It wasn’t exactly pretty, but at this time of the season, especially against the closest team to them in the standings, the Angels will take it. Scott Kazmir was a bulldog on Friday night, going 6 shutout innings, and picked up his first win with the team since coming over from Tampa Bay. Despite this only being Kazmir’s first victory, he has been a man of quality each time he has taken the hill thus far.
Granted, the Angels are taking on a Ranger team who hasn’t scored since the Eisenhower administration it seems like. They (the Rangers) had their chances, but Kazmir, followed with excellent relief from Jason Bulger, Mr. Consistency Kevin Jepsen in particular and Brian Fuentes kept the Rangers off of the scoreboard. If this note my statistician handed me is correct, the Rangers have been shut out 4 times now in their past 5 games – which is quite possibly the biggest slump in the history of these normally offensively sound Texas Rangers. To be blunt, my 96 year old grandfather is scoring more than the Rangers these days.. Who would have thought the Rangers problem at this point in the season would have been hitting rather than pitching? The pitching, to the Rangers credit, is as good as I’ve seen in many, many years. It remains to be seen, in the offseason, if the Rangers have the testicular fortitude in the form of money to go out and get the missing pieces needed to overtake the Halos next year, as this year, as the beloved Chick Hearn would say, is over. The jello is certainly jiggling.
The Angels now have a comfortable 7 1/2 game lead in the division. The next series, when the club returns home, will be against the Yankees and will go a long way to see who will have home field advantage throughout the playoffs. Should be interesting.
Let’s see if the Angels can add to the Rangers woes with another shutout today as Jered Weaver takes the hill. Boy, it sure is nice when you have 5 better than average starters to rely on each and every day.
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.
It’s safe to say that more often than not, most anticipated pitcher’s duels end up being anything but. However, on Saturday night in Kansas City, John Lackey and Zack Greinke rolled up their sleeves and squared off in front of a packed house. And, they didn’t disappoint, not even in the slightest.
Greinke went 8 masterful innings, striking out 8, keeping the Angels tied in knots all night long. Greinke left the game after having tossed 125 pitches. Lackey though, was better, going 9 even more impressive innings, and throwing 106 pitches of his own. Yes, Lackey only struck out 4, but those extra pitches he didn’t throw let him go that extra inning that Greinke didn’t. This was the John Lackey that we all know and love, the staff ace that goes out and gets the job done no matter what. The Halos managed to tie the game at 1 when Torii Hunter lashed a two out, two strike single off of Greinke in the 8th. Big John also managed to do this in front of a crowd that would give Greinke a standing ovation on nearly every strike he threw. I mean, the guy would spit a solid loogie and you would hear the applause from various parts of the ballpark.
Lackey did everything possible to keep the team in the game. Combined with the Angels ineffective offense of late (granted they’ve been facing some pretty solid pitching) only magnifies the brilliance of Lackey’s start. The Halos took the field in this game already knowing that the Rangers had lost, briefly pushing the club’s lead in the division to 4 games. With 7 games left against the Rangers, especially considering how much the Angels struggle against the Rangers, at this point of the season, they need to get every game in the standings that they can.
Lackey also continued the Angels awesome starting pitching of late. With the addition of Scott Kazmir, who was more than solid in his club debut in Seattle despite losing along with solid Jered Weaver, Joe Saunders, and Ervin Santana, the rotation as a whole finally appears to be in line. Trusting that the club can hold on and make the playoffs, this rotation, combined with a strong bullpen and torrid offense, this team really does have a chance at making it deep.
As I write this, the game just turned to the bottom of the 10th, still tied at 1. Hopefully Lackey’s efforts weren’t made in vain tonight.
Until next time Angel fans.
The Angels just completed one of their most disappointing homestands of the year, but despite the poor showing, we learned a little bit more about the team. The halos finished the homestand 3-4, and, only managed to split a 4 game series against last place Oakland. The series against Oakland again highlighted the fact that the Angels have been flat out horrible against the AL West this year. However, not is all lost Angel fans. A lot happened during the past week. Most importantly, the club managed to snag Rays lefty starting pitcher Scott Kazmir, who the club had been keeping their eyes on for a couple years now. The move, coming at only the expense of 2 minor leaguers and a player to be named, allows the club to keep the nucleus of big leaguers on the roster, and adding that much needed starting pitcher the club had been looking for. Now, a rotation of Lackey, Weaver, Santana, Saunders and Kazmir, looks mightily impressive. However, it remains to be seen if this will translate into success on the field, as the Angels starting pitching has been the weak link of the team this year. Kazmir has battled injury this year, but appears healthy and has been throwing well of late. Also, Kazmir is under contract for the next 2 years, and if the team can manage to resign John Lackey in the offseason, they would have one of the best rotations in baseball. Speaking of Lackey, on Sunday he picked up his 100th career victory as an Angel. Also on the homestand, Kendry Morales hit his club leading 30th home run of the season, and also set the club record for home runs by a switch hitter. Morales, or K-Mo as he is now being referred to, is starting to show he may deserve more at bats in the 4th spot of the order, rather than 6th where he has been doing his damage all year.
So, the club will head out on the road beginning in Seattle, with a 5 game lead in the division. Despite the club’s poor play of late, they have managed to keep the lead at or near that mark for some time now.
Kazmir will make his debut either Tuesday or Wednesday against the Mariners, which should be interesting.
Until next time Angel fans.