09/21/11 7:14 PM ET
Halos hoping for help from Jays, Yanks
By Lyle Spencer / MLB.com
The Angels trail Texas by five games with only eight left to play for both teams, putting the Rangers' magic number at four. Boston's Wild Card lead has receded to 3 1/2 games over the Angels, who were a game behind the Rays in a three-way race heading into Tuesday night's doubleheader nightcap in New York.
Toronto will be in St. Petersburg engaging the Rays this weekend while the Red Sox, trying to pull themselves out of a September swoon, visit the Bronx to battle the Yankees.
Boston finishes the season with three games at Baltimore while Tampa Bay will entertain the Yankees in its final series.
The Angels have gone 19-11 since Mark Trumbo's walk-off homer against Texas' Mike Adams on April 18. They finish at home, where they are 44-31, with three against the A's and three against the Rangers.
Even if Texas clinches the division and the Angels are still in the Wild Card hunt by the time they meet on Monday night, the Rangers figure to be motivated. They're running neck-and-neck with Detroit for home-field advantage in the best-of-five AL Division Series, the Yankees having virtually wrapped up one of the spots.
Blue Jays fans letting Wells have it
TORONTO -- A Blue Jays centerpiece for a decade, Vernon Wells was given a warm reception in August when he returned to Rogers Centre for the first time in an Angels uniform.
The response the second time around -- six weeks later -- has been less touchy and feely, and more cranky and crabby. How often do the fans in the left field area raise their voices in commentary for the Jays' former center fielder?
"The whole time," Wells said, having produced a homer and double in Tuesday night's victory. "It's impressive. From the first inning to the ninth inning, it's nonstop. I've heard everything. I don't expect anything less now that I'm on another team.
"Maybe they should put some of that energy into their own team, instead of putting a lot of energy into hating."
It should be pointed out that there are rules against wearing headphones on the field. Wells doesn't have much choice in hearing the voices. The sparse crowds in these late-season games give individuals a private stage to do their comedy club routines.
"He's getting booed, too," said Torii Hunter, who has experienced unconditional love when he returns to Minnesota, his MLB home for nine years before joining the Angels. "I really don't understand it.
"He got traded. It's not like he asked them to get rid of him. I left as a free agent. What he did [at the plate Tuesday night], that's what you always want to do on another team's field. But I'm pretty sure he had some extra motivation."
Wells buried himself statistically with a terrible start, getting out of his game in an effort to unload home runs rather than staying within himself and trying to smack line drives to all fields. Back in a groove, he's been pounding shots down the stretch, producing a .313 average in his past 25 games with 15 extra-base hits (six homers, six doubles and three triples)
"Even when he got hot in May," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said, "he exhaled a bit, then totally lost his timing and was back to forcing some things.
"The last 20 games you're seeing a guy use the whole field, get in good counts, take walks. This is what Vernon brings. Hopefully, it'll be a growth experience for him. We need him down the stretch, swinging the way he can.
"I don't think his season was a total rewrite. He's going to be in range of his home run [projection]. His other numbers aren't what we expect, but I think he's going to be more productive next year, for sure."
Hunter looking good as Gold again
TORONTO -- Torii Hunter checked his ego at the door 13 months ago when he willingly moved from center field -- where he'd spent his entire Major League career -- to right in order to accommodate the arrival of the young and gifted Peter Bourjos.
The move has turned out to be pure gold for everyone concerned -- including Hunter.
With the new rules placed in effect this year by Rawlings, sponsor of the Gold Glove Awards, Hunter is well positioned to win for the 10th time, joining an elite group headed by Willie Mays and Roberto Clemente.
For the first time, players will be confined to left, center and right designations, meaning the days of three center fielders winning Gold Gloves are over.
There's a good chance Bourjos will join Hunter, emerging from a loaded American League center field pack.
Hunter, according to calculations by the Fielding Bible on actasports.com, has saved an estimated 15 runs this season, leading all big league right fielders. Ichiro Suzuki, who has monopolized the award for 10 seasons, has slipped to only two runs saved.
"Torii has made a switch that could have been difficult seamless," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "He's made sensational catches, stopped first to third and has had more assists  than any time in his career."
Bourjos is in contention with such notable center fielders as Detroit's Austin Jackson and Boston's Jacoby Ellsbury. Jackson, the Fielding Bible estimates, has saved 20 runs, Bourjos 17 and Ellsbury 12.
In Wednesday's edition of the Toronto Sun, veteran baseball writer Bob Elliott quoted two veteran scouts -- one at work in MLB since the '50s, the other since the '60s -- calling Bourjos the "best defensive center fielder" they've ever seen.
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.