Tagged: John Lackey

A’s Strike Victory, Defeat Angels 3-0

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. 

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Different Team, Same Result for Halos

Halo fans, for the 2nd consecutive night, the Angels were beaten by an overrated starter.  Also, the team’s defense, which is normally solid, played a huge role in this loss.  After Joba Chamberlain kept them in check for 4 innings the night before (and if anyone feels the need to argue with me the fact that he isn’t overrated, please tell me someone else in recent baseball history who has gotten so much attention and done virtually nothing), Daisuke Matsuzaka did the trick tonight, keeping the Angels bat’s silent, as the Red Sox won, 4-1. 

The matchup Tuesday definitely had a playoff type feel to it.  But that’s not a good thing Angel fans.  This playoff feel was really just a reminder of how much the Angels choke when it comes to the Red Sox.  What Donnie Moore and the club back in 1986 experienced is still happening 23 years later.  From the beginning, the Angels acted like their offense, which, what feels like ages ago was almost a guarantee of scoring 10 runs a game, was going to be as lethargic as Oprah Winfrey after a hot fudge sundae.  You could just see that unless a small miracle happened, it would be hard to scratch even one run across the board.  The only Angel who deserves no fault is John Lackey.  He pitched his heart out for 7 2/3 innings only to get absolutely no backing by the offense.  Angels, if this is the same song and dance against the Red Sox we are going to see in the first round, just tell me now so I can save myself from the mulitiple ulcers this will cause and the years I will lose on my life.  Tell me now. 

The Angels should be thanking their lucky stars that the Texas Rangers too have forgotten how to score runs.  Having lost the first 2 games in pathetic fashion on this most important trip, the Rangers have also dropped their last 2 games to keep the Angels lead in the division at 6 games. 

As a die hard Angel fan, I am starting to develop that ever so familiar pit in my stomach feeling that comes around this time of year.  When is this team going to play to it’s full potential when it matters most?  Maybe I just expect too much.  I mean, they can barely manage to get through their own division – at times it amazes me how they have the record that they do, seeing as they generally don’t show up for the big games.

Let it be known, the Red Sox beat the Angels rather easily without Kevin Youkilis and Victor Martinez in the lineup – 2 guys you know we will see in the first round.  Oh yeah, and instead of getting Daisuke, we will get an all you can eat buffet of Josh Beckett and Jon Lester… Just food for thought Angel fans.

Now, I drink some beers and try to relax until tomorrow night’s game.  Wherever you are Angel fans, have one with me.

Until next time Angel fans. 

Lackey vs. Greinke

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. 

Angels Hit the Road With Lots to Prove

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. 

Saunders Returns, Halos Avoid Sweep, 4-2.

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. 

Angels Comeback Falls Short, Tigers Win 10-7

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.

Angels Scalped by Tribe, 11-3

For the first five innings Thursday night, Angels starter John Lackey looked to be having another dependable John Lackey type of start.  But in the 6th, the Indians circled the Angels wagons one too many times, exploding for 7 runs to break a 1-1 tie and put the game out of reach.

The Angels lineup had a bit of an off night, and well, with the way they have been playing of late, it’s ok.  Kendry Morales managed to add his team leading 27th home run of the season, a towering shot to right, but by the time it was hit, the game was already out of reach. 

The loss ended the team’s 5 game winning streak as they head into Toronto to wrap up the 10 game road trip already with a 5-2 record.  Sean O’Sullivan takes the mound in the opener.  His start will be a very important one as, the Angels rookies that had been carrying the team earlier in the year, have now, of late, been somewhat of a sore spot.  Trevor Bell did get his first major league win in this last series against Cleveland, but it wasn’t a very pretty one.  With Joe Saunders getting closer to coming off the disabled list, there will be one spot left open and both O’Sullivan, Bell, or perhaps a dark horse will be shooting for.

The Rangers shot up the Twins to pull within 5 1/2 games behind the Angels but right now it appears that their eyes are more on their wild card position rather than catching the mighty Halos.  The Rangers trail the hated Red Sox by 1 game for the coveted wild card spot. 

Until next time Angel fans.