Los Angeles Angels Can Turn the Playoff Picture Upside Down Against Texas

Paul Francis Sullivan@@sullybaseballChief Writer ISeptember 18, 2012

ANAHEIM, CA - JULY 20: Mike Trout #27 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim hits a single in the first inning against the Texas Rangers at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on July 20, 2012 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images)
Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim are hanging around the playoff picture. They do not have a spot in the dance yet with 15 games to go. But ask current Angels' first baseman Albert Pujols about how a team can make a late run.

With 15 games left last year, Pujols' Cardinals were 4 1/2 games behind the Atlanta Braves for the wild card. The 2012 Angels are only three back right now.

Those Cardinals went 11-4 the rest of the way and would eventually be crowned World Series Champions.

Can a similar fate happen to the Angels?

The final 15 games begin tonight in Anaheim against the Texas Rangers.

The Angels will start their Cy Young contender, Jered Weaver tonight against the Rangers' Ryan Dempster. Both solid pitchers, but the advantage tonight should go to the Angels at home.

Former Ranger C.J. Wilson matches up against his former teammate Derek Holland in game two. The finale on Thursday has the Angels' Zack Greinke against Rangers' starter Yu Darvish.

Each game is a good matchup, but the Angels could certainly win two of three. And a series victory for the Halos could have repercussions throughout the American League.

First of all, a series win would keep the Angels in the wild card hunt as they chase Oakland and currently Baltimore for one of the two spots.

Secondly it would put additional pressure on the Rangers. Their division lead, which was 6 1/2 games on August 12, is down to three. With a hot Oakland team breathing down their neck and seven games head to head against the A's, the division title is by no means locked up.

The Rangers would certainly rather win the division than play a one game Wild Card playoff.

And finally, the Angels creeping back into the American League Wild Card hunt would put added pressure on the American League East race.

Tampa Bay is fading out of the picture, but the Orioles and Yankees are currently separated by half a game. If the Angels could pass the runner up of the Eastern Division, it would make the Baltimore and New York struggle more intense without a safety net for second place.

So for fans who are not from Texas or Orange County, the Angels and Rangers series might seem irrelevant to you.

But pay attention. The effects of the results will be felt clear across the country. And for anyone rooting for a wild finish in the American League, root for the Angels tonight.