KANSAS CITY -- No matter how the 2012 season turns out for the Angels, Albert Pujols will always remember it as a special year.
Pujols and his wife, Deidre, welcomed their daughter, Esther Grace, into the world at 3:30 a.m. on Sunday. She's the slugger's fifth child and third daughter.
It was unsure whether or not Pujols was going to be able to make Sunday's series finale against the Royals, and manager Mike Scioscia's initial lineup didn't include Pujols. Instead, Erick Aybar was taking Pujols' typical place in the No. 3 spot.
"It was going to be a creative lineup, but Erick hits left-handed pitching. He's swinging the bat well," Scioscia said.
Pujols did get the start at designated hitter, where the Angels had planned on playing him due to his recovering right calf.
Greinke continues to dominate in September
KANSAS CITY -- Throughout his career, Zack Greinke has pitched extraordinarily well in the month of September, and this season seems to be no different.
Greinke put together his latest masterpiece on Saturday, allowing one run over 8 1/3 innings in the Angels' 3-2 loss to the Royals, Greinke's former team. In three September starts this season , Greinke is 2-0 with a 1.61 ERA. He's allowed just four runs in 22 1/3 innings.
It's a trend that he's set throughout his career, now in its ninth season. In 46 career appearances (43 starts) in the final month of the regular season, Greinke is 21-10 with a 2.96 ERA. He's won more games in September (with some regular-season October games peppered in) than in any other month. Only in the March/April combo month has he posted a lower career ERA of 2.40.
Angels manager Mike Scioscia said that the key to strong Septembers is that Greinke's stuff stays good from the start of the season to the end.
"I think at looking at Zack and just grading on his stuff, he maintains his stuff throughout a season, which is good, from what we've seen," Scioscia said. "We looked at him in a couple years, looked at him in Milwaukee last year. He seems to finish strong. You're always going to lose something, but I think the attrition rate with his stuff declining is a lot slower than some of the other pitchers we've seen. That's part of it. I don't think he's the only guy that finishes strongly, a lot of guys do. It's usually for different reasons, not always one thing. But I do think the biggest one is probably maintaining your stuff."
Another strong finish from Greinke is a great sign for the Angels, who are locked in the American League Wild Card race. And, given a rough string of starts shortly after he joined the Angels, this usual September Greinke is a welcome addition.
"What's impressed us about Zack is, first of all, his makeup," Scioscia said. "He doesn't get taken out of his game. He does everything from being able to repeat pitches when he's on, to fielding his position to controlling the running game. There's a great presence he brings when he's on the mound and is pitching to his capabilities, and we've seen that. He's been great in the clubhouse. He's got a good sense of humor, he gets along with guys and he loves to compete."
Halos in thick of expanded playoff format
KANSAS CITY -- The Angels are feeling the changes made to the postseason this year, chasing one of two Wild Card spots in the American League.
The extra berth could mean an extended life for the Angels this season, though it also means there are more teams vying for a spot in the playoffs.
"I think any time you put more teams in the running, it becomes a little bit more difficult," catcher Chris Iannetta said. "It's very tough to overtake more than one team. If you're looking to overtake one team and you play them a few times, the path is a little bit more manageable. When there are a lot of teams in front of you, it's a little tougher. So it definitely makes it more interesting when there's a lot of teams involved."
Manager Mike Scioscia had his own take on how the changes are playing out.
"I don't know if I would use the word interesting," Scioscia said. "There's definitely an extra life line that could give a team at least an opportunity to play their way into the playoffs. I think what we're seeing is what we expected: a whole new division that opens up the last month of the season. I don't know if it's good or bad that we're in that division, because you'd certainly like to be leading your own division as opposed to trying to get your way into have an opportunity to win and make the playoffs. But we are where we are. You're still in the hunt."
And what of the new one-game playoff between the two Wild Card winners?
"Coming down to one game is better than staying at home," Scioscia said.
Losing on back-to-back jacks a first in team history
KANSAS CITY -- Following Saturday night's shocking loss, in which the Royals connected on back-to-back home runs to walk off against the Angels, Zack Greinke wondered if it had ever happened before.
Well, to the Angels, it hadn't.
According to Elias, Saturday was the first time in franchise history that the Angels lost a game on back-to-back homers. It was just the third loss of the season that came when the Angels led after eight innings.
"That was pretty amazing. I don't think I've ever seen back-to-back homers to walk off or anything like that. I don't know if it's ever happened," Greinke said. "You don't see that, I don't think, ever."
Vinnie Duber is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.