Tag Archives: opening

4/6-Saunders, Kendrick Carry Halos to Opening Day Shutout of A’s

Howie AbreuWho needs Mark Teixeira and Francisco Rodriguez? Well, after one game, the Halos apparently don’t. Angel baseball is off and running on a good note this year, as the Angels blanked the A’s 3-0 for their first Opening Day shutout since 1978.

Joe Saunders, an all-star and 17-game winner in 2008 got the nod from skipper Mike Scioscia to take the mound as the Opening Day starter, and he was nothing short of spectacular. Saunders pitched 6 2/3 innings of three-hit shutout ball en route to his first victory of the season. Saunders would walk two batters and strike out two batters as well in his 6 2/3 innings of work.

Jose Arredondo, who burst onto the scene last year with 10 wins and a 1.62 ERA would come in for Saunders with two outs and strike out Jack Cust to end the 7th inning.

Scot Shields would need only need 11 pitches to get through the 8th inning unscathed, and offseason acquisition Brian Fuentes, a native of Merced, California, hammered down the A’s in the 9th to earn his first save as a Halo and secure the Angels of their first victory of the season.

An interesting little fact here, the last time a left-hander was tabbed as the Angels’ Opening Day starter was back in 2002 with Jarrod Washburn. You may also remember that the Halos would go on to win the World Series over the San Francisco Giants in an epic 7-game series…. Let’s hope history repeats itself this year!

Scoring Recap

3rd inning- With 1 out, Howie Kendrick roped a single in to right center field, plating Jeff Mathis, who led off the inning with a single from 2nd base, as well as advancing Chone Figgins to 3rd.

3rd inning- With 2 out, following a Bobby Abreu popout, Vladimir Guerrero would ground one to the right of a diving Orlando Cabrera, who would glove the ball cleanly but throw a tricky two-hopper over to Nomar Garciaparra at first, who could not come up with the ball initially, allowing Vladdy to reach safely and score Figgy from 3rd. Kendrick would advance to 2nd on the play.

5th inning- With 1 out and no one on base, Howie Kendrick would blast a Dallas Braden offering up and over that high right center porch and into the stands for a solo shot, his first and the Angels’ first homer of the year.

Player-by-Player Recap

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

Didn’t do much with the bat today and was kept off the basepaths, but made a fine play going to his right and firing across the diamond, showing off his unheralded arm and defensive skill. The Angels always seem to be better off whenever Figgy scores at least 1 run in a game, and tonight was no exception.

2- 2B Howie Kendrick – 2-4, 1 HR, 1 run, 1 K, 0 LOB

Offensive MVP of the game no doubt about it. Kendrick is known for being a great line drive hitter, and I was even more impressed with the way he was utilizing the opposite field today. That shows the mark of a great hitter, and for a guy who hit .360+ routinely in the minor leagues, there’s no doubt that Howie will be contending for a batting crown in his career. Made an error in the 3rd for what should have been an inning-ending double play, but made up for it with the bat in the bottom half of the inning and in the 5th as well with that solo shot.

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

This was Abreu’s first game as an Angel, and in his first at-bat, he was everything I had envisioned and hoped for. He worked the count to 3-2, and followed it up with a nice base knock right over the 2nd base bag. The rest of the game didn’t quite follow his lead. 2 strikeouts and a first-pitch popout from a guy who is notorious for seeing as many pitches as any other player in the league wasn’t exactly satisfying. Played the part defensively, but I think Abreu will do a great job as a 3-hole hitter for the Angels this year as he can get on base, drive in runs, steal bases and hit for power as well.

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

With his 3rd inning RBI infield single, Vladdy passed Frank Robinson for the most all-time RBI on Opening Day games in a career with 19. The Big Daddy did a good job of going back up the middle and it was encouraging to see Vladdy leg one out, seeing that his off-season knee surgeries have held up (so far). Vladdy doesn’t have the legs that he used to back in his Montreal days, but he still sure as heck can hit. Vlad will benefit big time from having a patient, experienced veteran like Bobby Abreu in front of him instead of someone like Maicer Izturis plugged into the 3-spot as we saw last year from time-to-time.

5- CF Torii Hunter – 1-4, 0 RBI, 0 R, 0 K, 2 LOB

Nothing really special or noteworthy out of the gregarious center fielder today, but he did get a base knock. No errors in the outfield for the game, and tomorrow Torii will be presented with his 8th consecutive Gold Glove award for his magnificent play in center field for the Halos throughout all of last year.

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

Not the start Kendry would’ve wanted, but that’s why he has 161 more games to make up for it. I’m still confident that Kendry can produce at a high level, and as the season goes on, he’ll be belting home runs and driving in runs from the 6th spot in the lineup with solid regularity.

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

Juan made up for the no-show of Morales who hit in front of him. He laced a nice double in the 6th, and pitched in with a single in the 4th. Not much action in the field for Juanito, but it’s an encouraging sign to see Juan hitting already, as he never was given the opportunity to get consistent at-bats last year and find a groove.

8- C Jeff Mathis – 1-3, 0 RBI, 1 R, 1 K, 2 LOB

Jeff Mathis’ first at-bat went for a base knock. Go figure. In the one time he got on base, he ended up coming around to score, but more importantly, he caught a shutout today. Mathis called a great game and just seems to be the superior defensive and game-calling catcher compared to long-ball hitter Mike Napoli. Jeff also made a great throw-down to 3rd base to get Mark Ellis on an attempted double steal. The throw was a little high and Figgins made a nice catch and tag on the play, but Mathis had a whole lot of zip on his throw, something the Halos haven’t seen behind the dish since the days of Bengie Molina. His defense seems to be a constant, but the hitting would just be an added bonus.

9- SS Erick Aybar – 0-3, 0 RBI, 0 R, 0 K, 3 LOB

Aybar couldn’t get anything going with the bat today, but played solid defense, and started an inning-ending double play in the 2nd, when the A’s were threatening with 2 men on base. Aybar had a strong spring and I think he’s going to be a solid hitter in the 9-hole for Mike Scioscia with his speed and slap-hitting ability. Plus, Aybar is as acrobatic as they come in the field at shortstop and has incredible range.

Tonight’s MVP

Joe Saunders & Howie Kendrick

Saunders was fantastic in his 6 2/3 innings of three-hit ball en route to a team shutout of the A’s. Kendrick’s RBI single in the 3rd was all the Angels would need in the run column, but he figured a solo jack in the 5th would put away the A’s for good. This is a good sign to see Saunders dominating early considering the fact that the Halos will most likely be without John Lackey, Ervin Santana and Kelvim Escobar for April’s entirety.

Dub’s Halo of the Game Review and Pick

4/6 Halo of the Game pick: Howie Kendrick

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

So far, so good! Howie was the Angels offense in this one, so I’m sure glad I picked HK47 in this one.

Current Halo of the Game Hit Streak: 1 (Every time my Halo of the Game gets a hit, it adds to the hitting streak. No hits means the streak goes back to 0 of course)

Tomorrow’s Halo of the Game pick: Vladimir Guerrero (facing a righty fireballer tomorrow, much to his liking)

Tomorrow’s Probables

A’s: Trevor Cahill. The righty will be making his MLB debut tomorrow at the ripe age of 21. This is a guy who manager Bob Geren says could become a Brandon Webb-like pitcher in the future. Throws anywhere between 88 and 95 on his fastball and throws a hard sinker, which is his #1 pitch. The Halos struggled last year when they faced a kid making his MLB debut. Chris Waters of the Baltimore Orioles 1-hit the Angels in 8 innings of work back on August 6th of last year, en route to an Angel loss.

Angels: Dustin Moseley. Moseley steps in as the #2 starter on the decimated Halos’ staff to start the season. The 27-year old righty went 2-4 last year for the Halos while posting a fat ERA of 6.79 in 12 appearances. Moseley would go 0-1 in 3 appearances against Oakland in ’08, striking out 7, while giving up 7 runs in 9 1/3 innings pitched. Moseley is undeniably not your desirable #2 starter, as a matter of fact, I’m not so sure he’s even a #6 or 7 starter when all are healthy, but it’s up to Moseley to determine his worth.

Tomorrow’s game against the A’s is scheduled to begin at 7:05 Pacific time.

Go Halos!

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under April Game Recaps

Offseason Review and Opening Day Preview

SaundersThe Halos and Athletics will open their season at the Big A Monday Night, with the first pitch scheduled for 6:05 p.m. Pacific time. Either the Angels or the Athletics have won the American League West division for each of the past 7 years, and 8 of the past 9.

Last year, the Halos ran away with the division, finishing with a league-best record of 100 wins and 62 losses. The A’s, on the other hand finished third at 75-86, 3 1/2 games behind the 2nd place Texas Rangers, and a whopping 24 1/2 games behind the first place Halos.

The A’s brought in one of the league’s best bats in Matt Holliday, but were forced to part ways with their young closer Huston street, a highly touted outfield prospect in Carlos Gonzalez, as well as pitcher Greg Smith. They also brought back former MVP Jason Giambi (who won it as an Athletic back in 2000), a solid shortstop and great character guy in Orlando Cabrera, and Nomar Garciaparra, a guy who can still put up solid numbers if he’s healthy (but he’s also a guy who has played half the season or less in 4 of the past 6 seasons).

The Halos, on the other hand, lost the free agency market’s most sought-after bat in first baseman Mark Teixeira to the New York Yankees, the single-season saves record holder and constant at closer for the past 4 years in Francisco Rodriguez, lifelong Angel Garret Anderson to the Braves, as well as a solid end-of-the-rotation starter in Jon Garland to the Diamondbacks to name a few. The Halos would end up re-signing outfielder Juan Rivera to a 3-year deal, bringing in former Colorado Rockies closer and a Southern California native in Brian Fuentes, extending starter Ervin Santana’s deal for an additional 4 years, bringing in a free agent outfield bat in veteran Bobby Abreu and let’s not forget to mention maybe the smartest move of the offseason for the Halos, extending skipper Mike Scioscia’s contract through the 2018 season.

This seems to be a year where the youngsters will determine how successful the Angels will be. Guys like Kendry Morales (the powerful, switch-hitting 25-year old first baseman who has some huge shoes to fill at first base as he takes over for Mark Teixeira), Howie Kendrick (a guy who has hit well in the regular season and improved his defense over the years, but has struggled mightily in postseason play), Jeff Mathis (a kid who calls a great game behind the dish for the Halos but has been almost an automatic out in each of the past 2 seasons) and even Brandon Wood (that is, if he can even get a shot at the Bigs this year).

Vladimir Guerrero isn’t getting any younger, and the Halos will be without their top three starters (outside of Joe Saunders) in John Lackey (elbow, out through April), Ervin Santana (elbow, out at least a month) and Kelvim Escobar (initially thought that he would be out through the All-Star break, but reports have it that he is months ahead of schedule after recovering from a torn labrum that forced him to miss all of last season). This marks the second straight year that the Halos start the year with Big John and Kelvim on the disabled list. Guys like Nick Adenhart, Dustin Moseley and even Shane Loux seem to be the frontrunners to take the rotational spots, all three are quite unproven heading in to this year, causing many to raise red flags in regards to the Halos taking the AL West crown again this year.

I look for the Angels and A’s to battle for the top spot for the majority of the season, and I really think the A’s are going to surprise a lot of people this year. If they can stay healthy, they may give the Angels a run for their money at the AL West’s top spot.

On to the Opening Day probable starters:

The A’s will send out Dallas Braden, a 25-year old lefty who has been continually sent up and down between the majors and AAA over the past 2 seasons. He was a guy who went in to Spring Training as the A’s projected 4th starter in the rotation, but pitched very well over the course of the spring, and due to an injury to their #1 starter Justin Duchscherer, an Opening Day start fell into Braden’s lap. Braden pitched in 19 games last year, 10 of them starts, putting together a record of 5-4 with an ERA of 4.14. Braden would tally 71 2/3 innings in the 2008 campaign, striking out 41 batters and walking 25. Braden has been pitching to contact much more of late, something that the Angels’ lineup will either live or die by, considering how many of the Angels hitters have that aggressive plate mentality. Braden went 1-0 in 5 appearances against the Angels last year with an ERA of 2.08.

The Angels also throw out a lefty in Joe Saunders, a guy who the Halos would send to the 2008 All-Star Game after an impressive yet surprising season. Saunders would finish the season at 17-7 in 31 starts, while tallying 198 innings pitched. Saunders would strike out 103 hitters and walk 53 over the course of the ’08 campaign. Make no mistake about it, Saunders’ strongest month of the season was April, a month in which he went 5-0 in six starts with a low ERA of 2.08. He would go 3-1 in his 4 starts against the A’s last year, with an ERA of 3.18, and is 5-2 in his career against Oakland.

Halo of the Game:

Whoever the “Halo of the Game” is, is an offensive player that I will be following for the course of the upcoming game, and after the game has ended, I will review my selection of the player with how they fared for the game. I thought this would be a fun game to play over the course of the year and see how my picks do. I will be keeping a tally of batting average, home runs, RBI, doubles, triples and maybe a few other categories. The first Halo of the Game will be 2nd baseman Howie Kendrick.

Go Halos!

1 Comment

Filed under Offseason

1 day until Angels’ Season Opener

vladdy2Opening Day is now upon us! I can’t wait for the Angels to get their season off and running tomorrow. I am pretty encouraged from the numbers that the Halos have put up from this year’s Spring Training. The thing I was most impressed with was their offensive efficiency. We had been accustomed to seeing the Angels put up 10+ hits in a given game and only manufacture 2, maybe 3 runs a contest. This spring, the Angels put together a league-best record of 26-8, manufacturing,  just under 8 runs per game and scoring double digit runs in 10 contests. For a player breakdown, here are some of the players who have impressed me this spring, as well as those who left something to be desired from them.

Impressive:

Kendry Morales – 1B – Spring Stat Line: 85 ABs/.400 avg./3 HR/17 RBI/11 2B/2 3B/18 R

After the Halos lost first baseman Mark Teixeira and his fat contract in free agency to the big-name free agent black hole that is the New York Yankees, Kendry Morales now had his shot to step in as an everyday first baseman. He had been playing behind Casey Kotchman and Teixeira, leaving him virtually no shot at getting an everyday starting role until now. Kotch got sent to the Braves in the Teixeira mid-season rental deal and now Tex is off getting millions in NYC, but Kendry had put together an impressive spring to where Halo fans may feel just fine with Morales over Big Tex. He is a fine, young talent at only 25 years of age, and hits for power from both sides of the dish, something you don’t come across to often. I’m looking for KMo to show the baseball world the talent and promise that the Halos have seen all along. Heck, Mike Scoscia even said, “If we’re wrong on this guy, then it will be the worst miss we’ve ever had here.”

Erick Aybar – SS – Spring Stat Line: 54 ABs/.407 avg./3 HR/11 RBI/3 3B/15 R/5 SB

We all remember how the Angels got eliminated from the postseason last year. The botched suicide attempt. …Yeah let’s just move on from that. That’s been Erick Aybar’s mentality, and the stats don’t lie. The kid’s been doing great at the plate and has as much range in the field as any shortstop I’ve ever seen. Aybar lobbied for the starting job last year with the versatile Maicer Izturis, and that would be the case again heading in to Opening Day. We will have to wait and see tomorrow night whether or not Erick or Maicer will get the nod at short for the season opener, but Aybar made a strong case for manager Mike Scioscia to give him the job off the bat.

Jeff Mathis – C – Spring Stat Line: 53 ABs/.340 avg./4 HR/13 RBI/6 2B/14 R

Mathis, to put it lightly, has struggled mightily with the bat in his big league appearances. Mathis and the word “strikeout” have pretty much gone hand-in-hand whenever he’s been at the dish for the Halos. However, Mathis calls a great game, and last year, compared to Mike Napoli’s starts, Mathis would allow one whole run fewer than Napoli. This means, say Napoli’s pitchers had an ERA of 4 whenever he starts at catcher, that means that Mathis’s pitchers would have an ERA of 3 on his starts. Coming from a catcher himself, Halos’ skipper Mike Scioscia said, “If you string out 162 games, and you have one catcher who’s giving up one run a game less. As net runs go, he’s 162 runs ahead. There’s a defensive aspect of catching we pay a lot of attention to. I think a catcher will influence a game more with his defense than he will with his four at-bats.” Now that Mathis is hitting (go figure), and Nap had a down spring, (.179 average, striking out nearly once every three at-bats) I’m hoping that Mathis will get the opening day job, but Scioscia loved platooning the two in for one another last year. Hopefully it can just be one guy this year, but we’ll have to see how the season unfolds for both Jeff and Nap.

Other solid springs:

Brandon Wood – SS/3B – Spring Stat Line: 59 ABs/.322 avg/4 HR/13 RBI/5 2B/14 R

Played solid defense at third and short this spring, and like Mathis, had always seemed to have trouble with the bat at the big league level. Hit very well over the course of this spring training, but did not make the Opening Day 25-Man roster.

Howie Kendrick – 2B – Spring Stat Line: 62 ABs/.339 avg/2 HR/13 RBI/4 2B/15 R

One of the most gifted hitters to ever come through the Halos’ farm system, Kendrick continues to produce. Kendrick played well last year, hitting .306 with 26 doubles in 92 games, but injuries haven’t allowed him to play more than 100 games in a season since he’s been given the starting role at second.

Chone Figgins – 3B/utility – Spring Stat Line: 71 ABs/.380 avg./1 HR/10 RBI/2 3B/17 R/9 SB

Still one of the biggest threats on the basepaths in all of the Major Leagues, Figgy is still getting it done. He plays sensational defense anywhere on the field, whether it be at third, second, or in the outfield, and just has a knack of “hitting it where they ain’t.” Chone should be getting the Opening Day start at third, as he has the past few years.

Is that all you got?

Juan Rivera – OF – Spring Stat Line: 61 ABs/.230 avg./1 HR/12 RBI/3 2B/6 R

Come on now, you’re telling me a big guy like Juan Rivera slugs the same amounts of home runs in Spring Training as Chone Figgins? Sweet lord, Juan, we all know you can do better than that. Juan is still a guy with a cannon arm in the outfield, but it remains uncertain if he or Vlad will hold down the DH spot. If Juan can get a full season of hitting under his belt, he may be able to replicate and eclipse his impressive ’06 numbers (.310 avg./23 HR/85 RBI/27 2B in 124 games).

Mike Napoli – C – Spring Stat Line: 39 ABs/.179 avg/3 HR/9 RBI/1 2B/8 R

Nap has never been one to hit for a high average. He just blasts those long bombs from time-to-time. Not as good of a defensive catcher as Mathis, but certainly has had the edge on Jeff with the bat. Last year, Napoli hit .273 with 20 homers, whereas Mathis hit a dismal .194 with 9 homers in 16 more starts than Napoli. We all know the power is there, and Nap had as good of an eye at the plate as anyone in the line-up last year with the 2-month exception of Mark Teixeira, it just all depends on Scioscia’s grand scheme of things when it comes to divvying up starts between Mathis and Napoli.

Gary Matthews Jr. – OF – Spring Stat Line: 41 ABs/.244 avg/2 HR/12 RBI/2 2B/8 R

Always has been lauded for his defense, but ever since his one all-star year in Texas (which inclined the Halos to offer him a 5-year, $50 million contract), he has not done so hot with the stick. This spring is no exception. Now in the third year of that ridiculously fat contract, and $33 million still to be paid to the order of Mr. Matthews, things looked bleak for the former Gold Glover as he was given permission to leave camp for a day. Matthews said he was not told he was being traded, but Mike Scioscia said of the whole situation, “Gary has made it clear to us that he wants to play every day, but right now, that’s not where we’re at.” If he’s in the Opening Day plans, God help us all.

It’s been a great Spring Training for the Halos, but now it’s time to move on to the season that counts.

The Halos open tomorrow against the division rival Oakland Athletics at 6:05 Pacific time at the Big A.

Tomorrow’s probables are:

A’s: Dallas Braden – last year’s record: 5-4/4.14 ERA/19 games, 10 starts

Angels: Joe Saunders – ’08 All-Star selection – last year’s record: 17-7/3.41 ERA/31 games, 31 starts/1 CG

Go Halos!

2 Comments

Filed under Offseason