On Friday night in Anaheim, the Angels were owned by the Athletics. Three different pitchers led by Gio Gonzalez combined to fan the Angels 13 separate times. The amount of wind produced by the Angels bats coming up empty swing after swing did in fact cool down much of Orange County after seeing another day of 100 degree heat. On this night, it was the A’s who looked to be the team zoning in on their 3rd consecutive AL West division title, rather than the Halos who were just plain flat all night long. The only Angel starter not to strike out was Torii Hunter, who went 0-4 and appeared to possibly re-aggravate an abdomonial injury that shelved him for a month earlier this year.
The Rangers beat the Rays to close within 6 games of the Halos. While I am still not worried about this, the Rangers are coming in for a 4 game series and finally have Josh Hamilton back in the lineup who always feasts on Angels pitching. The magic number for the Angels to clinch the division is still at 4 as the club will look tomorrow to improve on that. John Lackey will oppose Dana Eveland the middle game of the 3 game series.
On a separate note, Red Sox starter and Angel nemesis John Lester was drilled by a line drive in the 3rd inning of his terrible start tonight in New York, and had to leave the game. X-rays were negative, but it would just be terrible if for some reason this injury keeps him from being on top of his game come the playoffs, where, unless a miracle for the Rangers does happen, it will be another version of Angels/Red Sox. Hey, one can only hope.
Until next time Angel fans.
A desire from many players on the Angels and furthermore from around major league baseball players in general, is to play meaningful baseball in September. Well, for the 25 guys who wear the Angels uniform, this road trip is as good as it gets.
The Halos hit the road to take on the other top 3 teams in the AL, for what will be the ultimate test for them. The Angels first head to New York for a make up game before shooting to Boston and Texas for 3 games apiece before finally coming home and getting to face the Yankees for 3 more. I think it’s safe to say, that the next 10 games, with an extra emphasis on these first 7 on the road, will make or break the Angels season.
Having a 6 game lead on the division is definitely nice, especially at a time like this. The first game pits the Angels best starting pitcher so far this year, Jered Weaver, against the much over rated Joba Chamberlain. Weaver will be looking for his 16th win and, to put his name in discussions for a possible Cy Young award.
The Angels last homestand concluded yesterday with a 3-2 win over the visiting White Sox. The Angels went 5-1 on the homestand, which also saw them sweep 3 from the Mariners. The Halos once white hot offense has cooled of late, but excellent starting pitching and continued solid bullpen work has translated into wins for the club. I think not only for the playoffs, but even this time of the year, the club would rather see it’s starting pitcher where it’s at, compared to how it had been for the majority of the year. The addition of Scott Kazmir, along with a healthy Joe Saunders and Ervin Santana have made all the difference. Kevin Jepsen, who many would say should get team MVP honors, has been amazing in filling in for the injured Scot Shields.
The Angels offense, on the otherhand, could really use a wake up call. Ever since Vladimir Guerrero came off of the DL and occupied the clean up spot in the lineup, the offense hasn’t been the same. At it’s most lethal, the lineup was patient and didn’t swing at bad pitches. That’s exactly the opposite of Guerrero, who just can’t get away with being that type of player anymore. The bad balls he used to hit for doubles and home runs, are now lazy pop ups and fly balls. Mike Scioscia should really consider relegating him to part time duty, and bumping up Kendre Morales to the 4th spot, and getting Mike Napoli more consistent playing time.
Fasten your seatbelts Angels fans, the next 10 games should all be great. I see the Angels jumping all over Joba tonight.
Until next time Angel fans.
It’s safe to say that more often than not, most anticipated pitcher’s duels end up being anything but. However, on Saturday night in Kansas City, John Lackey and Zack Greinke rolled up their sleeves and squared off in front of a packed house. And, they didn’t disappoint, not even in the slightest.
Greinke went 8 masterful innings, striking out 8, keeping the Angels tied in knots all night long. Greinke left the game after having tossed 125 pitches. Lackey though, was better, going 9 even more impressive innings, and throwing 106 pitches of his own. Yes, Lackey only struck out 4, but those extra pitches he didn’t throw let him go that extra inning that Greinke didn’t. This was the John Lackey that we all know and love, the staff ace that goes out and gets the job done no matter what. The Halos managed to tie the game at 1 when Torii Hunter lashed a two out, two strike single off of Greinke in the 8th. Big John also managed to do this in front of a crowd that would give Greinke a standing ovation on nearly every strike he threw. I mean, the guy would spit a solid loogie and you would hear the applause from various parts of the ballpark.
Lackey did everything possible to keep the team in the game. Combined with the Angels ineffective offense of late (granted they’ve been facing some pretty solid pitching) only magnifies the brilliance of Lackey’s start. The Halos took the field in this game already knowing that the Rangers had lost, briefly pushing the club’s lead in the division to 4 games. With 7 games left against the Rangers, especially considering how much the Angels struggle against the Rangers, at this point of the season, they need to get every game in the standings that they can.
Lackey also continued the Angels awesome starting pitching of late. With the addition of Scott Kazmir, who was more than solid in his club debut in Seattle despite losing along with solid Jered Weaver, Joe Saunders, and Ervin Santana, the rotation as a whole finally appears to be in line. Trusting that the club can hold on and make the playoffs, this rotation, combined with a strong bullpen and torrid offense, this team really does have a chance at making it deep.
As I write this, the game just turned to the bottom of the 10th, still tied at 1. Hopefully Lackey’s efforts weren’t made in vain tonight.
Until next time Angel fans.
The Angels just completed one of their most disappointing homestands of the year, but despite the poor showing, we learned a little bit more about the team. The halos finished the homestand 3-4, and, only managed to split a 4 game series against last place Oakland. The series against Oakland again highlighted the fact that the Angels have been flat out horrible against the AL West this year. However, not is all lost Angel fans. A lot happened during the past week. Most importantly, the club managed to snag Rays lefty starting pitcher Scott Kazmir, who the club had been keeping their eyes on for a couple years now. The move, coming at only the expense of 2 minor leaguers and a player to be named, allows the club to keep the nucleus of big leaguers on the roster, and adding that much needed starting pitcher the club had been looking for. Now, a rotation of Lackey, Weaver, Santana, Saunders and Kazmir, looks mightily impressive. However, it remains to be seen if this will translate into success on the field, as the Angels starting pitching has been the weak link of the team this year. Kazmir has battled injury this year, but appears healthy and has been throwing well of late. Also, Kazmir is under contract for the next 2 years, and if the team can manage to resign John Lackey in the offseason, they would have one of the best rotations in baseball. Speaking of Lackey, on Sunday he picked up his 100th career victory as an Angel. Also on the homestand, Kendry Morales hit his club leading 30th home run of the season, and also set the club record for home runs by a switch hitter. Morales, or K-Mo as he is now being referred to, is starting to show he may deserve more at bats in the 4th spot of the order, rather than 6th where he has been doing his damage all year.
So, the club will head out on the road beginning in Seattle, with a 5 game lead in the division. Despite the club’s poor play of late, they have managed to keep the lead at or near that mark for some time now.
Kazmir will make his debut either Tuesday or Wednesday against the Mariners, which should be interesting.
Until next time Angel fans.
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.
Well, for all you baseball fans hoping to catch a classic pitchers duel, you got one for the first half of the game. From there though, was the complete opposite. This attempt at a pitchers duel was to be between the Tigers Justin Verlander and the Angels Jered Weaver and while they had one going through the first 5 innings, it all ended there. Going into their half of the 6th, the Tigers were nursing a 3-0 lead. 3 pitchers and 3 outs later, the scoreboard now read 10-0 in favor of the visiting team. The inning was highlighted by a Carlos Guillen 3 run home run and a 2 run double by Miguel Cabrera, who had homered earlier off of Weaver. The Halos mounted a mini rally of their own in the home half of the sixth, scoring 4 runs to pull within 10-4, and a 3 run home run by Bobby Abreu in the 8th pulled the score to 10-7, but it just wasn’t in the cards tonight. Kudos though, to the Angels, by battling battling back down 10-0 to at least make the game respectable.
While the game was close, prior to the 6th inning, I was thinking to myself how this is a perfect example of the “good pitching always defeats good hitting” phrase always thrown around. Really though, the phrase should be 99 MPH fastballs courtesy of flamethrower Justin Verlander will beat any kind of hitting, even a team such as the Angels, a team that saw 8 of their starting 9 have averages over .300, and the only one who didn’t, Mike Napoli, was hitting .294.
It should be said, that today was the birthday of Angel pitcher Nick Adenhart, and the start tonight for Jered Weaver, who was to be roommates with Adenhart before the horrific accident that claimed his life, was going to be extra special for him. Unfortunately, things didn’t quite work out the way Weaver would have wanted.
In the end, the Tigers offense proved to be just too much for the Angels pitching. Having just returned from a 10 game road trip going 6-4, and with no day off, you could tell the team was a little tired. And with the way the Tigers offense was so precise, so on point, you would have sworn that these Tigers got a little special training from our friends in Las Vegas.
So, now the Angels lead sits at 5 games, as Texas was off tonight. Tomorrow night, John Lackey will get his 100th career victory as he takes on former Angel Jarrod Wasburn, who was been a total and complete bust since coming over from Seattle at the trading deadline. Let’s hope Wash doesn’t find the form that made him so successful earlier in the season.
Until next time Angel fans.
I believe the best course of action for the entire Minnesota Twins ballclub, is to go to the nearest hospital immeditately. Surely, after the three game series that they just went through, in which they were absolutely owned and demolished by the Halos, it is almost a guarantee that the Twins suffered some sort of lasting effect from the Angels whips and brooms. The Angels, scoring in double digits for the third game in a row, completed the sweep, winning 13-4 and with that, put on an offensive display that has definitely gotten some attention across not only the America League, but across Major League Baseball. The Angles will dearly miss Minnesota, as they scored a combined 35 runs while sweeping the Twins. Jered Weaver was the benefactor today, as he took the hill for the Halos. Weaver powered his way through a potent Twins lineup, setting a personal best by fanning 11 Twins while going 6 1/3 innings to pick up his 11th win of the year. Justin Speier and Shane Loux again, provided shutout relief in support of Weaver.
Offensively, the club was led by the list of usual suspects. Kendry Morales, who is giving Angel fans a reason to say “Mark who?” blasted a pair of three run shots, giving him a team leading in both home runs (23) and RBI (69). When the season started, Kendry was for the most part a question mark, as he never had consistent enough playing time to give the Halos an idea of what exactly they could expect. His play so far this year has been nothing short of spectacular, and a huge reason why the club is where it is right now. Despite all the injuries and uncertainty which has plagued the club all year long, Kendry has been one of the few constants, along with Chone Figgins and Bobby Abreu for the Angels offense. Gary Matthews Jr, Bobby Abreu, Howie Kendrick and Jeff Mathis each had two hits in the victory as well. Sean Rodriguez, is making the most of his starts in left field, blasting a 3 run home run, his 2nd of the year, off of Twins starter Glen Perkins, who was just flat out rocked in his four innings, giving up 12 hits while allowing 9 runs.
There are two things on my mind right now when it comes to the team, and how their playoff chances will fare, trusting they make the playoffs of course. The first and most glaring of these two is wondering if this offense will show up during the postseason? They can be guaranteed of at least facing 2 of the elite starting pitchers in baseball no matter what team they play. The Yankees have Sabathia and Burnett, the Red Sox have Beckett and Lester, Tigers have Verlander and Jackson, etc. It’s always been a given that good pitching beats good hitting, I wonder if that will truly be the case as only time will tell. The second thing on my mind, is if they are peaking too early. Can they realistically be expected to keep scoring in double digits or close to it every night? As much as I want to say yes, it doesn’t appear that way. However, the one thing I’ve learned this year, from this team, is to never say never. They have gone through far too much adversity and come out of it far better than they entered it, which speaks volumes on the character and toughness this team has. In short, these Halos are completely unique – you can’t label them, and just when you think you have them all figured out, they surprise you further. And, might I add, have been such a blast to watch so far this year..
The Rangers beat the Mariners today to keep pace with the Halos, keeping the Angels lead at 4 games. Tomorrow Angel fans, the Halos are off as they travel to Chicago to begin a 3 game series against the White Sox. The White Sox, who currently sit 1.5 games out of first, know they will have their hands full with the Angels, but also desperately need these games to stay in the race in the AL Central. We all know they’ve seen the carnage that was the Angels last series, and seeing how the Twins lost 3 games in the standings in just 3 days. John Lackey will oppose Jose Contreras in the opener.
Until next time Angel fans.