Only one day removed from the shocking and tragic death of 22-year-old pitcher Nick Adenhart, the Angels thought the best way they could honor his memory would be a victory over the visiting Boston Red Sox. And that’s exactly what they’d do Friday night.
Before the game, both teams and all fans in attendance observed a moment of silence for the deaths of Adenhart and two others who were in the same car as him Thursday morning. John Lackey and Torii Hunter held up Adenhart’s #34 jersey on the mound for the moment of silence.
Also before the start of the game, today’s starter Jered Weaver went out to the center field wall, where they now have an image of Nick Adenhart printed as well as his #34. He stood there for a brief moment, tapped the wall and headed back to the dugout. Torii Hunter ran out in the top of the 1st inning and also spent a brief moment in front of Adenhart’s image, and then the game got underway.
Jered Weaver put forth a brilliant performance for the Halos, going 6 2/3 innings, surrending 1 unearned run, striking out 8 batters and scattering 4 hits. When Weaver was taken out in the 7th inning with 2 outs, as he walked back to the dugout, he tipped his hat to the crowd, and pointed to the sky, as if to tell the fallen Angel, “This one’s for you, Nick.” Weaver and Adenhart planned on being roommates, with Adenhart scheduled to move in with Jered on Sunday. I bet his buddy would be awfully proud of his performance on the mound tonight.
The Angels would jump on top first, scoring 3 runs in the 2nd inning, and would tack on another 3 in the 7th, for their 2nd win of the year, moving to 2-2 overall.
2nd inning- With 1 out, Chone Figgins had Jeff Mathis on 2nd base and Maicer Izturis on 1st. Figgy would rip a Tim Wakefield knuckler into left center for his first double and RBI of the season, scoring Mathis and advancing Maicer to 3rd. Halos lead it 1-0.
Howie Kendrick would follow up Figgins’ knock with a 2-run single of his own, scoring Izturis and Figgins, putting the Angels up 3-0 early.
3rd inning- Jacoby Ellsbury stole 2nd base and took 3rd on a throwing error by catcher Jeff Mathis, setting up a David Ortiz sacrifice fly to score Ellsbury for Boston’s first run of the game. Halos are still up, with the score now being 3-1.
7th inning- Bobby Abreu would start the inning with a single, would swipe second base and advance to third on a sac fly by the Big Daddy Vlad Guerrero. Abreu would score on a sac fly to center field by Torii Hunter. The Halo lead is back to 3, the score being 4-1.
Still with 1 out and the Halos threatening with the bases loaded, Jeff Mathis would come up for the game’s most crucial at-bat in my opinion. On a 3-2 count, Mathis would lace a single by shortstop Jed Lowrie and in to left field, scoring Vlad Guerrero from 3rd and Kendry Morales from 2nd base, giving the Angels a 5-run cushion by the score of 6-1.
8th inning- Kevin Youkilis would chop one to 3rd base, reaching first base safely on the play, scoring Jacoby Ellsbury, but an error by Angels 3rd baseman Chone Figgins would also allow last year’s AL MVP Dustin Pedroia to come around and score as well. This would be the last time either team would score, making the final score 6-3 in favor of the Halos.
1- 3B Chone Figgins – 1-4, 1 RBI, 1 2B, 1 R, 1 K, 1 BB, 1 SB, 2 LOB
Figgy had his first extra base hit and RBI all in one swing of the bat, which gave the Angels their first run of the game, and as I could imagine, was a huge confidence booster in that dugout. With a lot on the Angels players’ minds, Figgins got the Angels off and running and set the tone early for the team.
2- 2B Howie Kendrick – 1-5, 2 RBI, 0 R, 2 K, 0 BB, 1 SB, 1 LOB
Kendrick’s one hit of the game was a difference maker, following up Figgy’s 2nd inning double to put the Angels up 3 early. Turned a double play in the 9th to guide the Angels to the win, and has played pretty good defense for the most part this season.
3- LF Bobby Abreu – 3-4, 0 RBI, 1 R, 0 K, 1 BB, 2 SB, 0 LOB
That a boy, Bobby! The first 3-hit game of the year for the Angels was delivered by first-year Halo Bobby Abreu, and he even stole 2 bags (even though it was against a pitcher who throws 69-70 mph max). That’s exactly what GM Tony Reagins and company had in mind when they inked Abreu to a 1-year deal this offseason. He has a hit in each game, and his plate discipline has been a great addition to the Halo lineup.
4- DH Vladimir Guerrero – 2-4, 0 RBI, 1 R, 0 K, 1 BB, 2 LOB
2 knocks for the Big Daddy tonight, and he’s still in that DH role because of a strained pectoral muscle that he says won’t allow him to throw comfortably. But hey, he can still hit, just as he’s done his whole career. No RBI tonight for Vlad, but still batted .500 in the game, and any game you can do that it is no doubt a success.
5- CF Torii Hunter – 0-1, 1 RBI, 0 R, 0 K, 1 BB, 0 LOB
Only 1 credited at-bat tonight, but he also drew a walk and drove in his first run of the season via a sacrifice fly. He continues to play the stellar defense that all MLB fans are accustomed to seeing out of him, and from what I saw yesterday from Torii, he shows more and more why he is worth every penny of the contract he was issued 2 offseasons ago. He addressed the media on the passing of Nick Adenhart in a solemn, graceful manner and continues to show why he is such a valuable clubhouse figure.
6- 1B Kendry Morales – 1-4, 1 2B, 0 RBI, 1 R, 1 K, 0 BB, 6 LOB
KMo stranded 6 Halos on base in his 4 AB’s tonight, but his double back in the 7th inning would ultimately set up a Jeff Mathis 2-run double to put away the game for good. So although the 1-4 may not stick out to you, his contribution to the ultimate game-clincher on the part of Jeff Mathis was crucial.
7- RF Gary Matthews Jr. – 0-2, 0 RBI, 0 R, 1 K, 2 BB, 3 LOB
Oh lord, we have a Gary Matthews Jr. sighting 4 games into the season. GMJ stepped in for Juan Rivera in the outfield today as Rivera had been given a day off by manager Mike Scioscia. I’ll give him credit, he actually got on base twice on walks (even though one was an intentional walk). I’m just hoping that Juanito gets back into the lineup tomorrow, because GMJ didn’t do much else. 5 years and 50 million for this? Buyers remorse for the Angels front office for another 3 years! Yay!
8- C Jeff Mathis – 2-4, 2 RBI, 1 R, 0 K, 0 BB, 3 LOB
I’m getting more and more encouraged by Jeff Mathis’s offensive production by the day. He came up with an incredibly timely hit in the 7th. Even though he had his first error of the season today, he continued to call a great game, and has allowed 7 runs in his 3 full games this season. The Angels are just better off with Mathis over Napoli behind the dish, and if that means sacrificing some power numbers for inserting Mathis in for more than a platooning role, I’m all for it.
9- SS Maicer Izturis – 0-4, 0 RBI, 1 R, 0 K, 0 BB, 4 LOB
Mighty Maicer got his first start of the season, and didn’t do too much with it. Maicer is a guy who can play great defense at shortstop as well as 3rd base and was arguably the Angels’ most clutch hitter in the 2008 season. It seems like the Aybar/Izturis situation at shortstop is quickly becoming the Mathis/Napoli situation of last year. Aybar has more range on defense, but Izturis makes less errors. Aybar is a streaky, slap-hitting table-setter, whereas Maicer isn’t as fast but is much more consistent with the bat. Mike Scioscia’s got a tough decision on his hands.
What a blessing this man has been to the Angels’ organization ever since he arrived in 2000. Mike is the epitome of a calm, cool and collected individual, and has really set the tone for the Angels’ clubhouse. He has transformed the team into a family, and not many managers can say that. He handled Nick Adenhart’s passing with such grace and compassion, and I respect Mike Scioscia so much for how balanced he always seems to be, through both good and bad. From all Halo fans, thanks for everything Mike, it’s times like these that show why this Angel front office wants you around as the team’s skipper for the next 10 years.
Halo of the Game Review and Pick
4/10 Halo of the Game Pick: Chone Figgins
Stat Line: 1-4, 1 RBI, 1 2B, 1 R, 1 K, 1 BB, 1 SB, 2 LOB
Chone had his first 2-bagger and RBI of the year today, and collected his 3rd stolen bag as well. Picked up his first error, but thankfully for the Halos, it wouldn’t cost them later on. Chone continues the hit streak!
Current Halo of the Game Hit Streak: 4
Halo of the Game Season Hitting Statistics:
.313 avg. (5-16), 1 HR, 3 RBI, 3 R, 1 2B, 0 3B, 3 K, 2 BB, 1 SB
Tomorrow’s Halo of the Game Pick: Kendry Morales
Red Sox: Brad Penny. Making his first start for the Sox on the year after being a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers for the past 5 seasons. Penny had two 16-win seasons with the Blue Crew, and his acquisition gave the Red Sox an even deeper rotation that last year’s.
Angels: Joe Saunders. Went 6 2/3 innings as the Opening Day starter against the A’s, giving up 0 runs. The lefty went 17-7 last year en route to an All-Star bid, and picked up where he left off on Opening Day. He will be the ace for the Halos’ staff for at least the first month of the season, and if he can pitch anywhere near the way he pitched in the Angels’ opener, he’s a guy Halo fans can feel comfortable with as their #1. Different reports are also saying that Shane Loux could be the scheduled starter for tomorrow, which would be the 29-year-old righty’s first big league start since 2003.
Tomorrow’s game against the Red Sox is scheduled for 1:10 Pacific time.