ANAHEIM, Calif. —Mike Scioscia stalked the clubhouse with a soaked T-shirt and a bottle of champagne, looking for somebody to hug. Los Angeles Angels owner Arte Moreno was an easy target.
The Angels' two bosses reveled in another division title and another playoff berth Monday night, celebrating another year of success for a franchise with regular postseason reservations — and a few reservations about how they'll perform in October.
"It never gets tired, and it never gets old," said Scioscia, whose Angels are back in the playoffs for the sixth time in eight years after Monday night's 11-0 win over Texas.
The celebration was tinged with the bittersweet memory of Nick Adenhart, the young pitcher killed in a car accident in April. The raucous party also masked a discomfiting on-field fact: Although the Angels have become postseason stalwarts in Scioscia's decade running their dugout, winning five of the last six AL West titles, they've had precious little success once they reach the playoffs ever since their only championship.
Los Angeles has won just one playoff series since winning Game 7 of the 2002 World Series. The Boston Red Sox have knocked the Angels out of the first round in each of the past two years, and Los Angeles has won just one game in the clubs' three postseason series over the past five years.
So guess who is almost certain to be the Angels' opponent again in the division series opening early next week at Angel Stadium? Boston needs just one more win to clinch the AL wild card.
"We overcame a lot of obstacles, a lot more than anybody expected," Hunter said. "I definitely feel we haven't played our best yet, and this year is different. But if you want to put your money on Boston, go ahead, do it. We believe in ourselves."
"After the last few years, everyone feels that it's time for us to go to the next level," said Moreno, who celebrated alongside his players amid the plastic sheets covering the clubhouse. "We had a meeting about a week or 10 days after the end of last season, and we talked about what we needed to do to get better. Basically, that was our goal. I tell people all the time, 'Why should I be owning a team if I'm not trying to win?"'