Game 1: Mariners 4, Angels 3 | Game 2: Mariners 2, Angels 1 (F/11) | Game 3: Mariners 4, Angels 0
Runs Scored: 4
Runs Allowed: 10
Final Record: 98-64 | AL West Champs!
Up Next: Thursday vs KC/OAK
I suppose it would have been nice to end the regular season on a high note for a change — the Halos have been swept in their final series three out of the last four years, and haven’t won one since 2009 — but I guess we’ll just have to make do with the Angels having the best record in baseball, nearly trolling the A’s out of the postseason altogether, and avoiding the abject horror that is a coin-flip game. I think I’m cool with that.
Given how well the other 156 games went, bookending the season with series sweeps at the hands of the Mariners is undeniably a bit weird – if all you knew about the Halos’ 2014 season was that they were undone by Seattle to start and end it, you wouldn’t be thought crazy if you surmised that the rest of the season didn’t go so well. (You’d be wrong, of course, but not crazy.) All teams have unexpected weak spots, though, even the great ones. And for whatever reason, this year the Angels’ kryptonite was a Northwest shade of green. The M’s were the only opponent to outscore the Halos by more than four runs this year — they finished at +26 (!) — and were one of just four teams to have any sort of positive run differential at all against the club. As much as many fans wanted Oakland to fall into a tie with Seattle and lose a play-in game, perhaps it’s for the best that the Mariners are not a potential playoff opponent.
What’s most remarkable to me about the bookend sweeps is not that they happened — baseball will forever be weird — but that these more-or-less identical events were accompanied by such disparate reactions from fans. The season-opening sweep was met with an overwhelming sense of impending doom wrought by four seasons of unfulfilled promise – allowing 26 runs in three days to a team that bats Justin Smoak in the clean-up spot will do that to you – while this latest one was met with a sort of ambivalence; a strangely confident collective indifference. In six months, the atmosphere around the franchise went from “Oh my god, fire everyone immediately” to some variation of “This is so much fun! Let’s tank so the A’s have to sweat it out!” That fortunes can change so dramatically so quickly is one of the very best aspects of sports, and is why I’ll be right back here next year, win or lose.