John Lackey was the man Wednesday afternoon in Anaheim. He did what none of the four previous Angel starting pitchers have been able to do, which was provide excellent starting pitching on a day that the Angels really needed it. Nevermind the fact that he also did it during a day game, where the ball always carries better at the Big A. Lackey held the recently surging Indian offense in check throughout – giving up only 3 hits and 1 run while fanning 8, as the Halos went on to win, 9-3 . This was definitely what the Halos needed as they wrapped up the homestand, finishing 5-2, and taking 2 of 3 from the Indians. Lackey did what is expected out of an ace – taking the ball when the club needed it and giving them exactly what was expected. I’m already starting to wonder how the team will recover without him next year if he isn’t resigned.
Lackey had plenty of help from the offense, especially from one Howie Kendrick. Howie single handedly picked up Lackey all by himself, going 3-4 with 5 RBI, including his 6th home run of the season, a two run shot off Cleveland reliever Tony Sipp. Kendry Morales and Bobby Abreu continued their hot play, each chipping in with 2 hits of their own. For having been sent down to the minors earlier this year due to his poor hitting, it was great to see Howie break out the big guns today and give us all a glimpse of what the young 2nd baseman can do.
Indians starter Aaron Laffey never did recover from giving up 2 runs while throwing 40+ pitches in the first, as he was sent off of the reservation after not being able to record an out in the 4th, ulitmately giving up 7 runs to the Halos.
Perhaps the Indians were a little distracted today, as before the game, last year’s Cy Young winner Cliff Lee, along with Ben Francisco, were shipped to Philadelphia for 4 minor leaguers. I’m glad I’m not an Indian fans, as the Tribe has now traded away Mark DeRosa, Rafeal Betancourt, Ryan Garko, along with the two traded today. Indians fans, if I’m missing someone else please help me out, but you have to wonder how a team so close to the World Series two years ago, has apparently given up and returned back to a rebuilding mode. Keep in mind, last year Casey Blake and C.C. Sabathia were shipped away. You have to feel bad for the stars left on the team, especially Grady Sizemore, who you know they aren’t going to trade. Most importantly though, you have to feel for the poor Cleveland fans, who can’t be none too happy about any of this. You can imagine lots of firewater is going to be drank on the team’s jet and in the city of Cleveland tonight.
Tomorrow, Halo fans, the Angels are off. They then embark on a road trip to Minnesota and Chicago. Hopefully at some point during the trip, they will welcome back Torii Hunter back from the disabled list. The Rangers, who for the moment are 3 games back in the division, wrap up their series with Detroit and face their ace, Justin Verlander. I don’t root for the Tigers often, but I will be doing so tonight. The Rangers then host the Mariners before going on the road to Oakland. The Angels will return home from their road trip to face the Rangers in what you can expect will be hands down, the biggest series of the year. It will be very interesting to see what both the Angels and Rangers do up until the trade deadline. With Boston now reportedly in the sweepstakes for Roy Halladay, the next few days will be interesting. Let it also be noted, that after 100 games of this season, the Angels are 60-40.
Perhaps it’s a little bit of paranoia on my end, but both Mike Napoli and Erick Aybar were both out of today’s lineup. Granted, it could have been a regular rest day for them, but with all the trade winds swirling the Big A lately, I wonder if potentially either of them are on the verge of being traded, as generally on days players are traded, they are not put in the lineup.
Unitl next time Angel fans.
On this Monday night, not even John Wayne himself could have been much help against these Indians. Simply put, the Tribe was on the war path. The Angels held them as best they could, at bay for eight innings. The ninth inning though, was when the Indians broke through the Angel lines, scalping Brian Fuentes for four runs before an out was recorded, keyed by back to back home runs by Victor Marinez, (a three run shot), and Jhonny Peralta, (a solo shot) to knock Fuentes out of the game, and the Indians enjoying a 8-6 lead after entering the ninth down 6-4.. With how great Fuentes had been lately, you had to figure he was due for a bad night. Once the dust had settled, the Tribe had collected 20 hits, with four apiece coming from Shin-Soo Choo and Jhonny Peralta. Every single Indians starter had at least one hit. And, all of this came as Indians first baseman Ryan Garko was traded just before the game to the San Francisco Giants. Yeah, it was one of those nights. Let me re-cap for you, how the night started, as initially the Angels looked like they would hang on for the victory.
With his last start before the July 31st trade deadline, Joe Saunders showed the Angels something. He showed them, that they need to go out and get a starting pitcher of some sort because he, along with Ervin Santana, comprise 40% of the Angels starting rotation, and right now, neither of them can be trusted to go out and get the job done. That’s a big potential land mine for a club looking to keep the Rangers, who really are closer than they appear, out of sight in their rear view mirror. How Saunders didn’t give up more than 4 runs in his 5 innings of work (if that’s what you want to call it) is beyond me. Justin Speier, Darren Oliver and Kevin Jepsen all managed to throw scoreless relief, wiggling out of jams of their own, and Brian Fuentes, well, we already covered that.
Speaking of the offense, Juan Rivera came back to the lineup in the DH role, after missing the previous 8 games with a hamstring injury. Rivera didn’t show any signs of rust, hitting a home run in his first plate appearance in the 2nd inning, and was promptly followed by Kendry Morales and Mike Napoli who hit solo home runs of their own,as the threesome went back to back to back, giving the Angels a 3-2 lead. Morales added another solo home run off Indians starter Carl Pavano in the 6th, giving him a club leading 20 for the year. Despite the showing of power, the better offensive team was clearly the Indians, as they battered Angel pitching all night long. In fact, the Tribe did a pretty good Angel impersonation of their own, as this formula has been the blueprint for many Angel victories during their recent hot streak.
Kerry Wood came into the ninth to slam the door on the Halos and pick up the save, as the Indians held onto an 8-6 victory. The Rangers on the other hand, beat the Tigers, meaning the Angel lead is now sitting at 2.5 games. It’s somewhat hard to believe, that after the club’s recent play, that the Rangers are still hanging around. These Rangers are doing their best to show they’re not typical of past Rangers teams, who usually would fade out of contention along with the summer heat.
So, where do we go from here Angel fans? I think it’s pretty apparent that the club needs to take a pretty serious look at getting some sort of reliable starting pitching to help down the stretch. The only names we’ve been hearing that are on the market have been Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, and ex-Halo Jarrod Washburn. If anything, the recent hot play by the club has only been masking their true needs. Perhaps, this game will allow the front office to see the club for what it truly is, and in the playoffs, it all starts with strong starting pitching.
In Game 2 of this series, the Halos hope to cool down the streaking Indians who have won a season high 5 games in a row as Indians lefty David Huff takes on Jered Weaver. Weaver will be searching for his 11th win of the season.
Until next time Angel fans.
They say all good things come to an end. And in the Angels case, it meant the end to their 8 game winning streak as they dropped the final game of a four game series to the visiting Minnesota Twins Sunday afternoon, 10-1. The Twins leave town, still licking their wounds from a brutal road trip, but managing to take with them some dignity in avoiding the four game sweep at the hands of the red hot Halos.
Angels starting pitcher Ervin Santana again disappointed, lasting only 3 2/3 inning to pick up the loss. It should be noted, that Santana has yet to pick up a victory this year at the Big A, a place where he has normally pitched very well. Santana surrendered a first inning home run to Twins slugger Justin Morneau, the first of two for him on the day, and from there, things only got worse. An Angel lineup filled with supersubs who have done nothing but overacheive in the absence of starters Torii Hunter, Vladimir Guerrero and Juan Rivera, helped make Twins starter Anthony Swarzak look like the best thing since sliced bread, as the big right hander went 6 2/3 innings to pick up his 3rd win of the season. There was definitely an attitude amongst the Angel fans that the Halos, who have 32 comeback wins this year, would somehow get themselves back into the game as has been the case for nearly the past month, but that comeback never came. Besides a solo home run by Kendre Morales in the 4th inning, the Angels, for the most part, went down faster than a North Korean Missile.
Combine the Angels loss with a Rangers victory over the Royals, and the Angels lead over Texas now sits at 3.5 games. The Halos next welcome in the Cleveland Indians, who have been heating up of late, winners of four in a row, but are still sitting 12 games back in the AL Central. The Indians have been involved in many trade deadline rumors involving last year’s Cy Young Winner Cliff Lee, and catcher/first baseman Victor Martinez. Game One of this series will see disabled list All Star and Yankee extortioner Carl Pavano take on Joe Saunders. Saunders, who hasn’t won in over a month will undoubtedly be looking to regain last year’s form as the Angels and Indians hook up for the first time this year.
Until next time Angel fans.
Halo fans, I hope your seatbelts were strapped on extra tight for this one. The Angels offense continued to sizzle, finding yet another way to offset subpar starting pitching courtesy of Joe Saunders, to complete the sweep of the 3 game series against the Royals, 9-6. Royals manager Trey Hillman personally drove the Angels team bus to the airport, as he had seen just about everything that the scorching hot Angels offense had to offer. The series saw the Royals lose a game they had a brief lead in, get thoroughly wacked in another, and lost the finale in a game they had a 6-2 lead going into the 7th inning. When the dust had settled, the Royals were mired in an embarassing 9 game losing streak, while the Angels have now won 9 of their last 10. Dating back to June 12th, the club’s record is 26-9, best in the majors.
While I understand and I hope you do as well, that the Angels won’t be seeing any teams in the playoffs with poor bullpens like that of the Royals, and, they won’t be so lucky to get away with such horrid starting pitching from Mr. Joe Saunders – this game was, a true showing of the tenacity and grit that is present in every single one of the Angles offensive players. There’s no way you can stop them, you can only hope to contain them. This was, in the truest sense of the word, a complete team victory. The power was provided courtesy of Maicer Izturis, Howie Kendrick, and Mike Napoli (who provided the game tying home run in the 8th). Chone Figgins chipped in nicely with 4 hits, while Reggie Willits and Kendre Morales added 2 hits apiece. Kendre Morales extended his hitting streak to a very respectable 20 games. The only Angel that didn’t have a hit, was Bobby Abreu, and after what he did last night, I’ll give him a pass on today’s game.
Shutout bullpen relief again (this seems like an occurrence every game lately) was provided by Justin Speier, Kevin Jepsen, and Brian Fuentes, who picked up his major league leading 30th save of the year. I can’t remember when it was this much fun to watch the Angels play, as they are coming out, guns blazing each and every time.
However, there are still glaring issues with the club; don’t be fooled by their blistering hot play of late. Huge question marks still abound in the form of starting pitching – and these question marks rest solely on the head of Joe Saunders and Ervin Santana at the moment. While Roy Halladay’s pricetag may be too much for the Halos to absorb, perhaps Cleveland’s Cliff Lee might be a much cheaper, but all together a very good alternative? I would hate to see the club give up Jerrod Weaver and other big name prospects, but this is the time of year when GM’s make their money. Tony Reagins, boy have you got your work cut out for you this year.
Tomorrow, the Halos open up a 7 game homestand with the Twins and Indians coming into town, with Scott Baker opposing Jerrod Weaver.
Until next time Angel fans.