It wasn’t exactly pretty, but at this time of the season, especially against the closest team to them in the standings, the Angels will take it. Scott Kazmir was a bulldog on Friday night, going 6 shutout innings, and picked up his first win with the team since coming over from Tampa Bay. Despite this only being Kazmir’s first victory, he has been a man of quality each time he has taken the hill thus far.
Granted, the Angels are taking on a Ranger team who hasn’t scored since the Eisenhower administration it seems like. They (the Rangers) had their chances, but Kazmir, followed with excellent relief from Jason Bulger, Mr. Consistency Kevin Jepsen in particular and Brian Fuentes kept the Rangers off of the scoreboard. If this note my statistician handed me is correct, the Rangers have been shut out 4 times now in their past 5 games – which is quite possibly the biggest slump in the history of these normally offensively sound Texas Rangers. To be blunt, my 96 year old grandfather is scoring more than the Rangers these days.. Who would have thought the Rangers problem at this point in the season would have been hitting rather than pitching? The pitching, to the Rangers credit, is as good as I’ve seen in many, many years. It remains to be seen, in the offseason, if the Rangers have the testicular fortitude in the form of money to go out and get the missing pieces needed to overtake the Halos next year, as this year, as the beloved Chick Hearn would say, is over. The jello is certainly jiggling.
The Angels now have a comfortable 7 1/2 game lead in the division. The next series, when the club returns home, will be against the Yankees and will go a long way to see who will have home field advantage throughout the playoffs. Should be interesting.
Let’s see if the Angels can add to the Rangers woes with another shutout today as Jered Weaver takes the hill. Boy, it sure is nice when you have 5 better than average starters to rely on each and every day.
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.
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
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.