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.
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.