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Hunter Withdraws From 2009 All-Star Game, Joins Vlad on DL

th injured

vlad injuredApparently an All-Star Game selection was Superman’s kryptonite this season.

The Halos’ Superman of the first half, Torii Hunter, withdrew himself from competing in the upcoming MLB All-Star Game today due to an injury he’s been playing with for almost 2 months. Nelson Cruz, a power-hitting outfielder for the Texas Rangers will replace Hunter in the Mid-Summer Classic.

As you may remember back in the first series with the Dodgers at Chavez Ravine in May, Torii slammed into the center field wall straight on while trying to make a grab on a long fly ball. Well, like Torii usually does, he made the catch… but he had to come out of the game for what would later be a nagging strained adductor muscle in his right side. He would re-aggravate it in a series with the San Francisco Giants in mid-June on an eerily similar play.

This injury not only forces Hunter out of what would have been his 3rd All-Star game, but also forces him to go on the Disabled List, where he’s eligible to come off and play on July 22nd.

If there’s any time to go on the DL, it’s now. With only 1 series left to play before the All-Star break, he’s only scheduled to miss 9 games, instead of being somewhere around 13 or 14 games if it had been any other time during the year.

Hunter also earlier declined an invitation to participate in this year’s Home Run Derby.

The Angels’ offensive leader is tops on the team in home runs with 17, and his 65 RBI ranks 3rd best in the American League.

As they say, misery loves company. It’s hard to call Torii misery, but his company will be Vladimir Guerrero.

The Big Daddy will join Mr. Hunter on the DL as well after planting his left leg awkwardly in right field during a game with the Rangers Tuesday night.

The current diagnosis consists of a strained muscle behind his left knee, as well as a hamstring strain.

Just as it seemed the Vladdy was getting his extra-base power back, he hits another setback in a year where he’s already missed 38 games while on the Disabled List. Vlad is scheduled to come off the DL at the same time as Hunter.

Coming up to replace the two men who combine for 11 All-Star appearances will be catcher Bobby Wilson, and “Mr. Get called up, play a few games, get sent back down” himself, 3rd baseman Brandon Wood.

This may now allow Jeff Mathis to be the regular catcher, while moving Mike Napoli back to the Designated Hitter role where he hit the ball exceptionally well earlier in the season with Vlad on the DL.

Wilson is hitting .261 with 6 home runs and 27 RBI for AAA Salt Lake.

As for Wood, he’s batting .313 with 17 homers and 52 RBI and has the 3rd best slugging percentage mark in the Pacific Coast League with a .592 mark for the Salt Lake Bees.

The Halos have a tough 3-game set with the Yankees before the All-Star break, and without their #3 and 4 hitters in the lineup, they’ll have their work cut out for them against quality starters in Joba Chamerlain, Andy Pettitte and C.C. Sabathia.

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Hunter and Fuentes Selected to ’09 All-Star Team

fuentes and hunter
After today’s All-Star team rosters were announced, I’m proud to say that two very deserving Angels made the squad, those two being the Halos’ first half Superman in Torii Hunter, and first-year closer Brian Fuentes.

In 75 games played, Torii has posted a .304 batting average, along with a club-best 17 home runs and 63 RBI to go along with some stellar center field play (still 0 errors on the season… hopefully this won’t jinx him!). He’s been on fire all year long, and without his hot bat during Vlad’s DL stint, who knows where the Angels would be. One thing’s for sure, they sure as heck wouldn’t be sitting atop the AL West.

He will be making his 3rd All-Star appearance, as he finished 4th in outfield voting, barely missing a starting spot behind Seattle Mariner hit machine Ichiro Suzuki, Boston Red Sox slugger Jason Bay, and the Texas Rangers’ comeback kid in Josh Hamilton, who has only played in 35 of the team’s 80 games this year (but I guess that’s what you get when the fans vote).

And for Fuentes, he’s been successful on 24 of 27 possible save opportunities this year, and that 24 saves is tops among all MLB closers. After a rocky start to the season (blowing 2 of his first 7 save opportunities), Fuentes has been in a groove, shutting the door in 19 of his past 20 opportunities. He hasn’t given up a run since May 30th and in 10 appearances during the month of June, he allowed no runs and only surrendered 3 hits to opposing lineups.

Fuentes was selected in by the players and coaches, with this being his 4th All-Star appearance of his career (All-Star from 2005-2007 with the Colorado Rockies).

The 2009 All-Star game takes place on Tuesday July 14th under the Gateway Arch in beautiful St. Louis, Missouri.

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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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