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.
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
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.
Jered Weaver, so far this year, has been the ace of the Angels staff. Tonight though, wasn’t very ace-like. Weaver became the fourth Angel starter in a row to have a sub par outing, going 5 innings, giving up 8 hits and 4 runs on Tuesday night in Anaheim. Matt Palmer, who is much better as a reliever, demonstrated this by tossing 3 innings of one hit relief, quieting an Indians lineup that had their sights set on lighting up Halo pitching for the second consecutive night. Weaver allowed single runs in every inning he pitched except for the 3rd, and gave up solo home runs to Ben Francisco and Jhonny Peralta.
Indians starter David Huff did a fine job in his first 7 innings. But things changed quickly for the lefty as he headed to the mound to start the 7th, up 4-3. He allowed the first two batters to reach base; Erick Aybar on an infield single, and walking Mr. Patience, Bobby Abreu. Huff was then taken out, and reliever Joe Smith allowed an RBI single to Juan Rivera, tying things up, (allowing Jered Weaver to spit the hook of a loss out of his mouth) before getting Mike Napoli to ground into a double play. Smith was then replaced by Tony Sipp. Sipp then walked pinch hitter Maicer Izturis and Kendry Morales. You could almost see more hairs turn grey on the head of the Tribe’s skipper, Eric Wedge as up came Gary Matthews Jr, who was hitting a lofty .140 from the right side of the plate on the year. Gary proceeded to slam a double to the left center field gap, scoring all 3 Angels, and giving the club a 7-4 lead. This was clearly the biggest hit of the season for Matthews Jr. I’ve been pretty rough on Gary all year long, and let me take this opportunity to give him some kudos for getting that hit. It was Matthew’s 2nd double of the game, both coming from the right side. You see, sometimes in baseball, stats are overrated. I’m not sure about the rest of you out there, but I was honestly wondering how Cleveland’s record and place in the divison was so bad, but their bullpen work in the 8th alone, helped explain a lot.
Brian Fuentes, who got roughed up the night before, blowing the save, took the mound to start the ninth, looking for redemption. The Tribe had other ideas, as Andy Marte led off with a walk, followed by Asdrubal Cabrera, who rung a double off the right field wall. Pinch hitter Jamey Carroll singled in a run, and Fuentes then walked Shin-Soo Choo to load the bases with nobody out, and the Tribe down 7-5. Fuentes was then taken out, with no redemption having been found, and replaced by Jason Bulger. Bulger then induced a double play ground ball from Victor Marinez, as the Indians pulled within a run, 7-6. Bulger then got Jhonny Peralta to ground out to short, ending the game, to the absolute delight of the Halo faithful. This was Bulger’s first career save, definitely one that he will remember. Matt Palmer picked up the victory, his 9th of the year, and in this game, he definitely earned it.
Brian Fuentes hasn’t recorded an out in his last two outings, which were both atrocious. Let’s hope he can pull out of whatever funk he is in, and right the ship. His last two outings gave us glimpses back to how he was at the beginning of the year and on a night when the 1980’s were celebrated at the Big A, nobody wants to revisit Fuentes’ early season struggles.
Also, in case you were wondering, the Rangers won again. The Halos slim lead still sits at 2.5 games in the AL West. Tonight also saw some dramatics come from their AAA team, as pitcher Sean O’Sullivan (who has started witht he big club this year) threw a no-hitter, just missing a perfect game. Congratulations Sean.
Tomorrow afternoon, John Lackey takes the mound in the series finale, taking on Indians lefty Aaron Laffey. The Angels need Big John to take the ball and have a strong outing, as the bullpen has been taxed over the past four games pretty heavily. The Halos will enjoy an off day on Thursday, before heading out of town on a road trip to Minnesota and Chicago.
Until next time Angel fans.
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.
Angel fans, take notice. Of what, you ask? In case you didn’t notice, we are watching our future shortstop blossom right before our eyes. Erick Aybar had himself one heck of a day, a mammoth of a day, going a combined 7-9 in the doubleheader Tuesday, helping the Angels win game 2 by a score of 10-2 and sweeping both games of this doubleheader from the struggling Royals. The 2nd game was definitely the better of the two for Aybar, as the Angels shortstop went 4-5, driving in 3, and coming within a home run of hitting for the cycle. The only thing that Aybar didn’t do Tuesday night, was walk on water, which I hear he was rumored to be attempting in the whirpool after the game.
Also a member of the A-Team was Bobby Abreu. Abreu was no slouch himself, going 3-4 with 3 doubles and 3 RBI’s. Sharing in the festivities with two hits apiece were Robb Quinlan (who went deep for the first time this year) Reggie Willits and Howie Kendrick. It’s good to see Willits get some hits, as generally everytime you look up he’s down in the count 0-2, and anytime Howie Kendrick gets a hit, it’s reason to celebrate.
Sean O’sullivan did enough to earn the victory, going 5 1/3 and allowing both of the Royal runs. Bruce Chen, who opposed O’Sullivan, wasn’t so lucky. It appeared all game long that Chen and catcher Joe Buck weren’t on the same page, as the two engaged in mulitiple catcher to pitcher mound visits throughout the game. The Angels bullpen completed the day of shutout baseball, while Justin Speier, Shane Loux, and Matt Palmer shut the Royals down the rest of the way.
What might be the best part of today’s sweep, is that the club won not only without Vladimir Guerrero and Torii Hunter, who both are expected to be weeks away from returning, but also without Juan Rivera, who has carried most of the load with the big guns on the disabled list. The Angels have been so hot lately, it’s almost scary to thing how good they could really be if the starting rotation got it’s act together, and everyone returned from injury. With a healthy lineup, the Angels come out you from all angles, like a spider monkey hopped up on Mountain Dew, and there are very few holes, if any, to be exploited. Really, all that remains to be seen is the starting rotation, mainly Santana and Saunders – if those two can come around and pitch with some consistency, this could be the year for the Angels. The bullpen, which was an embarassment for almost the first half of the year, is now looking very good,and with Jose Arredondo rumored to be close to a promotion back to the big club, could be looking even better. Shane Loux, who has been out for what seems like an eternity, made an appearance, going two innings of hitless relief.
So, Angel fans, tonight is a night to enjoy, to sit back, have a few cold ones, and take in the fact that we’ve got one heck of a hot team on our hands and the rest of this season is shaping up to be a lot of fun.
Until next time Angel fans.
A tale of two cities, is not only a literary classic, but also can best describe the last two starts by the Angels Ervin Santana. While dominating and overpowering during his last start in Oakland, Santana struggled at times (reverting back to his form so far for most of this injury filled year) against the Royals Tuesday, going 6 innings while allowing 5 runs on 8 hits, but was just good enough to earn his 3rd win of the season. This start was a letdown to those out there hoping to see some consistency out of Santana, but it just wasn’t the case. Santana was really the only not-so-bright spot in an otherwise solid victory for the halos, as they settled in to take game 1 of their doubleheader against the Royals.
What, may you ask were the bright spots in this victory? The Angels 4-7 hitters lit up Sir Sidney Ponson and his supporting cast, to the tune of a combined 9-17, scoring 7 of the 8 runs for the Halos and driving in 4 of them. Kendre Morales, Mike Napoli, (who hit his 12th moon shot of the season) Erick Aybar and Gary Matthews Jr. were those 4-7 hitters, and got the Angels started early, and carried them in the latter innings to victory. Not to be outdone, Darren Oliver and Kevin Jepsen – armed with his newly taught power slider, shut down the Royals and handed the ball off to Brian Fuentes, who picked up his major league leading 29th save of the season.
Early on, the Halos jumped all over Sir Sidney Ponson, grabbing an early 4-1 lead before Santana let the Royals back in, keyed by a 2-run home run by Billy Butler, giving the Royals a brief 5-4 lead that they would soon relinquish.
Game 2 will see Sean O’sullivan get the nod against Bruce Chen, and I really don’t see the Halos doing anything other than sweeping this doubleheader against the struggling Royals.
Until next time Angel fans.