By far and away, this was Joe Saunders best start of the year. Despite giving up solo home runs to Hideki Matsui and Mr. Performancer Enhancer himself, Alex Rodriguez, the lefty was locked in and lethal on Monday night. Saunders ended up going 8 1/3 innings, and only allowed 2 runs to the high powered offfensive show that is this year’s version of the New York Yankees. Closer Brian Fuentes came in to slam the door shut to pick up yet another save. Saunders start was exactly what the team needed to start this homestand with and set the tone against the Yanks, as the Halos (not sure about the Yankees) hope that this is just a preview of a potential ALCS matchup.
Saunders was opposed by Andy Pettitte, who wasn’t too bad himself. Besides a little hiccup in the first in which the Angels scored 2, for the most part, the veteran lefty was superb. The hiccup in the first were back to back RBI doubles by Vladimir Guerrero and Torii Hunter to stake the club to an early lead that they would never surrender.
Kendry Morales checked in with a pinch hit solo hom run, his 31st of the season in the 7th inning to help give the Angels a little insurance heading into the latter innnings.
Most importantly though, the Angels gained a game on the Yankees, who currently hold the lead on the best record in the AL and furthermore, home field advantage throughout the playoffs. The Yankees lead, now stands at 4 games, and with 2 more games left against the Bronx Bombers in this series, plenty of ground can be made.
Ervin Santana opposed Chad Gaudin tomorrow night as the Halos look to make it 2 straight. I know it’s still just the regular season, but to think about a possible playoff matchup between these two teams is something I know the Halo fans are frothing at the mouth about, and I can already hear the grumblings from the New York fans – they want to stay as far away from us in the playoffs as they can.
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