For any fan out there that isn’t a fan of good starting pitching, this game was definitely for you. Rays starter Matt Garza didn’t make it out of the 4th inning and Angels starter Sean O’sullivan didn’t fare much better, not making it out of the 5th. Despite the ineffectiveness of each team’s starting pitching though, this was quite an entertaining game.
Vladimir Guerrero reached a milestone on Monday night.
In a great example of baseball irony, Vlad hit his 400th career home run off of the right field foul pole. Earlier in the game he hit #399 off of an umbrella next to the center field cameraman. Kendry Morales kept pace, hitting 2 dingers of his own as well to help the Angels battle back from an early deficit, only to keep watching the Rays battle back to tie things up. Three separate times the Rays fought back to tie when the Angels had taken the lead the previous inning. However though, the Rays didn’t have one last comeback in their system, and the when the dust had finally settled, the Halos came away victorious, winning game 1 of this series 8-7.
Brian Fuentes came in to slam the door shut, retiring the Rays in order to record his 32nd save of the season. The save didn’t come easy, as Juan Rivera robbed Ben Zobrist of a game tying home run, near the short fence on the left field foul line, for the final out. A huge relief outing was turned in by Kevin Jepsen, who threw 2 innings of scoreless relief. Jepsen has been very effective of late, which was a big difference from how he was earlier in the year.
With both the Angels and the Rays having hopes this year of making the playoffs, this game exposed both of each team’s achilles heal. Starting pitching. Plain and simple, both teams need to solve this problem before the playoffs are reached.
Rays shortstop Jason Bartlett came within a single of being the second major leaguer on the day to hit for the cycle, as Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki had done so earlier in the evening.
The Rangers had the day off, so the Angels lead is now at 4 games. Game 2 tomorrow will see young Ray lefty phenom David Price take on the Angels Ervin Santana. Each starter hasn’t been pitching up to their talent, it will be very interesting to see how each will do. Both teams used their bullpens heavily tonight, it would be nice to see Ervin go at least 7 innings.
Until next time Angel fans.
The Angels, simply put, beat the cream filled stuffing out of the Twinkies, scoring 11 runs for the second time in as many nights in Minnesota, beating the Twins 11-6. In fact, a performance this hot on a Saturday night was heard to make John Travolta jealous. Ok, all jokes aside, the Angels crushed Twins pitching all night long like Stevie Wonder. Ok seriously, all jokes aside, the Angels offense is scary. Scary, because they’re not only coming at you with batters 1-9 in the lineup, but scary because they’re doing this without two of the biggest mashers they have, as Torii Hunter and Vladimir Guerrero both continue to heal from injuries.
Where do we start? Well, I’m sure Mike Scioscia and staff are breathing a little easier after Joe Saunders tossed 6 innings, only allowing 4 runs on 9 hits. Not that this is a strong start by any means, but we need to acknoweldge progress when it’s made, even if it is measured in baby steps. Saunders recovered after 2 rough innings much like Ervin Santana did the night before, to win for the first time in over a month, his 9th win of the season. The game was in question going into the 6th inning with the Angels up 6-4, but the Halos offense blasted the game wide open, keyed by 3 home runs in the inning. The first of the three was courtesy of Maicer Izturis, a 3 run blow, and then Juan Rivera and Kendry Morales went back to back, giving the team a nice 7 run cushion that the Twins couldn’t recover from. And no, Twins fans, tonight wasn’t a case of dejavu’. Also amongst the offensive contributors were Gary Matthews Jr. and Mike Napoli who each had 3 hits in the attack. Napoli now has 7 hits in the first two games of the series. Sean Rodriguez, making his first career start in left field, had two hits and scored twice as well.
Tomorrow, the Halos go for the sweep as Jered Weaver takes on Glen Perkins. Weaver went a solid 7 innings in his last start against the Twins, back on July 23rd, and didn’t figure in the decision. The Rangers finally lost a game, to Seattle 7-2 and now trail the Angles by 4 games in the AL West. Also, the Halos now own the best record in the American League, at 62-40. It’s amazing that for much of the first half of the season, the Angels hovered right around the .500 mark, and due to their torrid play of late, claim the top spot in the league.
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.
On this Monday night, not even John Wayne himself could have been much help against these Indians. Simply put, the Tribe was on the war path. The Angels held them as best they could, at bay for eight innings. The ninth inning though, was when the Indians broke through the Angel lines, scalping Brian Fuentes for four runs before an out was recorded, keyed by back to back home runs by Victor Marinez, (a three run shot), and Jhonny Peralta, (a solo shot) to knock Fuentes out of the game, and the Indians enjoying a 8-6 lead after entering the ninth down 6-4.. With how great Fuentes had been lately, you had to figure he was due for a bad night. Once the dust had settled, the Tribe had collected 20 hits, with four apiece coming from Shin-Soo Choo and Jhonny Peralta. Every single Indians starter had at least one hit. And, all of this came as Indians first baseman Ryan Garko was traded just before the game to the San Francisco Giants. Yeah, it was one of those nights. Let me re-cap for you, how the night started, as initially the Angels looked like they would hang on for the victory.
With his last start before the July 31st trade deadline, Joe Saunders showed the Angels something. He showed them, that they need to go out and get a starting pitcher of some sort because he, along with Ervin Santana, comprise 40% of the Angels starting rotation, and right now, neither of them can be trusted to go out and get the job done. That’s a big potential land mine for a club looking to keep the Rangers, who really are closer than they appear, out of sight in their rear view mirror. How Saunders didn’t give up more than 4 runs in his 5 innings of work (if that’s what you want to call it) is beyond me. Justin Speier, Darren Oliver and Kevin Jepsen all managed to throw scoreless relief, wiggling out of jams of their own, and Brian Fuentes, well, we already covered that.
Speaking of the offense, Juan Rivera came back to the lineup in the DH role, after missing the previous 8 games with a hamstring injury. Rivera didn’t show any signs of rust, hitting a home run in his first plate appearance in the 2nd inning, and was promptly followed by Kendry Morales and Mike Napoli who hit solo home runs of their own,as the threesome went back to back to back, giving the Angels a 3-2 lead. Morales added another solo home run off Indians starter Carl Pavano in the 6th, giving him a club leading 20 for the year. Despite the showing of power, the better offensive team was clearly the Indians, as they battered Angel pitching all night long. In fact, the Tribe did a pretty good Angel impersonation of their own, as this formula has been the blueprint for many Angel victories during their recent hot streak.
Kerry Wood came into the ninth to slam the door on the Halos and pick up the save, as the Indians held onto an 8-6 victory. The Rangers on the other hand, beat the Tigers, meaning the Angel lead is now sitting at 2.5 games. It’s somewhat hard to believe, that after the club’s recent play, that the Rangers are still hanging around. These Rangers are doing their best to show they’re not typical of past Rangers teams, who usually would fade out of contention along with the summer heat.
So, where do we go from here Angel fans? I think it’s pretty apparent that the club needs to take a pretty serious look at getting some sort of reliable starting pitching to help down the stretch. The only names we’ve been hearing that are on the market have been Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, and ex-Halo Jarrod Washburn. If anything, the recent hot play by the club has only been masking their true needs. Perhaps, this game will allow the front office to see the club for what it truly is, and in the playoffs, it all starts with strong starting pitching.
In Game 2 of this series, the Halos hope to cool down the streaking Indians who have won a season high 5 games in a row as Indians lefty David Huff takes on Jered Weaver. Weaver will be searching for his 11th win of the season.
Until next time Angel fans.
They say all good things come to an end. And in the Angels case, it meant the end to their 8 game winning streak as they dropped the final game of a four game series to the visiting Minnesota Twins Sunday afternoon, 10-1. The Twins leave town, still licking their wounds from a brutal road trip, but managing to take with them some dignity in avoiding the four game sweep at the hands of the red hot Halos.
Angels starting pitcher Ervin Santana again disappointed, lasting only 3 2/3 inning to pick up the loss. It should be noted, that Santana has yet to pick up a victory this year at the Big A, a place where he has normally pitched very well. Santana surrendered a first inning home run to Twins slugger Justin Morneau, the first of two for him on the day, and from there, things only got worse. An Angel lineup filled with supersubs who have done nothing but overacheive in the absence of starters Torii Hunter, Vladimir Guerrero and Juan Rivera, helped make Twins starter Anthony Swarzak look like the best thing since sliced bread, as the big right hander went 6 2/3 innings to pick up his 3rd win of the season. There was definitely an attitude amongst the Angel fans that the Halos, who have 32 comeback wins this year, would somehow get themselves back into the game as has been the case for nearly the past month, but that comeback never came. Besides a solo home run by Kendre Morales in the 4th inning, the Angels, for the most part, went down faster than a North Korean Missile.
Combine the Angels loss with a Rangers victory over the Royals, and the Angels lead over Texas now sits at 3.5 games. The Halos next welcome in the Cleveland Indians, who have been heating up of late, winners of four in a row, but are still sitting 12 games back in the AL Central. The Indians have been involved in many trade deadline rumors involving last year’s Cy Young Winner Cliff Lee, and catcher/first baseman Victor Martinez. Game One of this series will see disabled list All Star and Yankee extortioner Carl Pavano take on Joe Saunders. Saunders, who hasn’t won in over a month will undoubtedly be looking to regain last year’s form as the Angels and Indians hook up for the first time this year.
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.
The Angels announced today that both Vladimir Guerrero and Torii Hunter were placed on the disabled list, effective until July 22nd. So, what exactly does this mean? No, don’t hit the panic button just yet, (trust me, I thought about it) but these next couple of weeks are going to be huge for the club, obviously. Brought up to replace them on the team were Brandon Wood and Bobby Wilson. For Mike Scioscia, he’s got some decisions to make. Will he move Chone Figgins to second, and give Brandon Wood some solid time at third? Or will he pull a Sean Rodriguez with him? If you remember, Sean Rodriguez only got a handful of starts after he was called up for Howie Kendrick. If Wood can catch fly balls, why not throw him in left or right field? With the call up of Bobby Wilson, you would tend to believe that Mike Napoli is going to see some time at DH.
The time is now for several Angels. Gary Matthews Jr., will get the playing time he has been lobbying for since last year. Howie Kendrick will be counted on to help pick up the slack on offense. Also, Juan Rivera and Kendre Morales will be depended on to keep producing along with Bobby Abreu.
This next couple of weeks can very easily mean the division. We’ll have to wait and see.
Until next time Angel fans.