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
John Lackey was the man Wednesday afternoon in Anaheim. He did what none of the four previous Angel starting pitchers have been able to do, which was provide excellent starting pitching on a day that the Angels really needed it. Nevermind the fact that he also did it during a day game, where the ball always carries better at the Big A. Lackey held the recently surging Indian offense in check throughout – giving up only 3 hits and 1 run while fanning 8, as the Halos went on to win, 9-3 . This was definitely what the Halos needed as they wrapped up the homestand, finishing 5-2, and taking 2 of 3 from the Indians. Lackey did what is expected out of an ace – taking the ball when the club needed it and giving them exactly what was expected. I’m already starting to wonder how the team will recover without him next year if he isn’t resigned.
Lackey had plenty of help from the offense, especially from one Howie Kendrick. Howie single handedly picked up Lackey all by himself, going 3-4 with 5 RBI, including his 6th home run of the season, a two run shot off Cleveland reliever Tony Sipp. Kendry Morales and Bobby Abreu continued their hot play, each chipping in with 2 hits of their own. For having been sent down to the minors earlier this year due to his poor hitting, it was great to see Howie break out the big guns today and give us all a glimpse of what the young 2nd baseman can do.
Indians starter Aaron Laffey never did recover from giving up 2 runs while throwing 40+ pitches in the first, as he was sent off of the reservation after not being able to record an out in the 4th, ulitmately giving up 7 runs to the Halos.
Perhaps the Indians were a little distracted today, as before the game, last year’s Cy Young winner Cliff Lee, along with Ben Francisco, were shipped to Philadelphia for 4 minor leaguers. I’m glad I’m not an Indian fans, as the Tribe has now traded away Mark DeRosa, Rafeal Betancourt, Ryan Garko, along with the two traded today. Indians fans, if I’m missing someone else please help me out, but you have to wonder how a team so close to the World Series two years ago, has apparently given up and returned back to a rebuilding mode. Keep in mind, last year Casey Blake and C.C. Sabathia were shipped away. You have to feel bad for the stars left on the team, especially Grady Sizemore, who you know they aren’t going to trade. Most importantly though, you have to feel for the poor Cleveland fans, who can’t be none too happy about any of this. You can imagine lots of firewater is going to be drank on the team’s jet and in the city of Cleveland tonight.
Tomorrow, Halo fans, the Angels are off. They then embark on a road trip to Minnesota and Chicago. Hopefully at some point during the trip, they will welcome back Torii Hunter back from the disabled list. The Rangers, who for the moment are 3 games back in the division, wrap up their series with Detroit and face their ace, Justin Verlander. I don’t root for the Tigers often, but I will be doing so tonight. The Rangers then host the Mariners before going on the road to Oakland. The Angels will return home from their road trip to face the Rangers in what you can expect will be hands down, the biggest series of the year. It will be very interesting to see what both the Angels and Rangers do up until the trade deadline. With Boston now reportedly in the sweepstakes for Roy Halladay, the next few days will be interesting. Let it also be noted, that after 100 games of this season, the Angels are 60-40.
Perhaps it’s a little bit of paranoia on my end, but both Mike Napoli and Erick Aybar were both out of today’s lineup. Granted, it could have been a regular rest day for them, but with all the trade winds swirling the Big A lately, I wonder if potentially either of them are on the verge of being traded, as generally on days players are traded, they are not put in the lineup.
Unitl next time Angel fans.
For those baseball purists out there, this matchup between John Lackey and Brett Anderson was nothing short of a classic. Bobby Abreu’s solo home run in the 10th was the lone run in the game, as the Angels defeated Oakland 1-0, and taking three of four in the series. The Halos now find themselves with a much more cushioned 3.5 game lead in the division compared to the 1.5 game lead they arrived in Oakland with.
I have to admit, when looking at the starting lineup for the Angels, who were without Juan Rivera, Kendre Morales, as well as injured starters Torii Hunter and Vladimir Guerrero – I was wondering where the offense would be coming from as I was seeing the names of Reggie Willits, Howie Kendrick, Gary Matthews Jr and Brandon Wood. in their place. Apparently, my worries weren’t just paranoia, as A’s starter Brett Anderson took a perfect game into the 7th, only to have it broken up by a Bobby Abreu single. John Lackey was no slouch either, throwing nine shutout innings, scattering three hits while striking out six A’s of his own, to pick up his fifth victory of the year. Dominating the A’s is no oddity for Lackey, as he has had games similar to this in year’s past. Watching Lackey do what he does best, reminds me how much he means to this team, and how important it will be for them to re-sign the free-agent-to-be at season’s end. Attempts at a contract extension stalled before the season, and you can count that Lackey will attract lots of suitors in the offseason. Arte Moreno and the Angel’s brass needs to step up and do whatever it takes to keep Lackey, one of three remaining Angels from the 2002 World Series team.
Brian Fuentes followed the Abreu home run, and set the A’s down, picking up his major league leading 28th save. The save though, came with Gary Matthews Jr. making the final play of the game, barely catching a sun filled fly ball in center.
The Angels leave town and head up to Kansas City, where they will begin a three game series against the much improved Royals beginning tomorrow, with Sean O’sullivan squaring up against Sir Sidney Ponson. Don’t be surprised Halo fans, if the club returns home for their next homestand with the new second place team being the Seattle Mariners, as the M’s only trail the Rangers by half a game for second place. The next series for each will see Texas hosting the hated Red Sox, while the suddenly hot Mariners will travel to Detroit to face the Tigers. Needless to say, a series sweep would really put some distance between the Angels and the rest of the West.
Until next time Angel fans.