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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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4/21-Matthews Sparks Angels to 4-3 Win

matthews figginsMaybe it was a little home cooking that the Angels needed.

The Halos took down the visiting Detroit Tigers in the opener of a 3-game set by the score of 4-3. The Angels managed 10 hits altogether, with only 2 of those being for extra bases, but the last hit of the game for the Angels would be the biggest. It also would come off the bat of the man who has struggled mightily since he has come to the Angels… none other than Mr. Gary Matthews Jr.

Matthews, with 2 outs, the score tied and Torii Hunter on 2nd base, would lace a double to deep center, scoring Hunter and giving the Angels a 4-3 lead. The lead would be their first of the ballgame, and Brian Fuentes would come in to close it out in the 9th for his 3rd save of the season in 4 opportunities.

The Angels move to 5-8 on the year, while Detroit drops to 7-6 overall.

Thoughts on the Game

It all started with Jered Weaver, who put forth a quality start and managed his pitch count relatively well. Weav would go 7 innings, giving up 3 runs on 7 hits, while striking out 6. More importantly, he did not walk a batter, and would need 99 pitches (72 for strikes) to finish his 7 innings of work, earning him a quality start. He’s been doing a better job this season compared to seasons past of keeping his pitch count per inning down, allowing him to go deeper into games. As well, he’s been throwing more strikes, but that hasn’t necessarily been a good thing. He’s striking out 7.71 batters per 9 innings, but also is allowing over 10 hits per 9 innings pitched. So although he’s finding the strike zone with relative ease, sometimes he’s found a little too much of it (4 HR in 3 starts). 2 of Weaver’s 4 homers of the year would come tonight off the bat of Curtis Granderson, including a leadoff home run to start the game. Weaver would get a no decision, after leaving the game when it was all knotted up at 3 apiece after 7 frames.

The bullpen didn’t implode, flop, collapse, fail, stink, whatever. Jose Arredondo was credited with the win (1-0) after throwing a scoreless 8th inning. The 8th started with an error on 3rd baseman Chone Figgins, allowing Placido Polanco to reach 1st base. Arredondo was unfazed, and forced a very capable hitter in Magglio Ordonez to ground into a double play. Miguel Cabrera, who was batting .489 with 4 homers and 12 RBI grounded out to end the 8th.

Brian Fuentes would come in in the 9th to close the door on Los Tigres and would do just that. After allowing a single to Carlos Guillen, he would pick off Guillen’s pinch-runner Josh Anderson for the 1st out of the inning. Adam Everett would strike out, making it 2 outs, the Angels still with a 4-3 lead. Then, Fuentes would get me nervous. With 2 strikes, he would hit catcher Gerald Laird. Catch your breath, people, it’s OK. Then, he would walk. Alright, now you can get nervous. But then, all would be just in Halo land as Fuentes would strike out Ramon Santiago to end the game.

Ahhhhh… you don’t even know how good it feels to be able to blog after a win. Especially when the one, the only, Gary Matthews Jr. is the MVP/hero of the game!

Gary Matthews Jr. would knock a 2-out RBI double in the 8th inning with the score tied at 3-3 to give the Angels their first lead of the game at 4-3. Matthews would also have a sacrifice fly in the game, giving him 2 RBI on the game (had 1 RBI entering the game). Matthews came in to the game batting 3-of-17 (.176), with no extra-base hits. His first extra-base hit of the season would be an ultimate game-decider, and that hit would push his average to an even (yet far from impressive) .200 as he would go 1-for-3 on the game.

Torii Hunter would hit a game-tying home run in the bottom of the 5th inning, his 5th home run in 13 games played this year. Hunter seems to be the only Angel hitting for extra bases so far this year, and thankfully, they can count on someone other than Vlad Guerrero (DL for at least 1 month) for power numbers.

Bobby Abreu pushed his Angel-best average to .373 as he went 2-for-4 tonight with 1 run scored. Abreu has had a hit in 11 of the 13 games he’s played in this year, with 7 of the 11 games being multi-hit games.

Erick Aybar and Maicer Izturis also stepped up tonight for Mike Scioscia (who got ejected midway through the game) in that 9-spot and the 3-spot in the lineup respectively. Aybar would go 2-for-4 with 1 RBI and Izturis would also go 2-for-4. Aybar was 5-for-26 coming in to the game and Izturis was 1-for-17, yikes. But they got it done tonight.

Halo of the Game Review and Pick:

4/21 Halo of the Game Pick: Torii Hunter

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

Torii’s solo homer would knot up the game at 3-3 in the 5th inning, and would score the game-winning run in the bottom half of the 8th inning on Gary Matthews Jr.’s 2-out RBI double off of Brandon Lyon. He did just enough tonight, and thankfully his power numbers continue early this season. He also moves the streak along to 2 straight.

Current Halo of the Game Hit Streak: 2

Halo of the Game Season Hitting Statistics

13 G – .314 avg. (16-51), 2 HR, 8 RBI, 8 R, 3 2B, 0 3B, 8 K, 5 BB, 3 SB

Tomorrow’s Halo of the Game Pick: Mike Napoli/Jeff Mathis (whoever it may be).

Tomorrow’s game against the Detroit Tigers is scheduled for 7:05 Pacific Time.

The Tigers will be throwing out right-handed fireballer Justin Verlander (3 starts- 0-2, 7.88 ERA). Verlander can rack up the K’s if he’s on, but if he’s off, he can give up runs in bunches. Verlander was the American League Rookie of the Year back in 2006, and threw a no-hitter on June 12, 2007 against the Milwaukee Brewers. He had as many losses in 33 starts in 2008 (17) as he did in the 64 starts accumulated in the 2005, 2006 and 2007 seasons combined.

The Angels will send out lefty Joe Saunders (3 starts- 2-1, 2.18 ERA). Saunders has held down the #1 role in the 4-man rotation and has looked composed and collected in all 3 starts. Saunders was an all-star last year after going 17-7 with a 3.41 ERA.

Go Halos!

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4/8-Oakland Rallies for Six Runs in Final Two Innings, Angel Bullpen Falters Again

nomarIf only this one could’ve ended after 7 innings. The A’s were held scoreless through the first 7 frames, but found a way to manufacture 6 runs in the final two innings to come out with a 6-4 win, moving to 2-1 on the season.

The Halos, meanwhile, would take a 4-run lead into the 8th inning, only to have Oakland put up 3 in the inning to move it to 4-3.

Brian Fuentes would come in to try to close it out in the 9th and would get two outs relatively quickly. Kurt Suzuki would tap a little dribbler down the first base line, but Napoli did not call off a charging Brian Fuentes, leading to no out on the play. Nomar Garciaparra would pinch hit and single in the game-tying run. Mark Ellis and Matt Holliday would follow Garciaparra’s lead and hit back-to-back run-scoring singles, to give Oakland a 6-4 lead heading into the Halos’ final AB’s.

The Angels would be unable to muster up a noteworthy rally and drop the game by a score of 6-4.

It’s unfortunate because Angels starter Nick Adenhart rebounded from a shaky 1st inning, and would throw 6 innings of scoreless baseball, scattering 7 hits, walking 3 batters and striking out 5. I was impressed with the way of how he performed under pressure situations, especially when he dug himself into some pretty deep holes. But, he got out of them and remained composed, and overall I was really impressed with the way he performed, and I’m looking forward for what the future has in store for this kid.

Scoring Recap

4th inning- With no outs, Juan Rivera knocked a base hit into right center, scoring Torii Hunter who led the inning off with a base knock, and also advancing Kendry Morales to 2nd base. Angels up 1-0.

Following up Rivera’s knock, Mike Napoli would club one into right center for a double after center fielder Rajai Davis couldn’t quite glove the deep knock. Kendry Morales would score on the play, and Juan Rivera would end up on 3rd. Angels now make it 2-0.

Erick Aybar would bat next and hit a sacrifice fly to center field to bring in Rivera. The Halos would be done scoring for the inning, but lead the game 3-0.

7th inning- After Chone Figgins walked to start the inning, he then stole 2nd and advanced to 3rd on a throwing error by catcher Kurt Suzuki, Bobby Abreu would lift a sacrifice fly into right field to score Figgy, making it a 4-0 Halo advantage.

8th inning- From here on out, it would be all Oakland. Following two singles against Jose Arredondo to start the inning, Scot Shields would come in to the game, strike out the first batter he faced, and then allow Mark Ellis to ground into a run-scoring fielder’s choice to 3rd base. Chone Figgins chose to throw home when he could’ve gone across the diamond to get an out but elected not to. This would bite the Angels in the behind later on.

With two outs, leadoff man Ryan Sweeney, who would go 3-5 for the game, would lace a single to center field, scoring both Kurt Suzuki and Mark Ellis, cutting the Angel lead to 1, by a score of 4-3 after 8 innings.

9th inning- Brian Fuentes would come in to try to get the save, and would end up recording two outs until Kurt Suzuki would tap one down the first base line for an infield single. This was a ball where Mike Napoli should have called off Fuentes and thrown to first, but instead neither player would be able to get a clean grip and Suzuki would be safe. Nomar Garciaparra would pinch hit for Travis Buck and promptly knock a clean single into left field to knot the game up at 4.

The next batter was Mark Ellis who would hit an infield single to a diving Erick Aybar, who would have no chance of throwing out Ellis. Kurt Suzuki would score on the play, and Garciaparra would move to 2nd, giving the A’s their first lead of the game, 5-4.

Following up Ellis was big offseason splash Matt Holliday, who knocked a long single to center field, scoring Kurt Suzuki, and giving the A’s their second straight 6-4 victory over the Halos.

Player-by-Player Recap

1- 3B Chone Figgins – 1-3, 0 RBI, 1 R, 0 K, 2 BB, 1 SB, 0 LOB

Figgy would reach base in 3 of his 5 plate appearances, but still does not look like his normal self with the bat. He’s 2 for 10 to start the season, has 2 stolen bags in his first 3 games, so he’s still making the most of his limited on-base opportunities. Defensive decision-making in the 8th inning on the throw home was a horrible decision. With a 4 run lead, you get the sure out and let the run score, the Halos got neither, and that would just prolong the inning and ultimately, end up in a loss.

2- 2B Howie Kendrick – 1-5, 0 RBI, 0 R, 1 K, 0 BB, 4 LOB

Kendrick still couldn’t get anything going today, making him 1 for 9 in his past 2 games. Had that big Opening Day game where he was the offensive spark, but in the past 2 he hasn’t been able to spark up anything offensively.

3- RF Bobby Abreu – 1-4, 1 RBI, 0 R, 1 K, 0 BB, 1 LOB

Abreu has a hit in each of his first 3 games as a Halo, but is batting just 3 for 13 overall. He’s doing a good job of sacrificing runs in for the Angels who have not looked all that impressive through their first 3 games, but give Abreu more time, and if Figgy and Howie can start to get on base and give Abreu RBI opportunities, he will come through as he has year after year throughout his career.

4- DH Vladimir Guerrero – 0-4, 0 RBI, 0 R, 2 K, 0 BB, 2 LOB

The Big Daddy posted a nice, fat bagel across the board today, and actually swung at a pitch that bounced maybe 7 feet in front of the plate. Hey, that’s Vladdy though, he’s been known to golf balls off the dirt into the bleachers 400 feet away. Not a good game for him, but he doesn’t stay in offensive funks for too long.

5- CF Torii Hunter – 1-4, 0 RBI, 1 R, 0 K, 0 BB, 0 LOB

Hunter continues to make good contact with the ball, but just can’t seem to find any holes in the defense. He’s putting good wood on the pitches he sees, and it’s only a matter of time for when a 1-4 showing turns into a 3-4 outing. Keep the faith, Torii.

6- 1B Kendry Morales – 2-4, 0 RBI, 1 R, 2 K, 0 BB, 0 LOB

Kendry has been the most productive hitter for the Halos through the first 3 (.364 batting average), but he must really want his 1-5 guys to start getting on base. Tonight, the 1-5 hitters went a combined 4-20. I think Kendry is still going to be the catalyst to this team’s success for the season, but you can only do so much when you have limited RBI opportunities. He’s done very well in his first 3 games in my opinion and has played adequate defense as well, and has had back-to-back multi-hit games.

7- LF Juan Rivera – 2-4, 1 RBI, 1 R, 0 K, 0 BB, 0 LOB

Juan and Kendry had as many hits (4) as the 1-5 hitters had, and nearly half the total of hits for the entire team in this one. He made up for his 0-4 showing yesterday and looked comfortable with the bat tonight. He benefited from Kendry’s ability to get on base, and looked like the Juan that Halo fans got accustomed to seeing back in 2006.

8- C Mike Napoli – 1-3, 1 RBI, 0 R, 1 K, 1 BB, 3 LOB

Nap got his first start of the year tonight at catcher, and would hit a deep double into right center today for his first hit of the year. However, Napoli also showed me why I’d rather have Jeff Mathis in the game at catcher than him. Mathis just has better control of his pitchers and has better control of the game. Nap also allowed a stolen base tonight, Mathis didn’t allow any stolen bags in his 2 starts this season. Plus, Napoli’s decision-making ability is sub-par at best. Memo to Mike Scioscia: start Mathis tomorrow. Please.

9- SS Erick Aybar – 0-3, 1 RBI, 0 R, 2 K, 0 BB, 1 RBI

He currently has the honor of having the lowest batting average of any of the Halo starters thus far with a .125 average. Got his first RBI of the year, but hasn’t done much with the stick so far. His defense has been impressive so far, and has played flawlessly in the field.

Tonight’s MVP

Nick Adenhart

The 22-year-old righty had a shaky first inning, but would rebound to throw 6 solid innings of scoreless ball. His composure impressed me, and he has come along way from how he threw in the big leagues last year. Adenhart earned a win tonight with his ability to get out of jams, but unfortunately, the bullpen thought otherwise and tanked it in the final two frames. Starting pitching has been solid so far, but the bullpen is costing the Angels some early victories. Better early than late I suppose. But kudos to Nick for a solid first outing of the year, and I now can see how much promise there is in this youngster. His fastball was about 92-93 mph all game, and his curve at times was an absolute knee buckler… his future looks very bright.

Dub’s Halo of the Game Review and Pick

4/8 Halo of the Game Pick: Torii Hunter

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

Nothing special by any means out of Torii tonight and starts the season with 3 hits in his first 13 at-bats. Torii’s offense will pick up sooner than later, but he improved the HotG streak.

Current Halo of the Game Hit Streak: 3

Halo of the Game Season Hitting Statistics:

.333 avg. (4-12), 1 HR, 2 RBI, 2 R, 0 2B, 0 3B, 2 K, 1 BB, 0 SB

Tomorrow’s Halo of the Game Pick: Chone Figgins

Tomorrow’s Probables

A’s: Brett Anderson. The 21-year-old lefty will be making his MLB debut tomorrow, the second A’s pitcher to do so in this series. Anderson was a part of the bronze medal-winning team USA team at the Beijing Olympics. Threw one inning in the 2008 Futures Game in Yankee Stadium, a game which recognizes the top up-and-coming players in all of baseball. Anderson is arguably the top pitcher coming out of their farm system and some say that he has the ability, and the stuff, to become great in time.

Angels: Jered Weaver. Last year’s Opening Day starter for the Halos due to injuries to John Lackey and Kelvim Escobar, Weaver would end up going 11-10 with a 4.33 ERA, striking out 152 batters in 176 2/3 innings of work. The lanky 26-year-old right hander aims to get the Angels back on track, in hopes to salvage a series split with the A’s, who currently hold a 2-1 win advantage over the Halos.

Tomorrow’s game against the A’s is scheduled for 7:25 p.m. Pacific time.

Go Halos!

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