Monthly Archives: April 2009

4/29-Hunter and Morales’ Homers Give Angels 2-Game Sweep of O’s

morales hunterThe Angels kicked off an 8-game road trip on the right foot after completing a 2-game sweep of the Baltimore Orioles, with a 3-2 win today.

Shane Loux (1-2) would get his first major league win since the 2003 season after giving up 1 run on 5 hits in 6 innings pitched, striking out 3.

The bullpen would give up only 1 run in 3 innings of work today, with Brian Fuentes notching his 5th save in 6 opportunities.

For the Orioles, Koji Uehara (2-2) would receive the loss after going 6 1/3 innings, giving up 3 runs on 7 hits and striking out 5 Halo batters.

Torii Hunter and Kendry Morales would hit back-to-back taters in the 7th inning, with the 2nd blast giving the Halos a 3-1 lead, and that 3rd run would be all the run support needed for the win.

The Halos are now on a 3-game winning streak, pushing their record to 9-11 and the Orioles drop to 9-13 after starting the season at 6-3.

Game Notes

Shane Loux gave the Angels his strongest start of the season after throwing 6 innings of 1-run ball. Loux only went 4 innings in his last outing against the Mariners after giving up 7 runs on 11 hits but really settled down and gave the Angels a great effort today to complete a 2-game road sweep of the O’s.

The hot hitting continues, notching another game of 10 or more hits today (10 on the game). Torii Hunter, Kendry Morales and Jeff Mathis would each have 2 hits on the game.

Torii Hunter and Kendry Morales would hit crucial back-to-back solo home runs in the 7th inning to have the Angels go from tied at 1 apiece to ahead by a score of 3-1. Hunter hit his team-leading 8th home run of the season today (April 29th), when he didn’t hit his 8th home run last season until June 9th, and Morales’ jack was his 3rd round-tripper on the season. KMo went 4-for-8 with 2 doubles, 1 triple and 1 home run in the 2-game series, posting 4 RBI and upping his season average to .288.

The bullpen would nail it down, but it wouldn’t come without a shaky start to the 8th inning with Jose Arredondo. Justin Speier struck out 2 Orioles in a 1-2-3 7th inning, but Arredondo led off the 8th by giving up an infield single to Adam Jones, and then allowed him to take 2nd base on a wild pitch. Nick Markakis would knock in the speedy Jones on a single to right, cutting the Halo lead to 3-2. Arredondo would then gather himself, strike out Aubrey Huff to make it one out, Jeff Mathis would throw out Nick Markakis trying to steal 2nd base for the 2nd out, and then Luke Scott would strike out looking to end the inning.

Brian Fuentes would come in for a save opportunity in the 9th, and would retire all 3 Oriole batters to give the Angels a 3-2 win.

An Oriole note, Nick Markakis pushed his hitting streak to 16 games today, the longest currently in the MLB.

Halo of the Game Review and Pick

4/29 Halo of the Game Pick: Kendry Morales

Stat Line: 2-4, 2 RBI, 1 R, 1 3B, 1 HR, 1 K, 0 BB, 0 LOB

Morales had an RBI triple to deep center in the 4th inning to tie up the game at 1-1, but his solo homer to straightaway center field would give the Angels a much needed 3rd run as insurance. Morales has been on fire in the past week, with 2 home runs, 9 RBI, and a .321 average in that span. He’s been seeing the ball better and really putting good wood on it just like he did all throughout Spring Training.

Current Halo of the Game Hit Streak: 6 (season-long: 8 games)

Halo of the Game Season Hitting Statistics:

17 G-.365 avg. (23-63), 3 HR, 11 RBI, 13 R, 5 2B, 1 3B, 10 K, 10 BB, 5 SB

Tomorrow’s Halo of the Game Pick: Torii Hunter

The Angels now head to New York for a 4-game set with the Yankees.

Tomorrow’s game at New York against the Yankees is scheduled for 4:05 Pacific Time (7:05 Eastern).

Anthony Ortega or Matt Palmer will be the starter for the Halos, as Palmer was initially scheduled to be the starter today in Baltimore, and AJ Burnett will take the hill for the Bronx Bombers.

Go Halos!

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4/28-Angels Hold Off Orioles 7-5 in 1st of 2-Game Set

fuentes hunterJoe Saunders, a native of nearby Virginia, had around 20 family members in attendance at Camden Yards Tuesday to root him on, and he his squad was not about to disappoint the Saunders faithful.

Saunders came in to Tuesday’s game at a perfect 4-0 lifetime against the Baltimore Orioles, and remained perfect with today’s outcome. Saunders wouldn’t have his most brilliant outing of the year, going 6 innings, while allowing 4 runs (only 2 of them earned) on 10 hits, while punching out only 1 Oriole batter.

As I had mentioned in my article earlier today, the Angels needed to get good efforts from guys like Howie Kendrick, Kendry Morales, Chone Figgins and Mike Napoli to name a few, in order to be successful.

KMo, Figgy and Nap would each have two hits on the game, and Kendrick would have a 2-run jack for the Halos en route to a 7-5 victory.

More importantly, the bullpen did a great job of closing the door on the O’s on their 1st game of an 8-game road trip.

Joe Saunders (3-1) would be the winning pitcher in Tuesday’s contest, while Adam Eaton (1-3) would be on the losing end after giving up 5 runs in 6 innings of work.

Brian Fuentes would notch his 4th save of the year in 5 opportunities after starting the inning with a leadoff home run to Adam Jones, his 4th of the year.

The Halos move to 8-11 on the year, and Baltimore drops to 9-12, losing 10 of their last 13 games.

Game Notes

The Angels became the last team in Major League Baseball to win back-to-back games. The Angels couldn’t quite seem to ring up consecutive wins until the 18th and 19th games of the season, but for the first time this year, the Angels have a quote-unquote “winning streak” going.

The Angels would knock 7 extra-base hits in this game (6 doubles, 1 home run), with 11 hits altogether. This marks the 6th time in the last 7 games that the Angels have collectively had 10 or more hits in a single contest.

Howie Kendrick had a big 2-run homer in the 4th inning off of Eaton to tie up the game at 4-4. Kendrick would only go 1-for-4 on the night, but his tater makes it back-to-back games with a home run. 8 of HK’s 16 RBI on the season have come in the past 3 games. He’s now the club’s RBI leader with his total of 16.

Kendry Morales would go 2-for-4 with 2 doubles, 2 RBI and 1 run scored. KMo hit a crucial 2-run double in the 7th inning to push the Angels’ lead to 7-4. Morales now has 8 RBI in his last 5 games, and pushed his average up to .275 for the year.

Lots of Angels with a multi-hit game today, 4 to be exact.

Chone Figgins went 2-for-3 with 2 walks, 2 runs scored and 2 stolen bags. Mighty Maicer would go 2-for-5, with 2 runs scored and 1 RBI. The aforementioned Kendry Morales would go 2-for-4 with 2 RBI and a run scored. And lastly, Mike Napoli would go 2-for-4 as well.

The bullpen would finally look 90% competent. Not all the way, but I’d say about 90%.

Jose Arredondo would pitch a scoreless 7th inning, surrendering only 1 hit and striking out 2 Oriole hitters.

Scot Shields (…gulp) oddly enough wouldn’t even give up a hit in the 8th, but would end up walking 1 batter. More importantly, Shieldsy didn’t give up a run… and that now pushes his ERA below 10.00! Yay! Now that’s some progress/change that he can believe in.

Brian Fuentes would allow a leadoff home run in the 9th inning to an emerging player in 23-year-old Adam Jones. Jones has been off to a scorching start this year, and I’m really thinking that this kid is going to have a special career. But on to the rest of the 9th inning, Fuentes would retire the 3-4-5 hitters in Nick Markakis, Aubrey Huff and Melvin Mora, to end the game and give the Angels the 7-5 W.

The overall plate discipline from the leadoff spot to the 9-hole hitter is improving. The Angels drew 6 walks today, an overwhelming amount by Angels standards. This is a team that has had the free-swinging mentality ever since Mike Scioscia became the Halos’ skipper back in 2000. Bobby Abreu has been known throughout his career as being a guy who sees more pitches per at-bat on average than any other hitter in the league, and his eye at the plate is beginning to rub off on other guys. Chone Figgins drew only 62 walks as the leadoff hitter in 116 games last year, but this year he’s drawn 14 walks in a mere 18 contests, allowing Scioscia to let Figgy run free on the basepaths much more often.

Halo of the Game Review and Pick

4/28 Halo of the Game Pick: Chone Figgins

Stat Line: 2-3, 0 RBI, 2 R, 1 2B, 2 BB, 0 K, 0 LOB, 2 SB

Figgy got on base in 4 of his 5 plate appearances in Tuesday’s game (2 hits, 2 walks), and was able to swipe 2 bags, making him 9-for-10 in steal attempts on the year. He set the table today by getting on base, and was able to score twice, and it’s a documented fact that the Angels have a higher probability of winning if Figgins scores at least 1 run in a game compared to not scoring. Great game today on the part of Figgy.

Current Halo of the Game Hit Streak: 5 (season-high – 8 games)

Halo of the Game Season Batting Statistics

16 G – .356 avg. (21-59), 2 HR, 9 RBI, 12 R, 5 2B, 0 3B, 9 K, 10 BB, 5 SB

Tomorrow’s Halo of the Game Pick: Kendry Morales

Tomorrow’s Probables

Baltimore will send out 34-year-old Japanese right-hander Koji Uehara (4 starts: 2-1, 4.56 ERA). Uehara is labeled as a rookie despite being 34 years old, due to this being his 1st year in the MLB after spending the last 10 seasons as a member of the Yomiuri Giants. Uehara put together an impressive record of 112-62 with an ERA of 3.01 in those 10 seasons in the Japanese League.

The Halos tabbed Matt Palmer (1 start: 1-0, 6.00 ERA) as tomorrow’s starter. The 30-year-old journeyman Palmer went 6 innings in his first career start with the Angels against Detroit, giving up 4 earned runs in an eventual 10-5 Angel win last Thursday.

Tomorrow’s day game in Baltimore against the Orioles is scheduled for 9:35 a.m. Pacific time (12:35 p.m. Eastern). I’ll still be asleep, but I’m hoping I can wake up to Angel win!

Go Halos!

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Angels Offense Rolling Lately Despite Vlad’s Absence

torii walkoffWho would have thought that the Angels lineup would be producing more runs without their most prolific run-producer of the past 5 seasons?

The man I’m referring to of course would be “The Big Daddy”, Vladimir Guerrero.

Since coming to Anaheim in 2004 as a free agent, Guerrero has done nothing more than tear it up with the bat on a game-by-game basis.

He won the American League MVP award back in 2004, his first year as a Halo, when he single-handedly put the team on his back and carried them into the postseason, only to get rocked by the BoSox.

Here’s his stat lines from the past 5 years, to understand the high-caliber hitter that the lineup is missing:

2004 (156 games): .337 avg./206 hits/39 doubles/39 home runs/126 RBI/124 runs scored

2005 (141 games): .317 avg./165 hits/29 doubles/32 home runs/108 RBI/95 runs scored

2006 (156 games): .329 avg./200 hits/34 doubles/33 home runs/116 RBI/92 runs scored

2007 (150 games): .324 avg./186 hits/45 doubles/27 home runs/125 RBI/89 runs scored

2008 (143 games): .303 avg./164 hits/31 doubles/27 home runs/91 RBI/85 runs scored

Let’s compute that out to an average Vlad-in-an-Angel-uniform year:

“Typical year” (149 games): .323 avg./184 hits/36 doubles/32 home runs/113 RBI/97 runs scored.

Your offense should be anemic if you’re missing a hitter like this in the lineup, right? I mean this is a guy who’s been consistently .300+ batting average, over 30 doubles, around 30 home runs, and more than 100 RBI per year over his entire MLB career. The normally weak and sometimes pathetic Angels offense should probably be tanking, putting up maybe 2 to 3 runs per contest right?

Well, of lately, that hasn’t exactly been the case, to the delight of Angel fans, myself included.

The Angels have put up 8 or more runs on the board 4 times in the past 5 games, a feat that only happened once in the previous 13 games (plenty of which featured Guerrero with his torn pectoral muscle in the lineup).

I think you have to look at two guys in particular who have been consistent all year: free agent pick-up Bobby Abreu and 2nd-year Angel center fielder Torii Hunter.

Abreu has been hot, batting .381 (8-for-21) with 2 doubles and 5 RBI. He’s been getting on base with great regularity all season, and is a perfect 8-for-8 on stolen base attempts. Once Guerrero gets back and starts swinging the bat to the level that baseball fans are accustomed to seeing from the free-swinger, Abreu is the ideal #3 hitter that Mike Scioscia has been looking for since 2004.

Hunter has been even hotter, batting .391 in the last 5 games (9-for-23), with two doubles, 2 home runs, and 4 RBI. Hunter also leads the team with 7 home runs in the 18 games he’s played in (19 officially but he got ejected in a game a while back in the 1st inning, so he didn’t even have an AB), after he put up 21 home runs throughout all of last season (146 games played).

The Angels are also getting sporadic sparks from different players, like Kendry Morales who exploded on April 22nd against the Tigers by going 2-for-5 with a 3-run home run and a 2-run double, giving him 5 RBI on the night.

Even a slumping Howie Kendrick was able to produce in the Angels’ final game of a home series against the Mariners, as Kendrick went 3-for-5 with 4 RBI. Kendrick knocked a 2-run home run, and had two run-scoring singles en route to a 8-0 thrashing of Seattle.

As much as the big run totals are a breath of fresh air for me, the consistency is not there with the exceptions of Abreu and Hunter. Morales has been a bit off (.266). Kendrick (.258) had been in a slump since the end of Opening Day. Neither Mathis (.227) nor Napoli (.237) can get consistent at-bats. Figgins hasn’t been able to get the bat on the ball much (.227), and Aybar (.255) hasn’t been able to get much going at the dish either.

To add to the lack of consistency, the Angels have not yet won back-to-back games, as in their longest winning streak of the year has been 1.

Three hitters are over .300 right now, in Abreu (.375), Hunter (.338), and Juan Rivera (.309). Maicer Izturis is the closest to the .300 mark at .289 and then it’s just a drop-off.

The Angels (7-11) have assured themselves of their first losing month since June of 2006 when they compiled a 12-14 mark, breaking a 15-month streak of having a winning record in the month when the calendar has to be turned.

I can’t fault the Angels, they’ve gone through more in the first 18 games of the year than some teams may go through in a year. Missing 2 All-Star pitchers in John Lackey and Ervin Santana, having your franchise slugger go on the DL for a month in Vladdy Guerrero, losing 2 more pitchers during the season in Dustin Moseley and Darren Oliver, as well as the shocking death of the young and promising pitching prospect Nick Adenhart.

They’ve had their fair share of adversity, and I’m beginning to feel confident that they will overcome all the obstacles that they’ve been dealt in this young season.

I’m learning to keep the faith in this team after feeling hopeless for a majority of the month of April, because things will turn around. It can only go up from here.

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4/26-Kendrick, Weaver Star In 8-0 Whooping of Mariners

hunter kendrickThe Angels came in to the game with a 1-4 record against the Mariners so far this season, and more importantly, a starting pitcher who had started the season in the initial 5-man rotation.

The Halos dropped the first 2 games of the series against Seattle with Shane Loux and Anthony Ortega (start was his MLB debut) as the starters on Friday and Saturday respectively, and Jered Weaver was the scheduled starter for the Angels on Sunday against former Angel Jarrod Washburn who had started the year on a tear for the M’s.

Weaver (2-1) was nothing short of brilliant, as he went 7 innings, allowing no runs on 3 hits, while striking out 5. Weaver now is 1-1 on the year against Seattle.

Washburn (3-1) got taxed early and would give up 6 runs on 8 hits in 5 1/3 innings of work, his shortest outing of the year. Wash would go 6 innings in his last outing against the Angels, giving up 2 runs on 4 hits in an eventual 11-3 Seattle win.

The Angels move to 7-11 and the Mariners drop to 12-7 on the year.

Game Notes

Howie Kendrick came alive. After his average dipped to .200 after the April 23rd game against Detroit, Kendrick is 6-for-11 in his past 3 games with 6 RBI. Kendrick went 3-for-5 tonight with 4 RBI, including a 2-run homer in the 2nd inning. He also would pitch in with 2 more run-scoring singles on the game as well, pushing his average to .258. This is the level that members of the Angel organization know Kendrick is capable of producing on day in and day out.

Jered Weaver put forth another sensational outing, going 7 scoreless innings tonight, while allowing only 3 hits. 5 K’s for Weav to only 2 walks, and he also did a good job of keeping his pitch count manageable so he could go 7 strong innings today. He got some run support today, and when the offense is good, starting pitching is good and bullpen is good (this may have been the first time that all 3 did well in a game this year), Weaver had the win well in hand.

Bobby Abreu chipped in with a 2-for-4 effort with 1 run scored and 1 RBI, raising his club-leading average to .375. I’ve been so impressed with Abreu to start this season, and for being a $5,000,000 off-season pickup, he’s been worth every penny so far.

Torii Hunter would go 3-for-5 on the day with 1 RBI and 2 runs scored, pushing up his average to .338.

The offense has been producing of late, scoring 8 or more runs in 4 of the last 5 games, after scoring 8+ runs once in the 13 games prior to that 5-game stretch this season.

The bullpen would really have had to implode in order to screw up this one. Scoreless innings have been hard to come by for Angel relievers, but Scot Shields and Brian Fuentes would each pitch a scoreless inning in this one… thankfully.

Chone Figgins and Kendry Morales each got the day off today from Mike Scioscia, as they are set to start up an 8-game road trip starting Tuesday. Brandon Wood took Figgins’ place at 3rd today, going 1-for-4 with a run scored and Robb Quinlan would also go 1-for-4 in Morales’ place.

Juan Rivera jacked his first home run of the year in the 4th inning off of Jarrod Washburn. Juanito is batting .309 for the year and seems to be hitting the ball the way he was back in that productive ’06 season.

Halo of the Game Review and Pick

4/26 Halo of the Game Pick: Bobby Abreu

Stat Line: 2-4, 1 R, 1 RBI, 1 2B, 1 BB, 0 K, 0 LOB

Abreu has gone hitless in only 3 of the 18 games he’s played in this year, and leads the team with a .375 batting average after a 2-for-4 effort Sunday night. His plate discipline has been great and it seems like with him in the lineup, the Angels are drawing more walks instead of sticking to that free-swinging/”swing away whenever in the count” mentality that has gotten the Angels nowhere in the playoffs the past few years. Still searching for his first homer on the season, but he no doubt has had a huge impact on the Angels offense this year.

Current Halo of the Game Hit Streak: 4

Halo of the Game Season Batting Statistics:

15 G – .339 avg. (19-56), 2 HR, 9 RBI, 10 R, 4 2B, 0 3B, 9 K, 8 BB, 3 SB

Tuesday’s Halo of the Game Pick: Chone Figgins

The Angels are off tomorrow, and will now go on the road for 8 straight games, with a two-game set at Baltimore to start it off.

Go Halos!

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It’s Time for Brandon Wood to get his Shot


Dear Mr. Scioscia,

The team is struggling offensively (except for last night) to start the season. Pitching is decimated. The bullpen is horrendous. Times are rough in the early goings of the ’09 season for the team who many projected to be the winner of the American League West.

But here’s something that is years overdue to happen: let Brandon Wood get his shot with the major league squad… and let’s have him get comfortable with extended at-bats.

Until the last 2 games, Erick Aybar and Maicer Izturis had been awful at the plate. Aybar made a crucial error in the field yesterday that pretty much sealed the Angels’ fate in the game.

So why not give Wood a shot?

Yeah, yeah, he played poorly when he came up in ’07 and in ’08, but the kid just turned 24 years old. He’s a solid defender and can be a magician with the bat. He hits for power and extra bases with regularity, and to be honest, is starting to remind me more and more of Nick Adenhart and his situation going from the minors to the bigs.

Wood has been highly touted as the “next big thing” in the Angels’ farm system ever since he was drafted. In 2005, he put up absolutely ridiculous numbers. He hit .321, with 43 home runs and 51 doubles in Class-A ball. Including triples and 3 more extra base hits in 4 games in AAA ball, it was the first time ever that a player in the Minor leagues hit more than 100 extra-base hits in one season. That’s unheard of and borderline unreal!

In 2006, he was ranked as the #3 overall prospect in the minors by Baseball America, and in ’07, was ranked as the #8 overall prospect, so people across the nation know the talent inside of the kid.

In 2007 and 2008, he could never really get a groove going, after being sent up and down over and over. But also, I think the big thing for Wood was that he knew how much the organization and their fans expected out of him, and it could’ve been a case of him trying too hard when he got his shot. Just like Adenhart, Angel fans expected so much out of him that when he got called up last year. But in his appearances, his control was off, he couldn’t seem to retire a batter at times, and had his ERA balloon up to 9.00. Then, with fewer expectations, he came up this year, and pitched his way through jams in 5 dazzling innings, giving Angel fans a reason to keep the faith in him, albeit it would be his last start of his career.

Brandon Wood needs to have that same mentality. If he can find a way to relieve himself of the pressure that’s been mounted on his shoulders, I’m confident that he can put up numbers that we all know he is capable of putting up, just look at his 2005 season when he was only 20 years old.

So, Mr. Scioscia, I say the time is now. Switch it up a little bit. Hell, you’re plucking guys out of nowhere at this point for pitching, why not give B-Wood his extended opportunity now when the offense has been nonexistent for 12 of the 14 games this year.

Just a thought from a fan who’s sick of seeing nothing but singles out of the offense and/or zero production with runners in scoring position. The way the offense has been playing for the majority of the year so far, it sure as hell can’t hurt, right? You no doubt have nothing to lose, so why not give yourself an opportunity to gain?

Just a thought.

– Michael

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