Tagged: Howie Kendrick

Too Little Too Late For Halos

This wasn’t at all what Sean O’Sullivan had planned as he prepared to take the mound against the Blue Jays in game one of this three game series.  The rookie right hander didn’t record an out in the 2nd inning, and left having yielded 4 runs to the Blue Jays as the Jays went on to win, 5-4.  The outing was yet another in a newly formed trend of poor starts from Angels rookie starting pitchers lately.  Granted Trevor Bell did pick up his first major league win his last turn around in Cleveland, but it was far from pretty.  The bullpen did the best they could with solid relief coming in the form of Matt Palmer (who may see himself getting O’Sullivan’s turn in the rotation next time) and Jose Arredondo, who limited the Jays to only 1 run for the rest of the game.  The Angels offense wasn’t much better, at least through the first 8 innings. The bats appeared to have taken the night off for the second night in a row, only managing one run, but Mike Napoli provided an ulcer building moment for Jays manager Cito Gaston, hitting a 3 run home run in the Angels half of the ninth to bring the Halos within a run.  Casey Janssen would induce a game ending groundout by pinch hitter Bobby Abreu to notch the save and the victory for Toronto with Howie Kendrick on 2nd base. 

Yorba Linda native Marc Rzepczynski (last time I will type that name – haha) silenced the Angels bats for 6 1/3 innings, only allowing 3 hits and 1 run to pick up the victory. After somewhat of a shaky first inning, he found his form – and his slider and pitched well.  Adam Lind hit his 29th home run off of O’Sullivan in the first to help start the Jays attack.

Tomorrow, Ervin Santana will get the start in an afternoon game, and look to get the Angels off of this 2 game skid.  He will be opposed by Scott Richmond, as both pitchers will look to pick up their 7th win of the season. 

The Rangers lost in Tampa Bay, so the Angels lead still sits at 5.5 games.  Elsewhere around the league, the Yankees continue beating anyone and everyone, outscoring the hated Red Sox in a run scoring extravaganza, 20-11.  The Red Sox appear to be getting some bullpen relief in the form of Mets lefty Billy Wagner, who is just now getting back from a left elbow injury suffered nearly 12 months ago.  The Red Sox hold a slim 1 game lead in the Wild Card over the Rangers.  Let’s see if Ervin can build off of his recent success and provide the club with a much needed quality start.

Until next time Angel fans.  

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 

Lackey and Kendrick Lead Angels Over Tribe

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.

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. 

Angels Comeback to Complete Sweep – Saunders Struggles Continue

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. 

A-Team Completes Doubleheader Sweep, Roll over Royals

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.