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.
I would like to think the goal for a starting pitcher is to not only get credited with a win in each start, but to at least put their club in a position to come out victorious. However, that simple notion alone is proving to be next to impossible for the Angels Joe Saunders this year. Tonight, in what was the first game of the most important series of the season, Saunders didn’t even get out of the 2nd inning. Yes Halo fans you heard me right, the 2nd inning. Saunders gave up 5 runs before the line was closed on him, and the Angel relievers that followed didn’t do much better, as Texas continues to own Angel pitching this year. It was reported that Saunders had tightness in his shoulder, I would swear that it might actually be located in his neck, from having to turn around so quickly as ball after ball was crushed off of him. It remains to be seen if this is something that just started bothering him today, or possibly if this is something that has been going on for some time, but based on his performance so far this year, I would tend to believe this has been something he’s been dealing with for some time.
All in all, the Rangers mashed 5 home runs off of the Angels, and due to my extreme dislike of the Rangers, I will leave those players name out of this blog for tonight…. However I will mention that the ageless wonder who is Omar Vizquel, went 4-6 with one of those homers in the victory.
The Angels did make a brief run at getting back into the game, scoring 4 runs in the 7th, keyed by Maicer Izturis’ 3 run home run to pull the Halos within 4, but that is as close as they would come as Angel fans were treated to Ranger rookie Neftali Feliz, who lit up the jugs gun by throwing 100 mph to Kendry Morales. Unfortunately the only fireworks provided tonight came from the Texas Rangers bats, and from the actual firework show after the game.
The Angels better lay off the bottle tonight because tomorrow is a day game. Their lead now sits at 3.5 games, and if they don’t get their act together, are very seriously looking at having the lead trimmed further before the Rangers leave town. Jered Weaver, who has been the Angels best starter all year long, will face the Rangers Kevin Millwood. The Angels hit Millwood around the last time he started in Anaheim, and hope to give him a case of dejavu’ on Saturday as well. This is a great weekend of baseball for all fans, as the Yankees and Red Sox, 1st and 2nd place in the AL East respectively, aren’t the only teams in 1st and 2nd place doing battle within the same division.
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
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
The Angels game between the Twins on Saturday afternoon can best be described as a much anticipated boxing match. Both sides jabbing at each other early, as the Twins jump ahead 2-0 after Jason Kubel’s third inning home run. However, the Angels were all business to start the fourth round, I mean inning. Chone Figgins came out swinging, landing a sweet left uppercut that ended up in the right field stands for his third homer of the season. Angel after Angel followed, landing jabs and various combinations of their own. Twins starter Nick Blackburn, who had set the first nine Angels down, was quickly on the ropes and throwing a tantrum in the dugout as the knockout blow was provided by the mighty Maicer Izturis, who landed a left uppercut of his own, this time off of R.A. Dickey, a three run shot to right that sealed the Twins fate, and secured the 8th victory in a row for the Halos, as they went on to win 11-5. Twins skipper Ron Gardenhire remarked that the Twins needed to “get back” to their brand of baseball, and that, in a nutshell, describes exactly what the Angels do to you. The Angles make you play their game, bottom line. They do this in the form of going 1st to 3rd relentlessly, getting runners over when needed, and attacking you in waves that would make killer bees look mild. Combine this with a newfound solid bullpen and decent starting pitching, and you get a club that is on an absolute tear. Let’s not mention that really all that you hear about in the media is how hot the Phillies and Yankees are. The Angels like it this way. And so do their fans.
Matt Palmer pushed his record to 8-1, after getting his first start after many bullpen appearances. Palmer, in usual Palmer fashion, did enough to keep the team in the game, and again was awarded like an only child of rich parents on Christmas, with an abundance of offensive support. The bullpen as a whole, did the job, minus Shane Loux who is still getting a little rust off after a long stay on the DL, and in a game like this, worked out great for the Halos.
On the offensive side of things, other than the home runs by Figgins and Izturis, (who had two hits each, respectively) Erick Aybar and Howie Kendrick each added two hits of their own. Not to be outdone, Bobby Abreu collected three htis. The only Angel starter not to have a hit, was Gary Matthews Jr.
However Angel fans, all may not be 100% well with the team. With the Phillies apparently not willing to meet the trade demands of the Blue Jays in their attempt to ship Roy Halladay, the Angels now find themselves as potential landing site for the Jays ace. It is rumored that players that the Jays want in return, range from Erick Aybar, Mike Napoli, Joe Saunders and possibly Jered Weaver. Would Tony Reagins dare ship away the likes of Aybar, Napoli, or Weaver? Granted Halladay will be under contract until the end of next year, so we won’t be renting a player which was the case with Mark Teixeira last year, but, with the way these young players have become such an integral part of the success this year, it would be very hard to see them go. I personally think the Angels should operate from the standpoint that the Jays will never get as much as they can for Halladay as they will right now. With that being said, if the Blue Jays can’t find someone to meet their trade demands, and have to hold onto him, Halladay’s value this time next year will be much, much less. Halladay has already told the club that he isn’t going to sign an extension and will test free agency, so they need to get rid of him. They need to trade him now. There is no need for the Halos to meet their demands because if they don’t trade him, the Blue Jays will ultimately lose out in the end. Plus, I would like to see what these Angels can do, given the chance. Imagine if Ervin Santana and Joe Saunders can get their act together and provide some much needed consistency to the starting rotation.
The Angels go for the series sweep tomorrow with Minnesota’s Anthony Swarzak opposing Ervin Santana. Santana, might I add, is still searching for his first home win of the year. Yes, his first home win.
Until next time Angel fans.
If Vladimir Guerrero was water, he wouldn’t necessarily be boiling, however bubbles would be pooling at the bottom of the pot, ready to explode to the surface. Not only did the Angels Slugger make his season debut in right field, delighting the halo faithful, he also homered for the second straight game, propelling the Halos to a victory over the team with the worst road record in the league, the Orioles, 9-6 on a beatuful Sunday afternoon at Angel Stadium.
Despite another sub par start by Angels lefty Joe Saunders, who is also yielding a .390 average against opposing righties, the Angels overcame their second consecutive 4-0 deficit. Saunders start fizzled out faster than a North Korean missile – as he surrendered a leadoff home run to Brian Roberts before the seats could even get warm on this 80 degree afternoon, and it was clear that the rest of his miserable 5 1/3 innings were an all out struggle for the normally reliable Saunders. However, the Angels had a rare sighting this game so far this season, scoreless relief from a bullpen that has seen its struggles all year long. Brian Fuentes picked up his major league leading 24th save, and also collected a ticket to the All Star game along with Torii Hunter. It remains to be seen if Chone Figgins will have what it takes to earn the fan’s vote – but at least it’s a shot.
Somewhat of a head-scratcher, is Howie Kendrick being included in the starting lineup again, as he went 1-4, leaving 3 men on base and committing a critical error which led to 3 Oriole runs in the 3rd inning. I would like to propose some sort of a Howie Kendrick grounding of sorts – he is to no longer appear or make any more Howard’s appliance commercials until his average is at least above .280. The Angels went 14-6 in his absence, Maicer Izturis performed quite well, however Kendrick and his .232 average are back in the starting lineup and Izturis’ .309 average sit on the pine. What gives, Mike?
Next up, a showdown of two teams tied for first place begins, as the Texas Rangers come in for the most important series of the year so far, with first place on the line. John Lackey will get to see the Rangers for the first time since having his season debut cut short after only two pitches, and all eyes will be on him especially when Ian Kinsler comes to the dish. Jerrod Weaver will also have his opportunity to take out his frustrations on not making the team despite a solid first half, as he gets a re-do against the Rangers Keving Millwood on Monday night (you see these two went at it last week in Texas, with a not so desirable outing being had by Weaver). My guess, Angels take two of three.
Until next time Angel fans.