Tagged: Justin Speier

Santana Sparkles, Shuts Down Rays

Tonight’s game was a complete opposite of last night’s offensive extravaganza that saw the Angels win 8-7.  Ervin Santana completely manhandled and shut down a powerful Rays lineup, going the distance while allowing only 3 hits to get the complete game shutout.  This also happened to be his first home win of the year, and it couldn’t have come at a better time for the Halos.  Santana, to be blunt, has been wildly inconsistent all year long, and in a week that saw the Halos put lefty starter Joe Saunders on the DL, this is something that the club really needed.  It remains to be seen though, if Santana can build off of this start and provide some much needed consistency for the club and the starting staff in particular.

Rays starter David Price performed much better than his line shows.  The lengthly lefthander carried a no hitter into the fifth inning, an inning in which, the wheels started falling off.  Reggie Willits helped lead to the demise of Price after a clutch 2 RBI single with two outs in the fifth and was driven in by the next batter, Chone Figgins, who singled to put the Halos up 3-0.  Jeff Mathis put the icing on the cake with a bases loaded double off the left field fence, driving in 3 and putting the Angels up to stay, 6-0, and sending Price off to an early, lonesome shower.

The Rangers were shutout by the Indians today, so now the Halos lead the division by 5 games.  In the series finale tommorow, Trevor Bell of the Angels will make his major league debut, and will be opposed by the Rays Jeff Niemann.  It will be an early start for the game, at 12:35.  The club is also expecting to see the return of centerfielder Torii Hunter, which will be a much welcomed sight for the club.  Justin Speier, who had been very inconsistent in the pen all year long, was released today as the club made room on the roster for Bell.   

On a separate note, it was great to see the Tigers Rick Porcello throw the charging Kevin Youkillis to the ground during the benches clearing brawl.  I hope he gets a nice fat suspension for his actions. 

Until next time Angel fans.

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Angels Feast on Twins Again, Complete Sweep

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.

Napoli, Bullpen, Carry Angels in Extras over  Twins

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     

 

Indians Relentless in Attack, Defeat Halos

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.

 

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.

Santana Sparkles, Angels Beat A’s

Ervin Santana’s outing Thursday night brought from the Angels brass and fans alike, a huge sigh of relief, as the right hander went 8 solid innings, yielding only one run on three hits and striking out four to earn his second win of the year.   Santana looked like the Santana of old, pitching with poise, confidence, and a wicked curveball that stifled the A’s all night long.  If this is the Ervin that we can expect to see in the 2nd half, the rest of the AL West better take notice, as a rotation featuring him, Lackey, Weaver and Saunders will surely be a force to be dealt with.

The Halos picked up right where they left off prior to the all-star break, as they collected 13 hits and sent Oakland started Dallas Braden to an early shower after 5 innings.  Kendre Morales hit his 16th home run of the year,  and first from the right side in the 2nd inning.  Another Halo outburst in the 4th, keyed by an RBI singles from Robb Quinlan and Erick Aybar, and a 2 RBI double from All-Star Chone Figgins was more than enough to earn the Angels their fourth win in a row, and an important game one win in this series.

The only area of concern, which has been all year for the club, was surprise surprise, the bullpen.  Justin Speier was brought in to get the final three outs, however he couldn’t manage to retire one batter, giving up three hits before Brian Fuentes had to come in and clean things up, limiting the A’s to only one run in the frame.  Had this been a close game, the only thing Speier would have been credited with doing would have been causing many Halo fans ulcers.  

Joe Saunders takes the ball for game two in this series.  Saunders, who hasn’t been on top of his game lately, hopefully used the All-Star break to clear his mind and get ready for a strong second half.

 

Until next time Angel fans.