Tagged: Chone Figgins

Saunders Returns, Halos Avoid Sweep, 4-2.

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. 

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Angels Sweep Rays Out Of Town

The Angels rolled out the red carpet for this series, as they wanted to welcome back former bench coach Joe Maddon in typical Angel fashion.  And they did just that, completing a three game sweep of the Rays.  The day was highlighted by the major league debut of Trevor Bell.  Bell, who wasn’t particularly great nor particularly bad, gave what was expected of him and of someone making their big league debut.  The righty went 5 1/3 allowing 4 runs on 9 hits.  Carlos Pena proved to be the biggest thorn in Bell’s side, hitting 2 home runs off of him. 

Offensively, the Angels again, just kept throwing runs on the board.  Gary Matthews Jr hit a three run home run in the 6th and Howie Kendrick added a three run blast of his own an inning later.  Chone Figgins led the attack with 3 hits, and was followed by Erick Aybar, Kendry Morales, Mike Napoli and Howie Kendrick who all had two hits apiece. 

The Angels wrapped up the homestand going 4-2, and have now won 3 games in a row.  Hopefully come this weekend, Torii Hunter will rejoin the team.  

The Angels are off tomorrow, as they travel to Baltimore to being a crucial 10 game road trip against the Orioles, Indians and Blue Jays.

Over the next week I will be doing a little road tripping with the family, I will do my best to throw a couple of blogs out there but should be back to normal in a week. 

Until next time Angel fans 

Angels Find Offense, Salvage Final Game of Series Against Sox

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.   

Angels Feast on Twins Again, Complete Sweep

I believe the best course of action for the entire Minnesota Twins ballclub, is to go to the nearest hospital immeditately.  Surely, after the three game series that they just went through,  in which they were absolutely owned and demolished by the Halos, it is almost a guarantee that the Twins suffered some sort of lasting effect from the Angels whips and brooms.  The Angels, scoring in double digits for the third game in a row, completed the sweep, winning 13-4 and with that, put on an offensive display that has definitely gotten some attention across not only the America League, but across Major League Baseball.  The Angles will dearly miss Minnesota,  as they scored a combined 35 runs while sweeping the Twins.  Jered Weaver was the benefactor today, as he took the hill for the Halos.  Weaver powered his way through a potent Twins lineup, setting a personal best by fanning 11 Twins while going 6 1/3 innings to pick up his 11th win of the year.  Justin Speier and Shane Loux again, provided shutout relief in support of Weaver. 

Offensively, the club was led by the list of usual suspects.  Kendry Morales, who is giving Angel fans a reason to say “Mark who?” blasted a pair of three run shots, giving him a team leading in both home runs (23) and RBI (69).  When the season started, Kendry was for the most part a question mark, as he never had consistent enough playing time to give the Halos an idea of what exactly they could expect.  His play so far this year has been nothing short of spectacular, and a huge reason why the club is where it is right now.  Despite all the injuries and uncertainty which has plagued the club all year long, Kendry has been one of the few constants, along with Chone Figgins and Bobby Abreu for the Angels offense.  Gary Matthews Jr, Bobby Abreu, Howie Kendrick and Jeff Mathis each had two hits in the victory as well.  Sean Rodriguez, is making the most of his starts in left field, blasting a 3 run home run, his 2nd of the year, off of Twins starter Glen Perkins, who was just flat out rocked in his four innings, giving up 12 hits while allowing 9 runs.

There are two things on my mind right now when it comes to the team, and how their playoff chances will fare, trusting they make the playoffs of course.  The first and most glaring of these two is wondering if this offense will show up during the postseason?  They can be guaranteed of at least facing 2 of the elite starting pitchers in baseball no matter what team they play.  The Yankees have Sabathia and Burnett, the Red Sox have Beckett and Lester, Tigers have Verlander and Jackson, etc.  It’s always been a given that good pitching beats good hitting,  I wonder if that will truly be the case as only time will tell.  The second thing on my mind, is if they are peaking too early.  Can they realistically be expected to keep scoring in double digits or close to it every night?  As much as I want to say yes, it doesn’t appear that way.  However, the one thing I’ve learned this year, from this team, is to never say never.  They have gone through far too much adversity and come out of it far better than they entered it, which speaks volumes on the character and toughness this team has.  In short, these Halos are completely unique – you can’t label them, and just when you think you have them all figured out, they surprise you further.   And, might I add, have been such a blast to watch so far this year.. 

The Rangers beat the Mariners today to keep pace with the Halos, keeping the Angels lead at 4 games.  Tomorrow Angel fans, the Halos are off as they travel to Chicago to begin a 3 game series against the White Sox.  The White Sox, who currently sit 1.5 games out of first, know they will have their hands full with the Angels, but also desperately need these games to stay in the race in the AL Central.  We all know they’ve seen the carnage that was the Angels last series, and seeing how the Twins lost 3 games in the standings in just 3 days.  John Lackey will oppose Jose Contreras in the opener.

Until next time Angel fans.

Napoli, Bullpen, Carry Angels in Extras over  Twins

Well Halo fans, today the trade deadline came and passed and the Angels stood pat and didn’t make any moves.  Primarily, the team had been rumored to be looking for starting pitching and bullpen help.  While Ervin Satana’s start on this Friday night again, wasn’t up to snuff – if the bullpen can continue to perform as they did on Friday night, the fact that they didn’t pick up anyone today  will never be an issue.  Santana went 6 innings, giving up 5 runs on 8 hits to the Twins, and left with the club losing 5-4.  The bullpen work tonight was nothing short of dominating, as Justin Speier, Jason Bulger, Kevin Jepsen and Darren Oliver provided scoreless relief.  In particular, Kevin Jepsen went two innings, striking out 3, while going straight through the teeth of the Twins order.  The final score, saw the Halos win 11-5 in 11 innings, with the bullpen retiring the final 13 Twins to shut things down.  The bullpen was handed the ball knowing they had to throw up zeros, and they did just that.  After early season struggles, the bullpen really appears to be coming into their own in typical Angel fashion.

Mike Napoli was near perfect at the plate, doing his best Joe Mauer impersonation, going 4-6 and tying the game up in the 8th with his 16th homer of the season, off of Twins reliever Matt Guerrier, yet another clutch bomb from Napoli, to tie things at 8.  Bobby Abreu went 3-5 as well, driving in 4 as well as belting his 8th home run of the year in the victory.  Chone Figgins led the Angel attack, going 3-6.

The final score wasn’t a true indication of how close of a game this really was.  Headed into the 11th tied at 5, the game was turning into a battle of the bullpens.  The Angels first eight batters in the 11th all managed to reach base either by walk or hit, and the rest was history.  The key blow was a bases loaded single by Maicer Izturis, which drove in two, putting the Halos up 8-5 and starting a mass movement of Twins fans towards the exits.

Ervin Santana started the game well, shutting the Twins down in the first two innings.  However, he allowed 3 runs in the 3rd, keyed by a 3 run home run by Joe Mauer, and another 2 runs in the 4th.  To his credit, he battled back, finishing strong by holding the Twins scoreless in both the 5th and 6th.  Twins starter Nick Blackburn deserved better, going 6 2/3 and leaving with the lead that his bullpen ultimately couldn’t hold.   

Game 2 of the series will see struggling Joe Saunders take on Anthony Swarzak.  Swarzak’s last start was against the halos, where he went 6 2/3 of solid work.  Saunders, who hasn’t won in over a month, needs to put together a good outing, as he has been far from the Joe Saunders we all saw last year.

Texas again kept pace, beating the Mariners to keep the Angels lead at 3 games. 

Until next time Angel fans     

 

Angels KO Twins in 4th, Extend Streak to 8

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.

Angels Continue to Roll, Defeat Nathan, Twins

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.