Tagged: Mike Napoli

Too Little Too Late For Halos

This wasn’t at all what Sean O’Sullivan had planned as he prepared to take the mound against the Blue Jays in game one of this three game series.  The rookie right hander didn’t record an out in the 2nd inning, and left having yielded 4 runs to the Blue Jays as the Jays went on to win, 5-4.  The outing was yet another in a newly formed trend of poor starts from Angels rookie starting pitchers lately.  Granted Trevor Bell did pick up his first major league win his last turn around in Cleveland, but it was far from pretty.  The bullpen did the best they could with solid relief coming in the form of Matt Palmer (who may see himself getting O’Sullivan’s turn in the rotation next time) and Jose Arredondo, who limited the Jays to only 1 run for the rest of the game.  The Angels offense wasn’t much better, at least through the first 8 innings. The bats appeared to have taken the night off for the second night in a row, only managing one run, but Mike Napoli provided an ulcer building moment for Jays manager Cito Gaston, hitting a 3 run home run in the Angels half of the ninth to bring the Halos within a run.  Casey Janssen would induce a game ending groundout by pinch hitter Bobby Abreu to notch the save and the victory for Toronto with Howie Kendrick on 2nd base. 

Yorba Linda native Marc Rzepczynski (last time I will type that name – haha) silenced the Angels bats for 6 1/3 innings, only allowing 3 hits and 1 run to pick up the victory. After somewhat of a shaky first inning, he found his form – and his slider and pitched well.  Adam Lind hit his 29th home run off of O’Sullivan in the first to help start the Jays attack.

Tomorrow, Ervin Santana will get the start in an afternoon game, and look to get the Angels off of this 2 game skid.  He will be opposed by Scott Richmond, as both pitchers will look to pick up their 7th win of the season. 

The Rangers lost in Tampa Bay, so the Angels lead still sits at 5.5 games.  Elsewhere around the league, the Yankees continue beating anyone and everyone, outscoring the hated Red Sox in a run scoring extravaganza, 20-11.  The Red Sox appear to be getting some bullpen relief in the form of Mets lefty Billy Wagner, who is just now getting back from a left elbow injury suffered nearly 12 months ago.  The Red Sox hold a slim 1 game lead in the Wild Card over the Rangers.  Let’s see if Ervin can build off of his recent success and provide the club with a much needed quality start.

Until next time Angel fans.  

Angels Sweep Rays Out Of Town

The Angels rolled out the red carpet for this series, as they wanted to welcome back former bench coach Joe Maddon in typical Angel fashion.  And they did just that, completing a three game sweep of the Rays.  The day was highlighted by the major league debut of Trevor Bell.  Bell, who wasn’t particularly great nor particularly bad, gave what was expected of him and of someone making their big league debut.  The righty went 5 1/3 allowing 4 runs on 9 hits.  Carlos Pena proved to be the biggest thorn in Bell’s side, hitting 2 home runs off of him. 

Offensively, the Angels again, just kept throwing runs on the board.  Gary Matthews Jr hit a three run home run in the 6th and Howie Kendrick added a three run blast of his own an inning later.  Chone Figgins led the attack with 3 hits, and was followed by Erick Aybar, Kendry Morales, Mike Napoli and Howie Kendrick who all had two hits apiece. 

The Angels wrapped up the homestand going 4-2, and have now won 3 games in a row.  Hopefully come this weekend, Torii Hunter will rejoin the team.  

The Angels are off tomorrow, as they travel to Baltimore to being a crucial 10 game road trip against the Orioles, Indians and Blue Jays.

Over the next week I will be doing a little road tripping with the family, I will do my best to throw a couple of blogs out there but should be back to normal in a week. 

Until next time Angel fans 

Sox Edge Angels 5-4

This game just didn’t feel right from the beginning.  The White Sox thwarted the Angels attempt to win their 6th in a row, taking the first game of this series 5-4.  In a game in which the Angels best starter and best chance for a win in this series was throwing, the Angels couldn’t get the victory.  Scott Podsednik was the hero tonight for the Sox, providing the walk off magic by singling in Jayson Nix to give the White Sox the victory on Tuesday night.

This game, although unlikely at first, turned into a pitchers duel. Angel starter John Lackey, went 8 solid innings, giving up only 4 runs on 5 hits, while striking out 8.  However, Big John was in a bit of a giving mood early on, giving up solo home runs in each of the first two innings; to rookie Gordon Beckham in the 1st and Carlos Quentin in the 2nd.  White Sox starter Jose Contreras only gave up one hit of his own, however he ended up walking  five and uncorked three wild pitches, only lasting 2 2/3 innings before Sox manager Ozzie Guillen sent him to an early shower.  Due to Contreras’ wildness, a warning was issued to both sides by home plate umpire Joe West after Contreras nearly beaned Vladimir Guerrero in the 3rd.  This was a great disappointment to me, which meant my chances of watching John Lackey drill A.J. Pierzynkski in the back with a heater were next to none.  Sorry A.J., some people just never forget….

Oh, and another classy move from AJ was when he tried in vein to get the team to appeal Chone Figgins tagging up to score on a sac fly in the 5th.  Replays showed he clearly left on time, and showed again, how much of a horses *** Pierzynski can be. The game itself had a bit of an odd feeling to it, as Vladimir Guerrero made his long awaited return from the disabled list, and to be honest, I wasn’t really even excited when I saw his name in the lineup.  The reason being, is because his presence in the lineup put an end to the great chemistry and streaky hitting that we had been seeing since the All Star Break. A lineup full of patient yet potent hitters now had a hitter smack in the middle of the lineup who has no patience.  Vlad swings at everything.  He’s even been known to swing at bags of peanuts as they’re tossed from the peanut guy to an expecting fan.  With Vlad occupying the DH role, Mike Napoli was given the night off, which meant the club would be without one of their most reliable hitters of late.  Also, in addition to the oddity of this game, it appears that the White Sox dedicated this entire series to Mark Buehrle in commemoration of the perfect game that was thrown weeks ago.  No, Angel fans, the Soap Channel didn’t gain control of Major League Baseball today, sorry.  Maybe I’m alone in how lame I find this to be, if you’re going to dedicate a series to anyone, how about dedicating it to one of the thousands of troops we have overseas? 

Getting back to the game, the White Sox bullpen was the real reason they won.  D.J. Carrasco came in to relieve Jose Contrereas, and threw 4 innings of 2 hit ball, only allowing 1 run.  Matt Thornton pitched a scoreless 9th and picked up his 6th win of the season. 

As for the Halos, Mr. Patient, Bobby Abreu had a single and drove in 3.  Other than him though, the Angels as a team only managed 5 lousy hits.  Perhaps someone should check, just to be safe, that the bats used tonight were in fact the same ones used in Minnesota. 

Game 2 of the series, tomorrow night will see Sean O’sullivan, fresh off of his no hitter in Triple A, take on Gavin Floyd.  Last time I looked in the mirror I wasn’t Mike Scioscia, but if I were Mike, I would march out the same lineup that has been beating up on opponents on a regular basis, and that means sitting Vladdy.  Torii Hunter should be headed to Arkansas for a rehab assignment on Thursday, and should be back by Sunday or Monday.  Although Matthews has filled in admirably for Hunter, it will be such a lift to get him back. 

Until next time Angel fans.  

Angels Trounce Twins 11-6

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  

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     

 

Angels Hold on For Dear Life, Defeat Indians 7-6.

Jered Weaver, so far this year, has been the ace of the Angels staff.  Tonight though, wasn’t very ace-like.  Weaver became the fourth Angel starter in a row to have a sub par outing, going 5 innings, giving up 8 hits and 4 runs on Tuesday night in Anaheim.  Matt Palmer, who is much better as a reliever, demonstrated this by tossing 3 innings of one hit relief, quieting an Indians lineup that had their sights set on lighting up Halo pitching for the second consecutive night.  Weaver allowed single runs in every inning he pitched except for the 3rd, and gave up solo home runs to Ben Francisco and Jhonny Peralta. 

Indians starter David Huff did a fine job in his first 7 innings. But things changed quickly for the lefty as he headed to the mound to start the 7th, up 4-3.  He allowed the first two batters to reach base; Erick Aybar on an infield single, and walking Mr. Patience, Bobby Abreu.  Huff was then taken out, and reliever Joe Smith allowed an RBI single to Juan Rivera, tying things up, (allowing Jered Weaver to spit the hook of a loss out of his mouth) before getting Mike Napoli to ground into a double play.  Smith was then replaced by Tony Sipp.  Sipp then walked pinch hitter Maicer Izturis and Kendry Morales. You could almost see more hairs turn grey on the head of the Tribe’s skipper, Eric Wedge as up came Gary Matthews Jr, who was hitting a lofty .140 from the right side of the plate on the year.  Gary proceeded to slam a double to the left center field gap, scoring all 3 Angels, and giving the club a 7-4 lead.  This was clearly the biggest hit of the season for Matthews Jr.  I’ve been pretty rough on Gary all year long, and let me take this opportunity to give him some kudos for getting that hit.  It was Matthew’s 2nd double of the game,  both coming from the right side.  You see, sometimes in baseball, stats are overrated.  I’m not sure about the rest of you out there, but I was honestly wondering how Cleveland’s record and place in the divison was so bad, but their bullpen work in the 8th alone, helped explain a lot.

Brian Fuentes, who got roughed up the night before, blowing the save, took the mound to start the ninth, looking for redemption.  The Tribe had other ideas, as Andy Marte led off with a walk, followed by Asdrubal Cabrera, who rung a double off the right field wall.  Pinch hitter Jamey Carroll singled in a run, and Fuentes then walked Shin-Soo Choo to load the bases with nobody out, and the Tribe down 7-5.  Fuentes was then taken out, with no redemption having been found, and replaced by Jason Bulger.  Bulger then induced a double play ground ball from Victor Marinez, as the Indians pulled within a run, 7-6.  Bulger then got Jhonny Peralta to ground out to short, ending the game, to the absolute delight of the Halo faithful.  This was Bulger’s first career save, definitely one that he will remember.  Matt Palmer picked up the victory, his 9th of the year, and in this game, he definitely earned it.  

Brian Fuentes hasn’t recorded an out in his last two outings, which were both atrocious.  Let’s hope he can pull out of whatever funk he is in, and right the ship.  His last two outings gave us glimpses back to how he was at the beginning of the year and on a night when the 1980’s were celebrated at the Big A, nobody wants to revisit Fuentes’ early season struggles.  

Also, in case you were wondering, the Rangers won again.  The Halos slim lead still sits at 2.5 games in the AL West.  Tonight also saw some dramatics come from their AAA team, as pitcher Sean O’Sullivan (who has started witht he big club this year) threw a no-hitter, just missing a perfect game.  Congratulations Sean.  

Tomorrow afternoon, John Lackey takes the mound in the series finale, taking on Indians lefty Aaron Laffey.  The Angels need Big John to take the ball and have a strong outing, as the bullpen has been taxed over the past four games pretty heavily.  The Halos will enjoy an off day on Thursday, before heading out of town on a road trip to Minnesota and Chicago.

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.