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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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4/14-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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