The Angels had no business winning this game. Down 3-0 before the seats were warm, and down 5-3 heading into the 9th both serve as example enough. Problem is though, someone forot to tell the Halos. Before the night was over, the Angels would have earned their 6th victory in a row, and their 31st comeback win of the year, stunning Joe Nathan and the Twins.
The Twins, who got beat around like a bad little league team during their last series against Oakland, looked more like the Twins of old in game one of this four game series Thursday night in Anaheim. Jerrod Weaver managed to recover from allowing 3 runs in the first, finishing with 7 gutsy innings, and putting the club in position to have a chance down the stretch. Two of those three runs in the first, came courtesy of Angel killer Jason Kubel, who hit his 17th home run of the season, a two run shot deep into the right field seats. The Angels were held in check by Twins starter Scott Baker for the first four innings, although the Halos returned the favor, putting Baker through a marathon 30+ pitches in the fifth which would end up being his last, as the Angels scored twice, cutting the lead to 3-2. Each team tallied single runs in the 6th, and that’s the way the game stayed until the ninth. The Angels bullpen, which had been nearly perfect on the road trip, allowed a run to the twins, courtesy of Kevin Jepson.
And then the mighty Joe Nathan trotted in from the bullpen to slam the door shut. The Angels however, pushed back, and how fitting, that Gary Matthews Jr and Howie Kendrick provided both two out RBI singles to tie the game. These two Halos in particular have had their fair share of struggles this year, on the field and in the press, even in this blog. Brian Fuentes held the Twins at bay in the tenth, and then the Angel offense leapt at their chance to finish things off the good old walk-off way.
Chone Figgins started the 10th off with his 3rd hit of the game, and was promptly sacrificed over by Brandon Wood. Bobby Abrue was then immediately given a free pass via the intentional walk, and Kendre Morales, who saw his 20 game hitting streak snapped, made the 2nd out of the inning. Up stepped Mike Napoli, who has a knack of providing the big hit of late, as his two run home run in Kansas City in yesterday’s game knotted things late. He didn’t disappoint this time either. Napoli drove a ball deep into the right center field gap, scoring Figgins and thus began a celebration on the field of Napoli trying to dodge the onslaught of Angel players chasing him down, only to be caught on the infield grass and dog-piled by the team, as the Angel fans went wild.
Angel fans, this game was a better test of the club than any of the games just completed on this 7 game road trip that saw the Angels go 6-1. Reason being, is that the Twins have for the most part, a solid team. The “Killer J’s” (Jason Kubel, Justin Morneau, Joe Mauer, Joe Nathan) are all premier players in the league, and the fact that the Angels were able to come back against a closer such as Nathan, speaks volumes. It’s also very apparent that the patience that Bobby Abreu exhibits in every single at bat, is spreading to the rest of the team.
Game 2 of the series Friday, will see once promising starter Francisco Liriano face off against John Lackey. With the Rangers off on Thursday, the Angels now enjoy a 3.5 game lead in the AL West. On a day when Mark Buehrle of the White Sox threw a perfect game, the Angels also had a little magic up their sleeve.
Until next time Angel fans.
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 tale of two cities, is not only a literary classic, but also can best describe the last two starts by the Angels Ervin Santana. While dominating and overpowering during his last start in Oakland, Santana struggled at times (reverting back to his form so far for most of this injury filled year) against the Royals Tuesday, going 6 innings while allowing 5 runs on 8 hits, but was just good enough to earn his 3rd win of the season. This start was a letdown to those out there hoping to see some consistency out of Santana, but it just wasn’t the case. Santana was really the only not-so-bright spot in an otherwise solid victory for the halos, as they settled in to take game 1 of their doubleheader against the Royals.
What, may you ask were the bright spots in this victory? The Angels 4-7 hitters lit up Sir Sidney Ponson and his supporting cast, to the tune of a combined 9-17, scoring 7 of the 8 runs for the Halos and driving in 4 of them. Kendre Morales, Mike Napoli, (who hit his 12th moon shot of the season) Erick Aybar and Gary Matthews Jr. were those 4-7 hitters, and got the Angels started early, and carried them in the latter innings to victory. Not to be outdone, Darren Oliver and Kevin Jepsen – armed with his newly taught power slider, shut down the Royals and handed the ball off to Brian Fuentes, who picked up his major league leading 29th save of the season.
Early on, the Halos jumped all over Sir Sidney Ponson, grabbing an early 4-1 lead before Santana let the Royals back in, keyed by a 2-run home run by Billy Butler, giving the Royals a brief 5-4 lead that they would soon relinquish.
Game 2 will see Sean O’sullivan get the nod against Bruce Chen, and I really don’t see the Halos doing anything other than sweeping this doubleheader against the struggling Royals.
Until next time Angel fans.
In case anyone missed it, apparently the powers that be reorganized the typical calendar and swapped Christmas 25th, with July 8th, as Angel pitching was lit up like a Christmas tree, and gifts were be given to nearly every Ranger hitter. Let me mention this before I forget, the Rangers walloped the Angels 8-1. The Angels pitching was in such the giving mood, that they gift wrapped three home runs to Andruw Jones, and one each for Marlon Byrd and some guy named Taylor Teagarden. Try to bear with me Angel fans, I didn’t really just make up that name, there really is a guy on the Rangers named Taylor Teagarden.. it’s not the newest brand of tea being sold at stores across the southland. I will try to get through this as nicely as I can for you, much like the Angels pitchers strategy Wednesday night – nice and easy.
Ervin Santana, again, struggled mightily. The right hander entered the game with a fabulous 1-4 record and an ERA of 7.43 – which only got worse after his start. After going four uninspired innings, giving up seven hits and six runs, (3 home runs) the ball was handed over to Rich Thompson who fared no better, allowing two home runs of his own in 1 1/3 innings. Kevin Jepson and Matt Palmer apparently were the only Angels pitchers who don’t celebrate Christmas, delivered solid relief.
The Halos were already in a bind going into the game, missing Vladimir Guerrero and Torii Hunter who both sat out with injuries. It remains to be seen the severity of Hunter’s, but it more than likely will cause the leader of the team to miss the All-Star game and possibly more time. Gary Matthews, who is always quick to say he deserves more playing time, again, didn’t come through when needed. Gary, perhaps next time you want to cry about playing time, you’ll look at your anemic average and overall play and figure it out. Oh Juan Rivera, how you will be counted on heavily until he’s back.
Also, while I’m at it, I think the “vote Figgy” campaign is officially over (as I write this, Rex Hudler, among others, is still campaigning for Figgins), and wonder how much of this talk distracted the club in what was the most important series of the season. The Rangers continued to dominate, improving their mark to 7-2 this year again the Halos. This year’s Angels also are struggling agains the rest of the AL West this year – a part of their game they have excelled at in seasons past.
So, Angel fans, here come the Yanks. Here comes Mark “insert your very own expletive here!” Teixeira, and the rest of the newly competetive Yankees. I truly hope the Angels show up for this series, as they should be embarassed over how easily the Rangers walked over them in this last one. Going into the All-Star break, a series win would be a great momentum builder heading into the second half. Joe Saunders will take the hill against over-hyped Joba Chamberlain in the first game. Saunders has been mediocre at best lately, and a solid start will do well to quell some fears amongst the Angels faithful as we head into the second half. As for me, I’m going to go drink a few beers – I hope you’ll join me.
Until next time Angel fans.
This time, (as best put by Sasha Baren-Cohen in his famous movie, Borat) he get this. This, as in revenge against a Texas Ranger team that put him through his worst outing of the season last start out, in which the Rangers beat up Weaver and the Angels, 9-7. This time however, Weaver pitched seven solid innings, giving up three earned runs while fanning nine to earn his ninth win of the season, and, spoiled the return of Ranger’s Slugger Josh Hamilton, who had missed nearly 5 weeks with an abdominal injury. Even allowing two runs in the first wasn’t too much of a problem for Weaver and the Halos, as they demonstrated for the third game in a row, that being down early is no reason to hit the panic button. In fact, it’s quickly becoming a calling card for this first place club.
After spotting the Rangers 2 runs, Jeff Mathis, in the bottom of the second, put the Angels up for good, hitting a three-run home run off the Ace of the Rangers staff, Kevin Millwood, who, unbeknownst to him, was embarking on a titanic of a start, which would be his worst start of the year, and tie a career high with nine earned runs allowed in 5 innings of work. Mathis’ home run came on yet another fastball from Millwood, his sixth in a row that he threw him, and was neatly deposited near the rock pile in left center field. Chone Figgins, always the table setter, walked in three consecutive plate appearances, which Torii Hunter, Vladimir Guerrero, Juan Rivera and Kendre Morales were all too eager to cash in for runs. In the end, clutch hitting by the teeth of the Angels order (the Angels 3-5 hitters went a combined 7-12 with 5 RBI’s) proved to be the Rangers downfall, and was just what the Angels and Weaver needed to start this all too important series which now sees the Angels in sole posession of first place.
What was once the achilles heel for the Angels this year, it’s bullpen – turned in another scoreless relief outing, with Justin Speier and Kevin Jepsen each throwing an inning of shutout baseball.
Tomorrow’s game pits big John Lackey against little known Dustin Nippert, who will make his first start of the season. You can be sure that revenge will be on the mind of Lackey, as his first start of the season was cut short against these Rangers back on May 18th, after only 2 pitches. Pay special attention to his matchups against Ian Kinsler, who snapped an 0-24 streak with a seventh inning home run on Monday.
Until next time Angel Fans
Let’s be honest Angel fans, the halos not only lost their 2nd straight to the Rangers, but they practically gave this one to Texas on a silver platter. Granted, Hank Blalock’s walk off home run was what won the game, but four huge baserunning blunders by the Angels set Hank up for his mighty shot.
Juan Rivera, despite hitting his most clutch home run in his big league career of Frank Francisco (who hasn’t seen anything fly so fast out of the park since he threw a chair at a fan in Oakland years ago) in the 9th to tie things up, only to have their heart’s broken moments later, was involved in two of these all by himself. And when you thought the worst was over on the basepaths with those, we then witnessed Vlad Guerrero decide to try to steal second while the Angels were trying to get something brewing, in the top of the 7th, only to be thrown out while Torii Hunter was on 3rd. This was followed by Chone Figgins leading off the ninth and trying to stretch a double into a triple only to change his mind halfway in between 2nd and 3rd, resulting in the first out of the inning.
Jerrod Weaver looked like the solid Jerrod Weaver we’ve seen all year long, but over the course of the next two innings, he did his best big brother impersonation, finally being taken out to Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire” (just like Joe Saunders the night before) lasting 5 1/3 innings, and yielding 7 runs on 8 hits. Kevin Jepson and his soon to be demoted to AAA 12.34 ERA then came in, allowing 2 more hits before the last out was mercifully made. Matt Palmer provided two innings of solid relief, only to hand the ball to another of the bullpen regulars, Justin Speier, who put the final touches on this Angels Masterpiece. Despite the baserunning blunders, something has got to be done with the bullpen. It seems as if every lead is as safe as a bulldog under Michael Vick’s care – and how much longer this is going to be tolerated is anyone’s guess, but hopefully not too much longer.
Furthermore, Angel fans, the halos are 1-5 vs Texas and 10-14 against the AL West so far this year – typcially something, much like their bullpen work, they are much better at. Let’s see if Vlad can keep up the hot hitting away from Texas, as the Angels come back home to open a huge 10 game homestand against Baltimore, Texas, and the hated Yanks. John Lackey will get things started, taking the ball in game one tomorrow night.
Until next time Angel fans.