When the Cubs lose 13-5 to the Nats, and much of that done to the bullpen, I say it’s time to turn to the AL West. Is it just me or is watching the LA Angels of Anaheim in August one of the more interesting baseball tourneys of late summer? The Angels ranked as best team 10 days ago, hovering 32 games over .500. Then in their last 10 games they’ve gone 3-7 against fellow contenders the Twins and Rays. The AL West is a vacation spot most teams would like to visit, and I gotta say, everyone’s October evaluations have to be calibrated to the no-competition zone the Angels call home. Best record, yes, but against who? After losing 9-0 tonight in Orange County Los Angeles, The OC Register‘s Bill Plunkett buys into the party line that the Angels are “scary good,” not that their division is scary suck-ass bad. Except for a three game set at The Cell next month, then three out here versus the Yankees, the Angels will coast to a division title on the likes of the As, Rangers, and Mariners.

ANAHEIM — Maybe the Angels peaked “ or maybe they just peeked.

Manager Mike Scioscia feigns ignorance of his team™s place in the standings. But since reaching a season-high 32 games over .500 10 days ago, the Angels have played like a team that knows very well it could moonwalk backwards to the tape and still finish first in the American League West.

The result has been their worst 10-day stretch of the season “ seven losses in their past nine games after a 9-0 beating by the Minnesota Twins Friday night.

Afterwards Scioscia called this stretch œprobably the worst baseball we™ve seen all year and closed the doors to the media for 18 minutes after the game (nearly double the stipulated ˜cooling-off™ period).

œThere™s nobody happy with the way we™re playing baseball right now, Scioscia said. œThat (losing a sense of urgency because of their large lead) is one of the things we™ve talked about. The challenge of this season is game to game, not where you are in the standings or whether you™re chasing someone or not.

œThat™s part of the challenge. But the way you get there is day to day, game to game. Anything short of that becomes a distraction. ¦ We need to filter out all distractions. That™s step one and that™s what we™re addressing.

Just a few days ago, Scioscia used that same word “ œdistraction “ to describe the standings.

œIt™s certainly under that umbrella, Scioscia said Friday, adding that concerns about œwhat role a player is playing or how many hits he’s getting also fall into that category.

Scioscia™s message to his team in that closed-door meeting could be summed up in œtwo words “ stay hungry, left-hander Joe Saunders said.

œDon™t be complacent, he said. œPlay the way we™re capable of playing every night. ¦ Don™t take anything for granted “ 15-game lead or whatever.

œHe said this team is scary good. For this to happen to us, it™s almost a fluke.