The Angels game between the Twins on Saturday afternoon can best be described as a much anticipated boxing match. Both sides jabbing at each other early, as the Twins jump ahead 2-0 after Jason Kubel’s third inning home run. However, the Angels were all business to start the fourth round, I mean inning. Chone Figgins came out swinging, landing a sweet left uppercut that ended up in the right field stands for his third homer of the season. Angel after Angel followed, landing jabs and various combinations of their own. Twins starter Nick Blackburn, who had set the first nine Angels down, was quickly on the ropes and throwing a tantrum in the dugout as the knockout blow was provided by the mighty Maicer Izturis, who landed a left uppercut of his own, this time off of R.A. Dickey, a three run shot to right that sealed the Twins fate, and secured the 8th victory in a row for the Halos, as they went on to win 11-5. Twins skipper Ron Gardenhire remarked that the Twins needed to “get back” to their brand of baseball, and that, in a nutshell, describes exactly what the Angels do to you. The Angles make you play their game, bottom line. They do this in the form of going 1st to 3rd relentlessly, getting runners over when needed, and attacking you in waves that would make killer bees look mild. Combine this with a newfound solid bullpen and decent starting pitching, and you get a club that is on an absolute tear. Let’s not mention that really all that you hear about in the media is how hot the Phillies and Yankees are. The Angels like it this way. And so do their fans.
Matt Palmer pushed his record to 8-1, after getting his first start after many bullpen appearances. Palmer, in usual Palmer fashion, did enough to keep the team in the game, and again was awarded like an only child of rich parents on Christmas, with an abundance of offensive support. The bullpen as a whole, did the job, minus Shane Loux who is still getting a little rust off after a long stay on the DL, and in a game like this, worked out great for the Halos.
On the offensive side of things, other than the home runs by Figgins and Izturis, (who had two hits each, respectively) Erick Aybar and Howie Kendrick each added two hits of their own. Not to be outdone, Bobby Abreu collected three htis. The only Angel starter not to have a hit, was Gary Matthews Jr.
However Angel fans, all may not be 100% well with the team. With the Phillies apparently not willing to meet the trade demands of the Blue Jays in their attempt to ship Roy Halladay, the Angels now find themselves as potential landing site for the Jays ace. It is rumored that players that the Jays want in return, range from Erick Aybar, Mike Napoli, Joe Saunders and possibly Jered Weaver. Would Tony Reagins dare ship away the likes of Aybar, Napoli, or Weaver? Granted Halladay will be under contract until the end of next year, so we won’t be renting a player which was the case with Mark Teixeira last year, but, with the way these young players have become such an integral part of the success this year, it would be very hard to see them go. I personally think the Angels should operate from the standpoint that the Jays will never get as much as they can for Halladay as they will right now. With that being said, if the Blue Jays can’t find someone to meet their trade demands, and have to hold onto him, Halladay’s value this time next year will be much, much less. Halladay has already told the club that he isn’t going to sign an extension and will test free agency, so they need to get rid of him. They need to trade him now. There is no need for the Halos to meet their demands because if they don’t trade him, the Blue Jays will ultimately lose out in the end. Plus, I would like to see what these Angels can do, given the chance. Imagine if Ervin Santana and Joe Saunders can get their act together and provide some much needed consistency to the starting rotation.
The Angels go for the series sweep tomorrow with Minnesota’s Anthony Swarzak opposing Ervin Santana. Santana, might I add, is still searching for his first home win of the year. Yes, his first home win.
Until next time Angel fans.
The Angels had no business winning this game. Down 3-0 before the seats were warm, and down 5-3 heading into the 9th both serve as example enough. Problem is though, someone forot to tell the Halos. Before the night was over, the Angels would have earned their 6th victory in a row, and their 31st comeback win of the year, stunning Joe Nathan and the Twins.
The Twins, who got beat around like a bad little league team during their last series against Oakland, looked more like the Twins of old in game one of this four game series Thursday night in Anaheim. Jerrod Weaver managed to recover from allowing 3 runs in the first, finishing with 7 gutsy innings, and putting the club in position to have a chance down the stretch. Two of those three runs in the first, came courtesy of Angel killer Jason Kubel, who hit his 17th home run of the season, a two run shot deep into the right field seats. The Angels were held in check by Twins starter Scott Baker for the first four innings, although the Halos returned the favor, putting Baker through a marathon 30+ pitches in the fifth which would end up being his last, as the Angels scored twice, cutting the lead to 3-2. Each team tallied single runs in the 6th, and that’s the way the game stayed until the ninth. The Angels bullpen, which had been nearly perfect on the road trip, allowed a run to the twins, courtesy of Kevin Jepson.
And then the mighty Joe Nathan trotted in from the bullpen to slam the door shut. The Angels however, pushed back, and how fitting, that Gary Matthews Jr and Howie Kendrick provided both two out RBI singles to tie the game. These two Halos in particular have had their fair share of struggles this year, on the field and in the press, even in this blog. Brian Fuentes held the Twins at bay in the tenth, and then the Angel offense leapt at their chance to finish things off the good old walk-off way.
Chone Figgins started the 10th off with his 3rd hit of the game, and was promptly sacrificed over by Brandon Wood. Bobby Abrue was then immediately given a free pass via the intentional walk, and Kendre Morales, who saw his 20 game hitting streak snapped, made the 2nd out of the inning. Up stepped Mike Napoli, who has a knack of providing the big hit of late, as his two run home run in Kansas City in yesterday’s game knotted things late. He didn’t disappoint this time either. Napoli drove a ball deep into the right center field gap, scoring Figgins and thus began a celebration on the field of Napoli trying to dodge the onslaught of Angel players chasing him down, only to be caught on the infield grass and dog-piled by the team, as the Angel fans went wild.
Angel fans, this game was a better test of the club than any of the games just completed on this 7 game road trip that saw the Angels go 6-1. Reason being, is that the Twins have for the most part, a solid team. The “Killer J’s” (Jason Kubel, Justin Morneau, Joe Mauer, Joe Nathan) are all premier players in the league, and the fact that the Angels were able to come back against a closer such as Nathan, speaks volumes. It’s also very apparent that the patience that Bobby Abreu exhibits in every single at bat, is spreading to the rest of the team.
Game 2 of the series Friday, will see once promising starter Francisco Liriano face off against John Lackey. With the Rangers off on Thursday, the Angels now enjoy a 3.5 game lead in the AL West. On a day when Mark Buehrle of the White Sox threw a perfect game, the Angels also had a little magic up their sleeve.
Until next time Angel fans.
For those baseball purists out there, this matchup between John Lackey and Brett Anderson was nothing short of a classic. Bobby Abreu’s solo home run in the 10th was the lone run in the game, as the Angels defeated Oakland 1-0, and taking three of four in the series. The Halos now find themselves with a much more cushioned 3.5 game lead in the division compared to the 1.5 game lead they arrived in Oakland with.
I have to admit, when looking at the starting lineup for the Angels, who were without Juan Rivera, Kendre Morales, as well as injured starters Torii Hunter and Vladimir Guerrero – I was wondering where the offense would be coming from as I was seeing the names of Reggie Willits, Howie Kendrick, Gary Matthews Jr and Brandon Wood. in their place. Apparently, my worries weren’t just paranoia, as A’s starter Brett Anderson took a perfect game into the 7th, only to have it broken up by a Bobby Abreu single. John Lackey was no slouch either, throwing nine shutout innings, scattering three hits while striking out six A’s of his own, to pick up his fifth victory of the year. Dominating the A’s is no oddity for Lackey, as he has had games similar to this in year’s past. Watching Lackey do what he does best, reminds me how much he means to this team, and how important it will be for them to re-sign the free-agent-to-be at season’s end. Attempts at a contract extension stalled before the season, and you can count that Lackey will attract lots of suitors in the offseason. Arte Moreno and the Angel’s brass needs to step up and do whatever it takes to keep Lackey, one of three remaining Angels from the 2002 World Series team.
Brian Fuentes followed the Abreu home run, and set the A’s down, picking up his major league leading 28th save. The save though, came with Gary Matthews Jr. making the final play of the game, barely catching a sun filled fly ball in center.
The Angels leave town and head up to Kansas City, where they will begin a three game series against the much improved Royals beginning tomorrow, with Sean O’sullivan squaring up against Sir Sidney Ponson. Don’t be surprised Halo fans, if the club returns home for their next homestand with the new second place team being the Seattle Mariners, as the M’s only trail the Rangers by half a game for second place. The next series for each will see Texas hosting the hated Red Sox, while the suddenly hot Mariners will travel to Detroit to face the Tigers. Needless to say, a series sweep would really put some distance between the Angels and the rest of the West.
Until next time Angel fans.
The Angels wrapped up a three game sweep Sunday afternoon, defeating the Yankees 5-4 on a sun blistering afternoon in Anaheim. Perhaps though, it was a little hotter at the stadium compared to the rest of Orange County, and that folks, can be attributed to the halos. The Angels completed a ten game homestand, finishing 7-3 and had into the All-Star Break with a 1.5 game lead over the second place Texas Rangers. Those same Rangers, you remember, just left Anaheim after taking 2 of 3 and enjoying a slim one game lead in the division. To make matters worse, before this series against the Yanks began, the Angels placed both Vladimir Guerrero and Torii Hunter on the disabled list. Needless to say, most Angels fans including yours truly, were concerned over how exactly they would score runs, and who would step up in the absence of the injured players. To make matters worse, Juan Rivera left in the first game of the series with a hamstring injury and although he isn’t expected to be placed on the DL, he missed the final two games against the Yankees.
Brandon Wood, Robb Quinlan and Gary Matthews Jr. all made the most of their new found opportunities, each contributing to victories in the series. Combined with strong play by Kendre Morales, Bobby Abreu, Chone Figgins and the rest of the club, the Angels quickly showed the character and grit that will be needed throughout the rest of the season, and that, was a welcome sign to Halo fans. Both clubs put up football type scores in the first two games, as the Angels took game one 10-6, and game two 14-8. Game three turned out to be more of a typical Angel game. Strong starting pitching from John Lackey, who outdueled C.C. Sabathia for 7 strong innings. A little hiccup provided by Justin Speier and spotty defense briefly let the Yankees back in the game, but Darren Oliver pitched a solid 8th and Brian Fuentes picked up his 26th save, setting the Bronx Bombers down in order in the 9th, culminated by strking out famed steroid (sorry Alex, but nobody buys the fact that you only used steroids in Texas..) user and all around pretty boy Alex Rodriguez to close the door.
I also must admit that I found great joy in the fact that Mark (fill in your own expletive here) Teixeira went a superb 2-14 in the series, and thoroughly enjoyed watching Kendre Morales (who replaced Teixeira) round the bases in game one after hitting a bomb of his own.
So, Angel fans, enjoy this sweep, but let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves. The second half of the season begins in Oakland, and gives the Angels an opportunity to show that they can win against the AL West, whom they have for the most part, struggled against so far this year. Also, you have to wonder if the club will be involved in any big trades. With Roy Halladay available, and under contract through next year, it sure would be nice to see the Angels land him, as getting an ace like Halladay, combined with the other horses we have in our rotation would surely make the Angels serious threats to make it deep into the playoffs. The Angels also have needs in the bullpen to look at filling. Needless to say, Tony Reagins will have his hands busy in this second half.
Until next time Angel fans
The Angels announced today that both Vladimir Guerrero and Torii Hunter were placed on the disabled list, effective until July 22nd. So, what exactly does this mean? No, don’t hit the panic button just yet, (trust me, I thought about it) but these next couple of weeks are going to be huge for the club, obviously. Brought up to replace them on the team were Brandon Wood and Bobby Wilson. For Mike Scioscia, he’s got some decisions to make. Will he move Chone Figgins to second, and give Brandon Wood some solid time at third? Or will he pull a Sean Rodriguez with him? If you remember, Sean Rodriguez only got a handful of starts after he was called up for Howie Kendrick. If Wood can catch fly balls, why not throw him in left or right field? With the call up of Bobby Wilson, you would tend to believe that Mike Napoli is going to see some time at DH.
The time is now for several Angels. Gary Matthews Jr., will get the playing time he has been lobbying for since last year. Howie Kendrick will be counted on to help pick up the slack on offense. Also, Juan Rivera and Kendre Morales will be depended on to keep producing along with Bobby Abreu.
This next couple of weeks can very easily mean the division. We’ll have to wait and see.
Until next time Angel fans.