The Angels completed the first step in hopes of winning the World Series this year on Monday night in Anaheim, shutting out the Texas Rangers 11-0 to take the AL West and secure a first round matchup against the hated Red Sox of Boston. While I would have expected more from the Rangers, especially considering the problems they have put us through this year, it was nice to see an offensive explosion and a masterful pitching performance from Ervin Santana. I had great seats myself right next to the right field foul pole, and after the game was put away by the 3rd inning with the Angels leading 7-0, even Bobby Abreu was having fun with the fans. I stopped counting after Bobby waved and acknowledged more than 20 different fans offering praise and congratulations to the team. Even one fan went as far as promising to buy Bobby a shot of Petron after the game, to which Abreu reacted by jumping up and down and running in place as fast as he could. It was a great night.
Vlad Guerrero and Kendry Morales got the Angels out to the right kind of start; Guerrero doubling home a run in the first folllowed by a 2 run shot by Morales to dead center field to stake the Halos to an early 3-0 lead. Abreu himself came within a home run of hitting for the cycle.
Santana pitched masterfully throughout, getting out of a few jams with slick double plays turned by Morales at first, and ended up giving up only 7 hits and striking out 2 to get the shutout. But the story wasn’t Santana tonight folks, as the win finally let the Angels take a breath and celebrate the division title despite the adversity faced this season. It was especially nice to see the club come back on the field about 10 minutes after disappearing into the clubhouse for a champagne celebration, as the club came back out and jogged to Nick Adenhart’s jersey on the right center field wall and paid their respects. For those of you who don’t have a team to root for this October, the Angels deserve your support.
The club now has the remainder of the season to rest up and get their rotation in order for the first round, which begins in a little over a week. Be sure to check out my breakdown of the first round series against Boston and what I feel the Halos need to do to finally get past these Sox.
Until next time Angel fans.
On Friday night in Anaheim, the Angels were owned by the Athletics. Three different pitchers led by Gio Gonzalez combined to fan the Angels 13 separate times. The amount of wind produced by the Angels bats coming up empty swing after swing did in fact cool down much of Orange County after seeing another day of 100 degree heat. On this night, it was the A’s who looked to be the team zoning in on their 3rd consecutive AL West division title, rather than the Halos who were just plain flat all night long. The only Angel starter not to strike out was Torii Hunter, who went 0-4 and appeared to possibly re-aggravate an abdomonial injury that shelved him for a month earlier this year.
The Rangers beat the Rays to close within 6 games of the Halos. While I am still not worried about this, the Rangers are coming in for a 4 game series and finally have Josh Hamilton back in the lineup who always feasts on Angels pitching. The magic number for the Angels to clinch the division is still at 4 as the club will look tomorrow to improve on that. John Lackey will oppose Dana Eveland the middle game of the 3 game series.
On a separate note, Red Sox starter and Angel nemesis John Lester was drilled by a line drive in the 3rd inning of his terrible start tonight in New York, and had to leave the game. X-rays were negative, but it would just be terrible if for some reason this injury keeps him from being on top of his game come the playoffs, where, unless a miracle for the Rangers does happen, it will be another version of Angels/Red Sox. Hey, one can only hope.
Until next time Angel fans.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Tonight’s game was a complete opposite of last night’s offensive extravaganza that saw the Angels win 8-7. Ervin Santana completely manhandled and shut down a powerful Rays lineup, going the distance while allowing only 3 hits to get the complete game shutout. This also happened to be his first home win of the year, and it couldn’t have come at a better time for the Halos. Santana, to be blunt, has been wildly inconsistent all year long, and in a week that saw the Halos put lefty starter Joe Saunders on the DL, this is something that the club really needed. It remains to be seen though, if Santana can build off of this start and provide some much needed consistency for the club and the starting staff in particular.
Rays starter David Price performed much better than his line shows. The lengthly lefthander carried a no hitter into the fifth inning, an inning in which, the wheels started falling off. Reggie Willits helped lead to the demise of Price after a clutch 2 RBI single with two outs in the fifth and was driven in by the next batter, Chone Figgins, who singled to put the Halos up 3-0. Jeff Mathis put the icing on the cake with a bases loaded double off the left field fence, driving in 3 and putting the Angels up to stay, 6-0, and sending Price off to an early, lonesome shower.
The Rangers were shutout by the Indians today, so now the Halos lead the division by 5 games. In the series finale tommorow, Trevor Bell of the Angels will make his major league debut, and will be opposed by the Rays Jeff Niemann. It will be an early start for the game, at 12:35. The club is also expecting to see the return of centerfielder Torii Hunter, which will be a much welcomed sight for the club. Justin Speier, who had been very inconsistent in the pen all year long, was released today as the club made room on the roster for Bell.
On a separate note, it was great to see the Tigers Rick Porcello throw the charging Kevin Youkillis to the ground during the benches clearing brawl. I hope he gets a nice fat suspension for his actions.
Until next time Angel fans.