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.
The Angels, like Stella, finally got their groove back. For the Angels though, it didn’t require them to take a vacation to Jamaica., It did though, come at the hands of White Sox starter John Danks who served as the Angel punching bag, allowing 3 home runs, and finished the day lasting 6 innings, giving up 7 runs as the Halos took the finale of the three game series and avoided the sweep, beating Chicago 9-5. The Angels flexed a little muscle in the form of home runs by Jeff Mathis, Vladimir Guerrero (welcome back Vladdy!), Bobby Abreu (the 250th of his career) and Erick Aybar. For a team than managed a combined 11 hits in the first two games of this series, the Halos managed 11 hits alone in their victorious effort Thursday afternoon. Along with his home run, Aybar had another 2 hits, finishing the game going 3-4 scoring twice and driving in 2. The Halos were also busy on the basepaths, swiping 4 bags, including 2 by Chone Figgins. The Angels were also caught stealing 3 times, which goes to show that Angels skipper Mike Scioscia wanted to let his team make their own breaks today, and it paid off.
Ervin Santana got the victory, improving his record to 4-6. The righty threw 6 quality innings that looked better on the field than in the box score. The big blow was a 3 run home run by Jayson Nix in the 2nd, and other than that, was in complete control throughout. Jason Bulger folllowed with 2 innings of perfect relief, and Kevin Jepsen wrapped things up in the 9th despite a solo home run by Dewayne Wise.
The Angels wrapped up their road trip with an impressive 4-2 mark, however the impressiveness was nearly all in Minnesota, as the team struggled mightily in the windy city. With the 2nd place Texas Rangers coming into town for the biggest series of the year, the Halos hope to leave their struggles behind in Chicago.
Game 1 will see Angels lefty Joe Saunders take on Scott Feldman. Saunders, who has had his fair share of struggles all year long, knows that this is going to be his biggest start of the year, as the Rangers, needless to say, have had the Angles number all year long. A sweep by the Angels could nearly drive the final nail in the Rangers coffin. The Rangers won today, keeping pace with the Angels as their lead sits at 4.5 games. Angel fans, hope your seat belts are ready, as this weekend is going to be good.
Until next time Angel fans.
Ahh, Angel fans, there is nothing like losing to an inferior team for the second time in as many days. The Angels again struggled offensively and fell to the White Sox 6-2 on Wednesday night. Gavin Floyd silenced Angel bats, going 8 solid innings, while giving up 2 runs on 6 hits. Floyd had the Angels number all night, never finding himself in any major trouble. The Angels, as previously stated, only managed 6 hits, which was 1 more than they mustered last night. An offense that was hotter than Megan Fox on a Saturday night, again re-visited ghosts of playoff nightmares past, in losing their 2nd game in a row to Chicago.
Angels starter Sean O’sullivan definitely deserved better. Entering the 5th inning, he had been, for the most part, effective. He had only allowed 2 runs up until that point, and was already out of the game as Jim Thome hit his 2nd home run of the game, this one, a 3 run shot off of reliever Darren Oliver to blow the game wide open, giving the Sox a 5-1 lead. Paul Konerko added a solo shot off of Brian Fuentes in the 8th to put the cherry on top for Chicago.
Also, for the 2nd game in a row, Vladimir Guerrero occupied the DH role and clean up spot, and for the 2nd game in a row, the Halos were flat on offense. It was obvious that the team wouldn’t be able to keep up with their torrid hitting of late, but nobody expected the team to go from boiling hot to freezing cold. Is this a coincidence, with Vlad now in the lineup? Would it hurt to take Vlad out for a few games and see what happens? While it is understandable that Mike Scioscia wants to get Vlad back in the lineup, at what point does he realize that in the end, Vlad may be doing more bad than good?
At least Angel fans, the Rangers lost, keeping the team’s lead at 4.5 games in the division. The White Sox go for the series sweep tomorrow as they march John Danks out to the hill to oppose Ervin Santana. After such a great series in Minnesota, it’s hard to believe that the club could return from the road trip at 3-3. On a personal side note, not sure if anyone noticed that Sean O’sullivan threw a high hard one right near the bleach blond head of A.J. Pierzynksi, and while the pitch didn’t connect, it did provide me much enjoyment seeing that weisel squirm.
Until next time Angel fans.
I believe the best course of action for the entire Minnesota Twins ballclub, is to go to the nearest hospital immeditately. Surely, after the three game series that they just went through, in which they were absolutely owned and demolished by the Halos, it is almost a guarantee that the Twins suffered some sort of lasting effect from the Angels whips and brooms. The Angels, scoring in double digits for the third game in a row, completed the sweep, winning 13-4 and with that, put on an offensive display that has definitely gotten some attention across not only the America League, but across Major League Baseball. The Angles will dearly miss Minnesota, as they scored a combined 35 runs while sweeping the Twins. Jered Weaver was the benefactor today, as he took the hill for the Halos. Weaver powered his way through a potent Twins lineup, setting a personal best by fanning 11 Twins while going 6 1/3 innings to pick up his 11th win of the year. Justin Speier and Shane Loux again, provided shutout relief in support of Weaver.
Offensively, the club was led by the list of usual suspects. Kendry Morales, who is giving Angel fans a reason to say “Mark who?” blasted a pair of three run shots, giving him a team leading in both home runs (23) and RBI (69). When the season started, Kendry was for the most part a question mark, as he never had consistent enough playing time to give the Halos an idea of what exactly they could expect. His play so far this year has been nothing short of spectacular, and a huge reason why the club is where it is right now. Despite all the injuries and uncertainty which has plagued the club all year long, Kendry has been one of the few constants, along with Chone Figgins and Bobby Abreu for the Angels offense. Gary Matthews Jr, Bobby Abreu, Howie Kendrick and Jeff Mathis each had two hits in the victory as well. Sean Rodriguez, is making the most of his starts in left field, blasting a 3 run home run, his 2nd of the year, off of Twins starter Glen Perkins, who was just flat out rocked in his four innings, giving up 12 hits while allowing 9 runs.
There are two things on my mind right now when it comes to the team, and how their playoff chances will fare, trusting they make the playoffs of course. The first and most glaring of these two is wondering if this offense will show up during the postseason? They can be guaranteed of at least facing 2 of the elite starting pitchers in baseball no matter what team they play. The Yankees have Sabathia and Burnett, the Red Sox have Beckett and Lester, Tigers have Verlander and Jackson, etc. It’s always been a given that good pitching beats good hitting, I wonder if that will truly be the case as only time will tell. The second thing on my mind, is if they are peaking too early. Can they realistically be expected to keep scoring in double digits or close to it every night? As much as I want to say yes, it doesn’t appear that way. However, the one thing I’ve learned this year, from this team, is to never say never. They have gone through far too much adversity and come out of it far better than they entered it, which speaks volumes on the character and toughness this team has. In short, these Halos are completely unique – you can’t label them, and just when you think you have them all figured out, they surprise you further. And, might I add, have been such a blast to watch so far this year..
The Rangers beat the Mariners today to keep pace with the Halos, keeping the Angels lead at 4 games. Tomorrow Angel fans, the Halos are off as they travel to Chicago to begin a 3 game series against the White Sox. The White Sox, who currently sit 1.5 games out of first, know they will have their hands full with the Angels, but also desperately need these games to stay in the race in the AL Central. We all know they’ve seen the carnage that was the Angels last series, and seeing how the Twins lost 3 games in the standings in just 3 days. John Lackey will oppose Jose Contreras in the opener.
Until next time Angel fans.