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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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4/22-Angels Cough up Lead, Rally Falls Short in 12-10 Loss

grandersonSurprise, surprise. The bullpen is at it again. But this time, they didn’t blow a stellar outing from the starting pitcher.

Joe Saunders was no bueno tonight, after being a dominant force in April last year. Saunders would go 5 innings, his shortest outing so far this year, giving up 5 runs on 7 hits, and striking out only 1 Tiger batter.

And if Saunders was no bueno, the Justin Verlander for the Tigers was muy malo. Verlander continued his horrid start to 2009 by completing 5 innings, but gave up 7 runs on 9 hits while also striking out 5. Verlander’s ERA is now up to 9 (I would kill for some Angel relievers to have their ERA be 9 at this point but I’ll get to that later).

The Angels’ offense came to play, though, putting up 10 runs on 16 hits, a pretty rare feat for the Halo offensive given their slow start to the year and now the absence of the Big Daddy.

The Tiger lineup one-upped the Angels though, however, putting up 12 runs on 18 hits, and the Angels just couldn’t quite hang with ’em in the end of the game.

Up 2 runs going in to the 7th inning, Scot Shields came in for some bullpen duty. Not much more needs to be said here really, but I guess I need to say it. Shields would face 4 batters in the inning, going hit, walk, hit, walk. 1 run would score on that final batter. Shields would record no outs officially. Just great.

Then Jose Arredondo would come in and proceed to give up 4 hits, allowing 3 more runs to be charged to Shields, and would give up another one, this one charged to himself. 5 runs in 1 inning.

Shields’ ERA is now 14.40. SWEET JESUS WHAT IS WRONG WITH THIS BULLPEN?!?!????!?!?!!?!?

What has happened to the formerly feared Halo bullpen. After 6 or 7 innings, if the Angels had the lead, they had those games clamped down for the past 3 or 4 seasons! Not even K-Rod could have solved this issue. It’s not just the closer. It’s the set-up men, the middle relievers, somewhat the closer… basically everyone except Darren Oliver (who is now technically a starter but whatever).

And then Jason Bulger comes in in the 8th, and mows down the Tigers 1-2-3. Seriously? This is a guy who lowered his ERA to 13.50. LOWERED. What is wrong with this picture… Scot Shields has a higher ERA than Jason Bulger, and Jason Bulger entered the game giving up 6 runs in 5 innings. Oh boy. My rant is over. I can’t take much more of this.

The Angels entered the 9th inning down 4 runs, but would cut the lead in half to 12-10 on a Juan Rivera 2-run double, but that score would be the final.

Every Angel would have at least 1 hit tonight, with 5 of the 9 Angel hitters accounting for 2 or more hits apiece.

Kendry Morales provided the offensive spark, driving in half of the runs for the Halos tonight. KMo would go 2-for-5 with a 3-run homer and 5 RBI on the night, no doubt his best night of the year considering that he came in to tonight’s game with 4 RBI in 13 games.

Torii Hunter and Maicer Izturis would each have 3 hits and an RBI in the game, and would hit 3 doubles between them (2 from Izturis). Hunter now has an 8-game hitting streak.

Curtis Granderson would hit his 3rd home run of the series, and his 5th on the year, going 3-for-4 on the night for the Tigers.

Brandon Inge would also pitch in with a home run in the 9th, a solo shot for his 5th of the year.

Juan Rincon (1-0) would pick up the win for the Tigers, and for the Halos, Scot Shields (0-2) would get the loss.

The Angels slip to 5-9, whereas the Tigers improve to 8-6 on the season.

Halo of the Game Review and Pick

4/22 Halo of the Game Pick: Mike Napoli

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

Napoli was about to be “that guy” in the lineup, meaning that he was going to be “that guy” that didn’t get a hit for the Angels when everyone else did for the game. Thankfully he got his chance in the 9th and hit a single to extend the hitting streak to a 3-spot. Yippee.

Current Halo of the Game Hit Streak: 3

Halo of the Game Season Hitting Statistics

14 G – .315 avg. (17-54), 2 HR, 8 RBI, 9 R, 3 2B, 0 3B, 9 K, 7 BB, 3 SB

Tomorrow’s Halo of the Game Pick: Bobby Abreu

Tomorrow’s Probables

The Tigers will be sending out former Dodger blue-chip prospect Edwin Jackson (3 starts – 1-0, 2.14 ERA) for the final game of the 3-game set.

The Halos will throw out… Matt Palmer? Uhhhh, well he pitched for the Giants last year, going 0-2 with a 8.53 ERA. God help us all.

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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4/14-Angels Bats Go Stagnant, Lose in 10th on Shields Error

griffeyIt was Ken Griffey Jr.’s first game as a Seattle Mariner after being away from the Emerald City for over a decade, but the guy I was looking out for was Mariners starter Carlos Silva. Silva had won 4 of his last 20 decisions, with an ERA of well over 6 dating back to last season. Today, Silva threw 7 innings, giving up 2 runs on only 4 hits. Silva was punished last year after going 4-15 with a 6.46 ERA, giving up over 7 1/2 hits in under 6 innings of works in a typical ’08 Silva start. The Halos couldn’t seem to get anything going whatsoever. Silva had 1-2-3 innings in the first 3 frames. The Angels did have their fair share of opportunities, that’s for sure.

The Angels ended 3 innings with at least 2 men on base, two of those opportunities were with the bases loaded. It seems like the Angels are picking up where they left off for all of last year, not being able to cash in with runners in scoring position. We all know how far that got the Angels.

Shane Loux went 5 1/3 innings in his first start with a major league ballclub since ’03 when he made a start for the Detroit Tigers. He gave up 2 runs on 5 hits, striking out 2.

Reliever Roy Corcoran got the win to move to 1-0 on the year for the M’s, and Scot Shields’ error on a throw down to first base would earn him the loss to drop him to 0-1.

The Mariners currently lead the AL West with a record of 6-2, while the Halos are a game under .500 at 3-4.

Scoring Recap

1st inning- Ronny Cedeno would lead off the inning with a walk, and would move to 3rd base on a base knock by Ken Griffey Jr. in his first plate appearance in a Mariners uniform since the 1999 season (he had 48 homers and 134 RBI that year… hasn’t put up numbers close to that ever since). Adrian Beltre would ground into a fielder’s choice, scoring Cedeno from 3rd, and resulting in Griffey being thrown out at 2nd. 1-0 Mariners.

4th inning- Following a Bobby Abreu double, and with Howie Kendrick on 3rd base, Vladimir Guerrero would ground out to 3rd base, scoring Kendrick, but not allowing Abreu to advance. All tied up at 1 apiece.

5th inning- Endy Chavez would knock a single into right center, scoring Franklin Gutierrez from 2nd base, and ending with Gary Matthews throwing an absolute dart to 3rd base to gun down Yuniesky Betancourt, who was trying to go from 1st to 3rd on the play. 2-1, los Marineros.

6th inning- With 2 outs, Torii Hunter would jack his 2nd homer of the year into the left field bullpen to pull the score even once again at 2 runs each. The score would not change, and require extra innings.

10th inning- With Franklin Gutierrez on 2nd base, Yuniesky Betancourt would drop down a sacrifice bunt to pitcher Scot Shields, who would airmail one over the head of Kendry Morales at 1st, plating Gutierrez and giving Seattle the 3-2 win.

Player-by-Player Recap

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

Figgins again would do a good job of getting on base, only to have the Angels squander the opportunities of having the speedster on the basepaths. No stolen bags today, but he has done a good job of setting the tone for the offense by getting on base in 3 of his 5 plate appearances. As I have mentioned before with Figgy, not much more you can ask of him than getting on base in more than 50% of his plate appearances. No run scored for Chone today though, snapping a 6-game streak of at least 1 run scored.

2- 2B Howie Kendrick – 0-3, 0 RBI, 1 R, 1 K, 0 BB, 1 HBP, 5 LOB

The 5 LOB sticks out to me. Howie would strike out with the bases juiced in the 5th, and would leave Figgy and Aybar on 1st and 2nd respectively in the 9th. Howie just has not been able to come through in the clutch in the duration of his young career with the Angels. Don’t get me wrong, HK has the potential to be an American League batting champion, but when all eyes are on him, he freezes up. If he doesn’t get rid of these jitters, how are the Angels ever going to get back to the World Series… let alone past the first round of the playoffs?

3- LF Bobby Abreu – 2-5, 0 RBI, 0 R, 1 2B, 0 K, 0 BB, 1 LOB

Abreu now is the only Angel starter with an average above the .300 mark, and has a hit in 6 of the 7 games he’s played in. However, like most Angels, he’s not hitting for extra bases. It took Abreu 7 games to get his first extra-base hit, but he’s been the only Angel that has been somewhat consistent at the dish.

4- DH Vladimir Guerrero – 0-4, 1 RBI,  0 R, 0 K, 1 BB, 2 LOB

In Vlad’s last 6 games, his hits have gone: 1, 0, 2, 0, 2, 0. The anti-consistency here from a historically consistent hitter. He’s not the only inconsistent Angel unfortunately, as many Halos have started off cold with the bat. Vladdy’s batting .250 to start the season, and in my opinion, isn’t quite used to having all that downtime between at-bats as a DH as compared to a positional player who goes out to the field every frame as well. Just a matter of a learning curve for the Big Daddy.

5- CF Torii Hunter – 1-3, 1 RBI, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 K, 2 BB, 1 LOB

Torii hit the game-tying round-tripper back in the 6th inning off of Carlos Silva, and like Chone Figgins, would get on base in 3 of his 5 plate appearances. Too bad the two batters following him would go a combined 0-9.

6- 1B Kendry Morales – 0-4, 0 RBI, 0 R, 1 K, 1 BB, 3 LOB

This makes it back-to-back 0-fers for KMo. Two games ago, he was leading the Angels in batting average, now he’s just about middle of the pack. It’s early in the season, yes, but the Angels will need him to produce and be able to drive in runs on a constant basis in order to be successful this year. He’s still the catalyst to the team’s success in my opinion.

7- C Mike Napoli – 0-5, 0 RBI, 0 R, 1 K, 0 BB, 2 LOB

I’m really trying to find something good to say about Napoli’s game here, but I just can’t. 0-for-5, no walks, he was the catcher in a losing effort. Sorry, Mike, I really can’t say much here. If he’s not hitting home runs, he’s not doing much… that’s what I’ve come to see of Nap. I never thought I’d say this, but I WANT JEFF!

8- RF Gary Matthews Jr. – 1-4, 0 RBI, 0 R, 1 K, 1 BB, 0 LOB

Matthews is batting .200 in his 3 games with more than 1 AB this season. He got the start in right today to give Juan Rivera the day off, who had been struggling of late, going 2 for his last 15. Matthews made a nice play in right when he gunned out Yuniesky Betancourt at 3rd base, but that’s about it. Only in Anaheim can $10,000,000 buy you a .200 batting average. Sigh…. But at least he didn’t leave any runners on base! … Then again, the 4 guys hitting in front of him hit a combined 1-for-16. Yikes.

9- SS Erick Aybar – 2-4, 0 RBI, 0 R, 1 2B, 0 K, 0 BB, 0 LOB

Aybar was 1 of 2 Angels with multiple hits today, upping his average to .188! Now you’re almost as good as Gary Matthews (sarcasm on)! The Halos only had 7 knocks on the game and Aybar pitched in 2 of those knocks himself, but it’s a shame that the 4-8 hitters in front of him had as many hits as Aybar (2) in 16 more at-bats. Figures, the one game he produces, no one else does.

Today’s MVP

Darren Oliver

The Olive Garden comes through! D.O. pitched 3 scoreless innings of relief for the Halos, striking out 4 batters while only giving up 1 hit. He only needed 40 pitches to get through his 3 innings of work, and really was the main reason the Angels even stayed in contention considering how silent the Angels’ bats were tonight. Props to the Olive Garden (as I’ve affectionately gotten to call the veteran lefty), he pitched 3 great innings tonight in a relief effort.

Halo of the Game Review and Pick

4/14 Halo of the Game Pick: Erick Aybar

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

Aybar was 1 of 2 Angels with more than 1 hit on the game, and was one of the only half-way competent hitters in the Angels lineup, along with Bobby Abreu (2 hits) and Torii Hunter (solo homer). Aybar extends the HotG hitting streak to a 7-gamer.

Current Halo of the Game Hit Streak: 7

Halo of the Game Season Hitting Statistics

.357 avg. (10-28), 1 HR, 5 RBI, 3 R, 3 2B, 0 3B, 5 K, 2 BB, 1 SB

Tomorrow’s Halo of the Game Pick: Vladimir Guerrero

Tomorrow’s Probables

Mariners: Jarrod Washburn (1-0). Wash threw 8 innings of 5-hit, scoreless ball in his first outing of the year against the Minnesota Twins in a 2-0 Seattle win. Washburn would lose all 3 of his starts against the Halos last year, going 18 1/3 innings, giving up 26 hits. Wash would allow exactly 4 runs in each of his starts. Washburn was a key ingredient to the Halos’ postseason success and ultimate World Series win back in 2002. In his career, Washburn has had 4 seasons with 14 or more losses, 3 of those 4 have come in the last 3 seasons, all with Seattle.

Angels: Jered Weaver (1-0). Jarrod vs. Jered, cute little side note there. Weaver would go 6 2/3 innings in his first start of the season vs. the Red Sox, surrendering 1 unearned run on 4 hits, while striking out 8 Boston batters. Weaver would go 2-1 in 4 starts against the M’s last year, with an ERA of  5.79. The Angels would go 2-2 in his starts against the Mariners in ’08.

A quick note here: today’s game against Seattle was initially scheduled to be Nick Adenhart’s 2nd start of the season. The Adenhart family plans to hold his funeral this Friday in his home state of Maryland, with a memorial service planned at his high school, Williamsport High.

Tomorrow’s game against the Mariners is scheduled for 7:10 Pacific time.

Go Halos!

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4/12-Vlad’s Late Homer Propels Angels to 5-4 Win

cleared benchesIt was Easter Sunday at the Big A, but in the bottom of the 1st inning, the game was nothing close to peaceful. Both benches cleared after Josh Beckett sailed a fastball over Bobby Abreu’s head while he was calling for time. Torii Hunter, Justin Speier and hitting coach Mickey Hatcher would all be ejected.

In the bottom of the 2nd with Kevin Youkilis batting, Mike Scioscia would yell something from the dugout at home plate umpire Joe West, only to be tossed on the spot.

Dustin Moseley would earn the win today for the Halos, going 5 2/3 innings while giving up 3 runs (2 earned) on 6 hits while striking out 3.

Josh Beckett would move to 1-1 on the season with the loss. Beckett would go 6 innings and give up 4 runs on 8 hits with 5 punchouts.

Jose Arredondo would allow no runs in his 1 1/3 innings of work, as would Scot Shields. Shields would load the bases with 1 out, but end up coming out of the inning unscathed, to set up Brian Fuentes for his 2nd save of the season in 3 chances.

Scoring Recap

2nd inning- After the Mike Scioscia ejection, Kevin Youkilis would hit a solo homer to left field, to put the Red Sox on top early on Easter Sunday, 1-0.

J.D. Drew would make it back-to-back jacks, hitting a home run to right field off Moseley to give the Red Sox a 2-0 advantage in the early goings.

3rd inning- With 1 out, Maicer Izturis would score from 2nd on a Howie Kendrick single into right field to pull the Angels to within 1 run. On the play, Chone Figgins would advance to 3rd base, and Kendrick would end up at 2nd on the throw (official scoring: Kendrick single). 2-1 BoSox.

The next batter would be Bobby Abreu, who would drop a single into shallow right field, scoring both Figgy and Kendrick to put the Angels from down 1 to up 1. 3-2 Halos.

5th inning- With 1 outs and Maicer Izturis on 2nd base because of a Josh Beckett balk, Kendrick would come through again with a single into left center, scoring Izturis, but resulting in Kendrick being tagged out at 2nd after trying to leg out his single into a 2-bagger. 4-2 Angels now.

6th inning- On a double steal with Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis on the basepaths, Pedroia would score and Youkilis would take 3rd on a throwing error by Angels catcher Mike Napoli. The Red Sox would now cut the lead to 1 with the Halos in front 4-3.

8th inning- In need of a little breathing room considering the way the bullpen has been in the early goings of the season, Vladimir Guerrero would belt his first homer of the year into left field. The Big Daddy’s solo dinger would give the Angels a much-needed 2-run cushion by a score of 5-3 with the Halos in front.

9th inning- David Ortiz would knock a single the opposite way, scoring Nick Green from 2nd base to bring Boston to within 1, but that’s the closest they’d get. The Halos win it 5-4, and take the series 2 games to 1.

Player-by-Player Recap

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

Figgy got on base in 3 of his 4 plate appearances, which is exactly what Mike Scioscia wants out of his speedy leadoff man. Figgins would steal his 5th base in 6 starts today, as well as get caught stealing for the first time on the year. Not much else you can ask out of Figgins if he’s getting on base 75% of the times he’s up.

2- 2B Howie Kendrick – 3-4, 2 RBI, 1 3B, 1 R, 0 K, 0 BB, 1 LOB

Kendrick came up with 2 huge knocks today, in his first productive game since Opening Night. He would have 2 run-scoring singles that would prove to be crucial to the outcome of today’s ballgame. He helped turn 2 double plays today as well in the field and was instrumental to the Angels’ success in this contest. Good work, Howie.

3- RF Bobby Abreu – 1-4, 2 RBI, 0 R, 1 K, 0 BB, 2 LOB

Abreu’s one knock of the game was a big one, scoring two on a single of his back in the 3rd inning. Abreu would get the last laugh with Red Sox starter Josh Beckett, as he hurled one over Abreu’s head in the first inning, sparking both benches to be cleared. Abreu’s squad came out on top in today’s game, and his doinker into shallow right was a big reason why.

4- DH Vladimir Guerrero – 2-4, 1 RBI, 1 R, 1 HR, 0 K, 0 BB, 2 LOB

The Big Daddy would come up big in the bottom of the 8th inning and jack his first homer of the year to give the Angels a 5-3 edge, and that added run would be enormously important since Boston would counter with a run of their own in the top of the 9th. Vladdy posted his 3rd multi-hit game of the season today, and his homer would ensure the Angels of the W.

5- CF Torii Hunter (ejected in 1st inning, no plate appearances)

Replaced by: Gary Matthews Jr. – 1-4, 0 RBI, 0 R, 0 K, 0 BB, 1 LOB

Matthews had to step in for the tossed Torii Hunter, going 1-4 in a game that you kind of forgot Matthews was even playing in. Nothing spectacular, but hey, he was in the lineup in a winning effort. I guess $10,000,000 a year for being a 5th outfielder ain’t too bad after all.

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

Kendry was in the Easter spirit, as we found an egg in his hit basket today. Kendry put up an 0-fer today after going 2-4 in yesterday’s ballgame, but is still yet to make an error on the season at first base. We all know his talent at the plate, but his defense had been under intense scrutiny ever since the Halos brought him over from Cuba. So far, so good with the leather.

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

So Nap goes 3-for-3 with 2 home runs and a double yesterday, and the Angels lose. Today, he puts up an 0-for-3 showing and the Angels win. Reverse psychology maybe? Is the “less is more” theory in play with Napoli? Either way, Nap gets his first win of the year in his 3 starts, even though he did make an error that would cost the Halos a run. So go figure this, yesterday, Kendry and Nap go 5-7 with 2 home runs and 2 doubles, leading to a Halo loss. Today, they go a combined 0-7 and are winners. That’s a head-scratcher.

8- LF Juan Rivera – 0-3, 0 RBI, 0 R, 2 K, 0 BB, 2 LOB

Rough day at the dish for Juan, and that’s about all you can say. He’s currently 4-of-19 on the season at the plate with 1 run scored and 1 extra-base hit. Juan better get it in gear, because I don’t want to see Mr. Matthews Jr. inserted into the lineup with too much frequency… actually with no frequency whatsoever would probably be in the club’s best interest.

9- SS Maicer Izturis – 2-3, 0 RBI, 2 R, 0 K, 0 BB, 0 LOB

Mike Scioscia got a lot of production out of his 9 spot today, and Mighty Maicer would come around to score 2 of the Angels’ 5 runs on the afternoon. Maicer would make an uncharacteristic error in the 5th, but the Angels finally got some production out of their shortstop spot in the lineup today.

Today’s MVP

Vladimir Guerrero

His 8th inning blast would be a game-changer, and an ultimate game-clincher. The Big Daddy picked the perfect time for his first round-tripper of the season, because that extra run would be much needed by Halos closer Brian Fuentes in that 9th inning.

Halo of the Game Review and Pick

4/12 Halo of the Game Pick: Bobby Abreu

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

Abreu’s 2-run single in the 3rd would give the Angels their first lead of the game, and a lead that they’d hold on to for the rest of the contest. Abreu now is in a tie for the club’s RBI lead with 6 runs driven in, and has an RBI in 4 of his first 6 games in a Halo uniform.

Current Halo of the Game Hit Streak: 6

Halo of the Game Season Hitting Statistics:

.333 avg. (8-24), 1 HR, 5 RBI, 3 R, 2 2B, 0 3B, 5 K, 2 BB, 1 SB

Tomorrow’s Halo of the Game Pick: Erick Aybar

Tuesday’s Probables

Mariners: Carlos Silva. Silva went 5 innings, giving up 6 runs on 8 hits (2 of them home runs) to the Twins in his first outing of the year, picking up right where he left off the year before. Silva went 4-15 with a 6.46 ERA in 28 games for the M’s in 2008. The Angels offense hasn’t been overly impressive to begin the season, but they have to be licking their chops at the thought of facing a guy who serves up an awful lot of meatballs on the mound.

Angels: Shane Loux. Loux will be making his first start of the year Tuesday, as well as his first major league start since the year 2003. The 29-year-old right-hander was born in Rapid City, South Dakota and graduated from Highland High School in Gilbert Arizona. Loux was in the minor leagues between 2003 and his return in 2008, and now finds himself as another Angel with an opportunity to prove his worth as a valuable member to the Angels’ staff.

The Halos are off tomorrow as they travel to Seattle to take on the Mariners for a 3-game set.

Go Halos!

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