Angels Manager Mike Scioscia would like to see three, five-team divisions… (Jeff Kowalsky / EPA )
Reporting from Oakland — It appears someone in the commissioner's office was listening to Manager Mike Scioscia's heavy criticism of this year's schedule.
Major League Baseball released the 2012 schedule Wednesday, and 22 of the Angels' final 31 games will be against American League West teams. Scioscia is a strong proponent of teams' opening and closing the season against teams in their division.
The interleague portion of the schedule will pit the Angels against the National League West, with home-and-away sets against the Dodgers, road series at San Diego and Colorado and home series against Arizona and San Francisco.
That will help reduce air travel for a team that flew 6,800 miles on one four-city trip this season, to Seattle, New York (Mets), Florida and back to Los Angeles to play the Dodgers.
The Angels will travel 45,167 miles next season, third-most in baseball behind Oakland and Seattle. They traveled more than 48,000 miles this season.
The Angels will open 2012 with a three-game series at home against Kansas City beginning April 6 before going on a six-game trip to Minnesota and New York to play the Yankees.
They have two series in Yankee Stadium and two at Detroit but only one at Tampa Bay and Boston. They play the Red Sox for the first time Aug. 21.
The Angels will play 16 of their last 25 games at home, closing the season with a six-game trip at Texas and Seattle.
Scioscia, who as a member of baseball's special committee for on-field matters has considerable input on issues such as scheduling, won't be satisfied until realignment produces three five-team divisions in each league and even more division games.
A logical fit would be to add an NL team such as Houston to the AL West, but the earliest that could happen is 2013.
"We need schedule reform that coincides with realignment and a more balanced test for each team within its division, because that's the way this whole championship schedule is set up, on division rivalries," Scioscia said.
"We have 13 games left, and we're going to Baltimore and Toronto to play half of our games in a pennant race against teams that are not in our division. I know we're in a four-team division, but it should not be this patchwork."
Many closers work their way into the job, serving as setup men for a year or two before moving to the pressure-packed ninth inning, much like Troy Percival and Francisco Rodriguez did for the Angels.
But Jordan Walden is further proof that managers won't hesitate using an untested reliever to close if he has the right stuff. Walden, who notched his 31st save Wednesday, is the fifth rookie closer since 2000 to record at least 30 saves.
"There is a seasoning that does have to take place," Scioscia said, "but with some young guys, their talent blows right through that, and they achieve."
Wednesday's win, only the third in nine games in Oakland, marked the 39th time the Angels have held an opponent to one run or no runs, tied with the Atlanta Braves for the most in baseball. … The Angels are guaranteed a winning record for the seventh time in eight seasons.