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.
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.