A desire from many players on the Angels and furthermore from around major league baseball players in general, is to play meaningful baseball in September. Well, for the 25 guys who wear the Angels uniform, this road trip is as good as it gets.
The Halos hit the road to take on the other top 3 teams in the AL, for what will be the ultimate test for them. The Angels first head to New York for a make up game before shooting to Boston and Texas for 3 games apiece before finally coming home and getting to face the Yankees for 3 more. I think it’s safe to say, that the next 10 games, with an extra emphasis on these first 7 on the road, will make or break the Angels season.
Having a 6 game lead on the division is definitely nice, especially at a time like this. The first game pits the Angels best starting pitcher so far this year, Jered Weaver, against the much over rated Joba Chamberlain. Weaver will be looking for his 16th win and, to put his name in discussions for a possible Cy Young award.
The Angels last homestand concluded yesterday with a 3-2 win over the visiting White Sox. The Angels went 5-1 on the homestand, which also saw them sweep 3 from the Mariners. The Halos once white hot offense has cooled of late, but excellent starting pitching and continued solid bullpen work has translated into wins for the club. I think not only for the playoffs, but even this time of the year, the club would rather see it’s starting pitcher where it’s at, compared to how it had been for the majority of the year. The addition of Scott Kazmir, along with a healthy Joe Saunders and Ervin Santana have made all the difference. Kevin Jepsen, who many would say should get team MVP honors, has been amazing in filling in for the injured Scot Shields.
The Angels offense, on the otherhand, could really use a wake up call. Ever since Vladimir Guerrero came off of the DL and occupied the clean up spot in the lineup, the offense hasn’t been the same. At it’s most lethal, the lineup was patient and didn’t swing at bad pitches. That’s exactly the opposite of Guerrero, who just can’t get away with being that type of player anymore. The bad balls he used to hit for doubles and home runs, are now lazy pop ups and fly balls. Mike Scioscia should really consider relegating him to part time duty, and bumping up Kendre Morales to the 4th spot, and getting Mike Napoli more consistent playing time.
Fasten your seatbelts Angels fans, the next 10 games should all be great. I see the Angels jumping all over Joba tonight.
Until next time Angel fans.
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.
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