn't missed a turn in the rotation, Weaver will be throwing on an extra day's rest. Nine of his team-high 15 wins have come at the Big A, where he has a 2.89 earned-run average. He should get plenty of backup from an Angels lineup that has the best record in baseball against lefties. And they're facing a weak one. Oakland starter Gio Gonzalez has failed to get out of the fourth inning in his last two starts, giving up eight earned runs and 10 hits in his last 6 2/3 innings against Cleveland and Minnesota. He has only five wins all season, and his last one came Aug. 10. The Angels' best hitter, Kendry Morales (his .303 batting average, 31 home runs and 99 RBIs lead the team), feasts on the A's, batting .538 with five homers and 12 RBIs in seven games versus Oakland since the All-Star break. Los Angeles of Anaheim's magic number is now four, so they could conceivably clinch at home this weekend. 

CORK THE CHAMPAGNE!!!

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Just over a month ago, the Halos seemed poised to win the World Series. Now, they are in the midst of a late-season slump, going 17-17 since Aug. 20. Weaver is trying to avoid losing three consecutive starts for the first time in his career. He recorded a 5.40 ERA in his last two starts after going 2-0 with a 1.40 ERA in his previous three. Though he's pitched well against the A's lately, he hasn't notched a win against them since Sept. 4, 2007. That won't change if he does not get run support. The Angels went 0-10 with runners in scoring position in Wednesday's 3-2 loss to the Yankees. They're batting .239 with runners in scoring position this month after hitting a major league-best .305 in such situations over the first five months of the season. "We went from a team that was setting the table, putting the ball in play, getting our share of hits with guys in scoring position and scoring runs, to a team that's really been down near the bottom this month," manager Mike Scioscia tells CBS Sports. "It's the same cast of characters, but some guys are obviously struggling with some things and not squaring balls up as well as they can." Morales is batting an anemic .091 with four RBIs with runners in scoring position this month after hitting .576 with 27 RBIs in those situations in August. As the Angels huff and puff down the stretch, they are going against the hottest team in baseball, as the A's have gone a major league-best 14-4 since Sept. 5.

AH, HELL, MAKE IT A WHISKEY INSTEAD!!!
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1995. Amid another offense-less, late-season slump, the Angels suffered the worst collapse in franchise history. In first place in the AL West by 11 games in August, the team went on an extended slide and wound up in a first-place tie with the surging Seattle Mariners. That led to a one-game playoff for the division title, which Lou Pinella's Mariners won handily, 9-1, thanks to Randy Johnson's arm. Taken together with the postseason disasters of 1982 and 1986, "The Collapse" was blamed by some on "The Curse," which was either caused by movie cowboy Gene Autry's ownership of the team or the legend that Anaheim Stadium was built on sacred Indian ground. Or, when it came to the '95 Halos, it could have been the previous off-season acquisition of free agent utility man Rex Hudler.

The Curse supposedly ended with the Angels' 2002 World Series championship, although The Hudler Curse remains to this day.
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