Tagged: Justin Verlander

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. 

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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 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.

Lackey and Kendrick Lead Angels Over Tribe

John Lackey was the man Wednesday afternoon in Anaheim.  He did what none of the four previous Angel starting pitchers have been able to do, which was provide excellent starting pitching on a day that the Angels really needed it.  Nevermind the fact that he also did it during a day game, where the ball always carries better at the Big A.  Lackey held the recently surging Indian offense in check throughout – giving up only 3 hits and 1 run while fanning 8, as the Halos went on to win, 9-3 .  This was definitely what the Halos needed as they wrapped up the homestand, finishing 5-2, and taking 2 of 3 from the Indians.  Lackey did what is expected out of an ace – taking the ball when the club needed it and giving them exactly what was expected.  I’m already starting to wonder how the team will recover without him next year if he isn’t resigned. 

Lackey had plenty of help from the offense, especially from one Howie Kendrick.  Howie single handedly picked up Lackey all by himself, going 3-4 with 5 RBI, including his 6th home run of the season, a two run shot off Cleveland reliever Tony Sipp.   Kendry Morales and Bobby Abreu continued their hot play, each chipping in with 2 hits of their own.  For having been sent down to the minors earlier this year due to his poor hitting, it was great to see Howie break out the big guns today and give us all a glimpse of what the young 2nd baseman can do.   

Indians starter Aaron Laffey never did recover from giving up 2 runs while throwing 40+ pitches in the first, as he was sent off of the reservation after not being able to record an out in the 4th, ulitmately giving up 7 runs to the Halos. 

Perhaps the Indians were a little distracted today, as before the game, last year’s Cy Young winner Cliff Lee, along with Ben Francisco, were shipped to Philadelphia for 4 minor leaguers. I’m glad I’m not an Indian fans, as the Tribe has now traded away Mark DeRosa, Rafeal Betancourt, Ryan Garko, along with the two traded today.  Indians fans, if I’m missing someone else please help me out, but you have to wonder how a team so close to the World Series two years ago, has apparently given up and returned back to a rebuilding mode.  Keep in mind, last year Casey Blake and C.C. Sabathia were shipped away.  You have to feel bad for the stars left on the team, especially Grady Sizemore, who you know they aren’t going to trade.  Most importantly though, you have to feel for the poor Cleveland fans, who can’t be none too happy about any of this.  You can imagine lots of firewater is going to be drank on the team’s jet and in the city of Cleveland tonight.

Tomorrow, Halo fans, the Angels are off.  They then embark on a road trip to Minnesota and Chicago.  Hopefully at some point during the trip, they will welcome back Torii Hunter back from the disabled list.  The Rangers, who for the moment are 3 games back in the division, wrap up their series with Detroit and face their ace, Justin Verlander.  I don’t root for the Tigers often, but I will be doing so tonight.  The Rangers then host the Mariners before going on the road to Oakland.  The Angels will return home from their road trip to face the Rangers in what you can expect will be hands down, the biggest series of the year.  It will be very interesting to see what both the Angels and Rangers do up until the trade deadline.  With Boston now reportedly in the sweepstakes for Roy Halladay, the next few days will be interesting.  Let it also be noted, that after 100 games of this season, the Angels are 60-40.  

Perhaps it’s a little bit of paranoia on my end, but both Mike Napoli and Erick Aybar were both out of today’s lineup.  Granted, it could have been a regular rest day for them, but with all the trade winds swirling the Big A lately, I wonder if potentially either of them are on the verge of being traded, as generally on days players are traded, they are not put in the lineup.   

Unitl next time Angel fans.