The Angels completed the first step in hopes of winning the World Series this year on Monday night in Anaheim, shutting out the Texas Rangers 11-0 to take the AL West and secure a first round matchup against the hated Red Sox of Boston. While I would have expected more from the Rangers, especially considering the problems they have put us through this year, it was nice to see an offensive explosion and a masterful pitching performance from Ervin Santana. I had great seats myself right next to the right field foul pole, and after the game was put away by the 3rd inning with the Angels leading 7-0, even Bobby Abreu was having fun with the fans. I stopped counting after Bobby waved and acknowledged more than 20 different fans offering praise and congratulations to the team. Even one fan went as far as promising to buy Bobby a shot of Petron after the game, to which Abreu reacted by jumping up and down and running in place as fast as he could. It was a great night.
Vlad Guerrero and Kendry Morales got the Angels out to the right kind of start; Guerrero doubling home a run in the first folllowed by a 2 run shot by Morales to dead center field to stake the Halos to an early 3-0 lead. Abreu himself came within a home run of hitting for the cycle.
Santana pitched masterfully throughout, getting out of a few jams with slick double plays turned by Morales at first, and ended up giving up only 7 hits and striking out 2 to get the shutout. But the story wasn’t Santana tonight folks, as the win finally let the Angels take a breath and celebrate the division title despite the adversity faced this season. It was especially nice to see the club come back on the field about 10 minutes after disappearing into the clubhouse for a champagne celebration, as the club came back out and jogged to Nick Adenhart’s jersey on the right center field wall and paid their respects. For those of you who don’t have a team to root for this October, the Angels deserve your support.
The club now has the remainder of the season to rest up and get their rotation in order for the first round, which begins in a little over a week. Be sure to check out my breakdown of the first round series against Boston and what I feel the Halos need to do to finally get past these Sox.
Until next time Angel fans.
Wednesday afternoon saw the Angels Joe Saunders make his first start since coming off the disabled list, and by all accounts, looks to have not only his old form back, but his velocity as well. Saunders reached 95 MPH at times, on his way to picking up the victory, despite Brian Fuentes attempt at hitting all Tiger batters he faced in the 9th, he did manage to pick up the save. Fuentes nailed 2 Tigers in the inning, the only runners that reached base, before getting the final out and notching another save under his belt. Saunders only went 5 innings, but they were good quality innings. The lefty struck out 6, only allowing 4 hits and 2 runs, courtesy of Adam Everett, who hit a 2 run homer off of Saunders in the 5th.
Saunders start wasn’t the end of the lists of firsts for the Halos on this 100 degree day in Anaheim. Torii Hunter hit his first home run since his return from the disabled list, a 2 run shot off of Tigers starter and former Dodger castoff Edwin Jackson in the first inning to get the Angels off to a much needed good start. The Halos also stole 5 bags off of the Tigers and Gerald Laird, who leads the league in % of runners thrown out attempting to steal. Chone Figgins led the way with 2 swipes of his own, followed by Erick Aybar, Bobby Abreu, and Maicer Izturis who each stole a bag. Figgins was a busy man on Wednesday, collecting 2 hits and a walk as well.
After Saunders 5 innings, the bullpen again, came in and provided shutout relief. Highlighted by Kevin Jepsen, who threw 1 1/3 perfect innings, and was the bridge to Fuentes in the 9th. With each outing that Jepsen comes in and delivers, it is becoming more and more apparent that this guy is not only going to be heavily counted on for the rest of the season, the playoffs, and hopefully for years to come. Imagine next year, with a healthy Scot Schields, the bullpen future again looks very bright for the halos.
This series, which the Tigers took 2 games to 1, could possibly be a first round playoff matchup – as long as the Texas Rangers can grab a lead and hold on the wild card, the Halos would take on the Tigers, and the Rangers would get the Yankees. The Tigers showed in this series that they have higher quality starting pitching compared to the Angels, with both Justin Verlander, Edwin Jackson, and rookie Rick Porcello looking pretty strong. Joe Saunders and his ability to maintain this newfound form, will be key for the club. A healthy Saunders, combined with John Lackey, Jered Weaver, and Ervin Santana are essential for the club to not only secure the AL West, but to get out and beyond the first round of the playoffs this year. Starting pitching has definitely been the sore spot for the club, as since the All Star break, the club has only had 10 quality starts out of 39 games. Yes, that’s barely a 25% rate of quality starting pitching. One would have to wonder, with the way Texas has been playing, if the Halos offense wasn’t playing out of it’s mind and carrying the club, how far back they could actually be in the division right now.
Next up Halo fans, the club welcomes the basement tenants of the AL West, the Athletics. Don’t be fooled, these Athletics always seem to provide plenty of 1 run games, and always give us a tough time. Tomorrow night’s game will mark the team’s hall of fame induction of former greats Brian Downing and Chuck Finley.
Until next time Angel fans.
Well, for all you baseball fans hoping to catch a classic pitchers duel, you got one for the first half of the game. From there though, was the complete opposite. This attempt at a pitchers duel was to be between the Tigers Justin Verlander and the Angels Jered Weaver and while they had one going through the first 5 innings, it all ended there. Going into their half of the 6th, the Tigers were nursing a 3-0 lead. 3 pitchers and 3 outs later, the scoreboard now read 10-0 in favor of the visiting team. The inning was highlighted by a Carlos Guillen 3 run home run and a 2 run double by Miguel Cabrera, who had homered earlier off of Weaver. The Halos mounted a mini rally of their own in the home half of the sixth, scoring 4 runs to pull within 10-4, and a 3 run home run by Bobby Abreu in the 8th pulled the score to 10-7, but it just wasn’t in the cards tonight. Kudos though, to the Angels, by battling battling back down 10-0 to at least make the game respectable.
While the game was close, prior to the 6th inning, I was thinking to myself how this is a perfect example of the “good pitching always defeats good hitting” phrase always thrown around. Really though, the phrase should be 99 MPH fastballs courtesy of flamethrower Justin Verlander will beat any kind of hitting, even a team such as the Angels, a team that saw 8 of their starting 9 have averages over .300, and the only one who didn’t, Mike Napoli, was hitting .294.
It should be said, that today was the birthday of Angel pitcher Nick Adenhart, and the start tonight for Jered Weaver, who was to be roommates with Adenhart before the horrific accident that claimed his life, was going to be extra special for him. Unfortunately, things didn’t quite work out the way Weaver would have wanted.
In the end, the Tigers offense proved to be just too much for the Angels pitching. Having just returned from a 10 game road trip going 6-4, and with no day off, you could tell the team was a little tired. And with the way the Tigers offense was so precise, so on point, you would have sworn that these Tigers got a little special training from our friends in Las Vegas.
So, now the Angels lead sits at 5 games, as Texas was off tonight. Tomorrow night, John Lackey will get his 100th career victory as he takes on former Angel Jarrod Wasburn, who was been a total and complete bust since coming over from Seattle at the trading deadline. Let’s hope Wash doesn’t find the form that made him so successful earlier in the season.
Until next time Angel fans.
This wasn’t at all what Sean O’Sullivan had planned as he prepared to take the mound against the Blue Jays in game one of this three game series. The rookie right hander didn’t record an out in the 2nd inning, and left having yielded 4 runs to the Blue Jays as the Jays went on to win, 5-4. The outing was yet another in a newly formed trend of poor starts from Angels rookie starting pitchers lately. Granted Trevor Bell did pick up his first major league win his last turn around in Cleveland, but it was far from pretty. The bullpen did the best they could with solid relief coming in the form of Matt Palmer (who may see himself getting O’Sullivan’s turn in the rotation next time) and Jose Arredondo, who limited the Jays to only 1 run for the rest of the game. The Angels offense wasn’t much better, at least through the first 8 innings. The bats appeared to have taken the night off for the second night in a row, only managing one run, but Mike Napoli provided an ulcer building moment for Jays manager Cito Gaston, hitting a 3 run home run in the Angels half of the ninth to bring the Halos within a run. Casey Janssen would induce a game ending groundout by pinch hitter Bobby Abreu to notch the save and the victory for Toronto with Howie Kendrick on 2nd base.
Yorba Linda native Marc Rzepczynski (last time I will type that name – haha) silenced the Angels bats for 6 1/3 innings, only allowing 3 hits and 1 run to pick up the victory. After somewhat of a shaky first inning, he found his form – and his slider and pitched well. Adam Lind hit his 29th home run off of O’Sullivan in the first to help start the Jays attack.
Tomorrow, Ervin Santana will get the start in an afternoon game, and look to get the Angels off of this 2 game skid. He will be opposed by Scott Richmond, as both pitchers will look to pick up their 7th win of the season.
The Rangers lost in Tampa Bay, so the Angels lead still sits at 5.5 games. Elsewhere around the league, the Yankees continue beating anyone and everyone, outscoring the hated Red Sox in a run scoring extravaganza, 20-11. The Red Sox appear to be getting some bullpen relief in the form of Mets lefty Billy Wagner, who is just now getting back from a left elbow injury suffered nearly 12 months ago. The Red Sox hold a slim 1 game lead in the Wild Card over the Rangers. Let’s see if Ervin can build off of his recent success and provide the club with a much needed quality start.
Until next time Angel fans.
The Texas Rangers were rumored to be involved in trade talks for Blue Jays Ace Roy Halladay. However, the trade never went through as Nolan Ryan of the Rangers was unwilling to part with young left handed starting pitcher Derek Holland. On Sunday afternoon, the Angels and their fans got to see, first hand, why Ryan wasn’t willing to part with Holland. The Rangers lefty carried a no hitter into the 6th inning, ulitmately getting the complete game shutout while only allowing 3 hits. The win, allowed the Rangers to not only cut the Angels lead to 3.5 games in the division, but also continued their dominance over the Halos, taking yet another series.
Angels starter John Lackey definitely didn’t deserve his fate today. He threw a career high 131 pitches, but even more, witnessed one of the poorest defensive outings by the club this year. A mental error in communication by seldom used first base fill in Robb Quinlan on a ground ball to second, (leaving first base uncovered) allowed an inning to continue that was later capped off by a Bobby Abreu error that allowed the first two Ranger runs to score in the game. Lackey ended up going 6 2/3 to earn the loss.
Up next for the Halos will be Joe Maddon and his Rays. The Rays, pretty much all but out in terms of winning the AL East, are still just 1.5 games behind wild card leading Boston and Texas. Although they just completed a frustrating series in Seattle, losing 2 of 3. Typically though, the Rays play the Angels tough, and with the Angels definitely showing signs of coming back to earth after their white-hot start post all star break, you can be sure this is going to be a fiercely competetive series. Matt Garza opposed Sean O’sullivan in game one on Monday night.
Until next time Angel fans
The Angels, like Stella, finally got their groove back. For the Angels though, it didn’t require them to take a vacation to Jamaica., It did though, come at the hands of White Sox starter John Danks who served as the Angel punching bag, allowing 3 home runs, and finished the day lasting 6 innings, giving up 7 runs as the Halos took the finale of the three game series and avoided the sweep, beating Chicago 9-5. The Angels flexed a little muscle in the form of home runs by Jeff Mathis, Vladimir Guerrero (welcome back Vladdy!), Bobby Abreu (the 250th of his career) and Erick Aybar. For a team than managed a combined 11 hits in the first two games of this series, the Halos managed 11 hits alone in their victorious effort Thursday afternoon. Along with his home run, Aybar had another 2 hits, finishing the game going 3-4 scoring twice and driving in 2. The Halos were also busy on the basepaths, swiping 4 bags, including 2 by Chone Figgins. The Angels were also caught stealing 3 times, which goes to show that Angels skipper Mike Scioscia wanted to let his team make their own breaks today, and it paid off.
Ervin Santana got the victory, improving his record to 4-6. The righty threw 6 quality innings that looked better on the field than in the box score. The big blow was a 3 run home run by Jayson Nix in the 2nd, and other than that, was in complete control throughout. Jason Bulger folllowed with 2 innings of perfect relief, and Kevin Jepsen wrapped things up in the 9th despite a solo home run by Dewayne Wise.
The Angels wrapped up their road trip with an impressive 4-2 mark, however the impressiveness was nearly all in Minnesota, as the team struggled mightily in the windy city. With the 2nd place Texas Rangers coming into town for the biggest series of the year, the Halos hope to leave their struggles behind in Chicago.
Game 1 will see Angels lefty Joe Saunders take on Scott Feldman. Saunders, who has had his fair share of struggles all year long, knows that this is going to be his biggest start of the year, as the Rangers, needless to say, have had the Angles number all year long. A sweep by the Angels could nearly drive the final nail in the Rangers coffin. The Rangers won today, keeping pace with the Angels as their lead sits at 4.5 games. Angel fans, hope your seat belts are ready, as this weekend is going to be good.
Until next time Angel fans.
This game just didn’t feel right from the beginning. The White Sox thwarted the Angels attempt to win their 6th in a row, taking the first game of this series 5-4. In a game in which the Angels best starter and best chance for a win in this series was throwing, the Angels couldn’t get the victory. Scott Podsednik was the hero tonight for the Sox, providing the walk off magic by singling in Jayson Nix to give the White Sox the victory on Tuesday night.
This game, although unlikely at first, turned into a pitchers duel. Angel starter John Lackey, went 8 solid innings, giving up only 4 runs on 5 hits, while striking out 8. However, Big John was in a bit of a giving mood early on, giving up solo home runs in each of the first two innings; to rookie Gordon Beckham in the 1st and Carlos Quentin in the 2nd. White Sox starter Jose Contreras only gave up one hit of his own, however he ended up walking five and uncorked three wild pitches, only lasting 2 2/3 innings before Sox manager Ozzie Guillen sent him to an early shower. Due to Contreras’ wildness, a warning was issued to both sides by home plate umpire Joe West after Contreras nearly beaned Vladimir Guerrero in the 3rd. This was a great disappointment to me, which meant my chances of watching John Lackey drill A.J. Pierzynkski in the back with a heater were next to none. Sorry A.J., some people just never forget….
Oh, and another classy move from AJ was when he tried in vein to get the team to appeal Chone Figgins tagging up to score on a sac fly in the 5th. Replays showed he clearly left on time, and showed again, how much of a horses *** Pierzynski can be. The game itself had a bit of an odd feeling to it, as Vladimir Guerrero made his long awaited return from the disabled list, and to be honest, I wasn’t really even excited when I saw his name in the lineup. The reason being, is because his presence in the lineup put an end to the great chemistry and streaky hitting that we had been seeing since the All Star Break. A lineup full of patient yet potent hitters now had a hitter smack in the middle of the lineup who has no patience. Vlad swings at everything. He’s even been known to swing at bags of peanuts as they’re tossed from the peanut guy to an expecting fan. With Vlad occupying the DH role, Mike Napoli was given the night off, which meant the club would be without one of their most reliable hitters of late. Also, in addition to the oddity of this game, it appears that the White Sox dedicated this entire series to Mark Buehrle in commemoration of the perfect game that was thrown weeks ago. No, Angel fans, the Soap Channel didn’t gain control of Major League Baseball today, sorry. Maybe I’m alone in how lame I find this to be, if you’re going to dedicate a series to anyone, how about dedicating it to one of the thousands of troops we have overseas?
Getting back to the game, the White Sox bullpen was the real reason they won. D.J. Carrasco came in to relieve Jose Contrereas, and threw 4 innings of 2 hit ball, only allowing 1 run. Matt Thornton pitched a scoreless 9th and picked up his 6th win of the season.
As for the Halos, Mr. Patient, Bobby Abreu had a single and drove in 3. Other than him though, the Angels as a team only managed 5 lousy hits. Perhaps someone should check, just to be safe, that the bats used tonight were in fact the same ones used in Minnesota.
Game 2 of the series, tomorrow night will see Sean O’sullivan, fresh off of his no hitter in Triple A, take on Gavin Floyd. Last time I looked in the mirror I wasn’t Mike Scioscia, but if I were Mike, I would march out the same lineup that has been beating up on opponents on a regular basis, and that means sitting Vladdy. Torii Hunter should be headed to Arkansas for a rehab assignment on Thursday, and should be back by Sunday or Monday. Although Matthews has filled in admirably for Hunter, it will be such a lift to get him back.
Until next time Angel fans.