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Weaver Snubbed & A Solution to Prevent Future Unwanted Snubbage

I’ve been all for having each team being represented in the All-Star Game… until today.

Today just made me realize that the under-qualified and under-represented took priority over the clearly qualified, and that is an absolute shame.

You know the story by now.

Angels’ ace Jered Weaver was left off the All-Star roster despite his numbers giving him a fantastic shot of reaching his 1st All-Star Game… let alone with it being in his home stadium.

It’s not like Weaver was  “on the fence” to begin with.

He should be in the game.

Here are Jered Weaver’s statistics on the 2010 season:

8-3 record/2.82 ERA/124 K/26 BB/1.06 WHIP/.217 BAA

He ranks 1st in the American League in strikeouts, 3rd in WHIP (Walks + Hits / Innings Pitched), and holds the AL’s 6th best ERA.

Looking at his 17 starts on the season, in his 8 wins, he has been great in each, going more than 6 innings in each win (going 7 or more in 5 of those 8 wins), and in his 3 losses, you could say he had a better chance to lose rather than win on that given day (allowed, 4, 4, and 6 runs in those respective losing decisions).

But looking at the games where he was given a No Decision shows that Weaver’s 8-3 record doesn’t do his half-season performance total justice.

In Weaver’s 6 No Decisions, he had given up 2 runs or less in 5 of those 6 starts, outings by Jered that definitely should have given him a W compared to a ND.

His record could potentially be 13-3 at this point if all happened to go right on those days (it usually doesn’t work out that way but let’s just roll with it).

So which starting pitchers did get in to the All-Star Game? Let’s run down the list here.

Clay Buchholz, Boston Red Sox. Deserving. The kid’s been fantastic this year. 10-4 record with the 3rd lowest ERA in the American League at 2.45, Buchholz no doubt deserves his 1st All-Star nod, but as we’ll get into later, the key to Weaver’s potential last chance of an All-Star game appearance lies in the hamstring of Clay Buchholz.

Trevor Cahill, Oakland Athletics. Deserving. Oakland was one of 3 American League teams to have just 1 player represent their team, but Cahill represents the A’s well. The 3rd youngest player on the American League roster (the 2 youngest are Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus [21] and Rangers closer Neftali Feliz[22], the 22-year-old Cahill got a deserving selection into the All-Star Game and should have been in regardless of whether or not each team had to be represented. 8-2 record, sub-2.75 ERA, the kid is where he belongs, on the roster for the first time in his incredibly young career.

Phil Hughes, New York Yankees. Deserving. Hughes has faltered of late, allowing 19 of his 40 earned runs on the season in his last 4 starts alone, so it’s safe to say he stumbled into the All-Star Game roster. He stands at 10-2 with a less than impressive 3.83 ERA for an All-Star, but before the string of ERA-inflated outings, he was 8-1 with a 2.71 ERA, a little more telling of how his season had been going. Still a deserving 1st-time bid.

Cliff Lee, Seattle Mariners. Deserving. He joined Ichiro as the other Mariner to be selected to the All-Star Game, and he’s been downright filthy since the start. Lee’s got the lowest ERA in the AL (2.34) as well as the lowest WHIP ratio (0.95!). If that wasn’t enough, Cliff Lee has been as accurate and as tough to hit as any pitcher out there. His strikeout-to-walk ratio is an otherworldly 14.83… that’s more than 3 times as good as the American League’s next-best qualified starting pitcher… Jered Weaver. Lee is up there as one of the league’s top arms, he was an All-Star shoe-in.

Jon Lester, Boston Red Sox. Deserving. Lester’s 2010 season got off on the wrong foot. After his first 3 starts, he had an 0-2 record with an ERA of 8.44 (15 earned runs in 16 innings pitched). Since that atrocious start, Lester has won 10 of 11 decisions, and cut his ERA down by more than 5 1/2 runs to be at 2.76. A top-5 American League pitcher in ERA, WHIP, strikeouts, and innings pitched, Lester deserved his 1st All-Star appearance.

David Price, Tampa Bay Rays. Deserving. David Price has been living up to his #1 overall draft pick potential in 2010. He currently has an AL-leading 11 wins, and the 2nd best ERA (2.42), there’s no way that someone should have gotten this All-Star spot over Price. He has been outstanding this year and is completely deserving of heading to the Mid-Summer Classic. Oddly enough, of the American League’s 8 starting pitchers, Price is one of 6 to be making their first career All-Star appearances.

CC Sabathia, New York Yankees. Deserving. Joe Girardi made this an easy choice, but let’s not have that take away from what Sabathia has meant to the Yankees. The guy’s been a straight horse for Girardi’s bunch. He’s thrown the 2nd most innings pitched in the AL and is tied for the 2nd most wins with 10, as well as having the AL’s 7th best WHIP mark of 1.13. A worthy 4th All-Star selection for the hefty lefty.

Which brings us to our final All-Star starter…

Fausto Carmona, right-handed pitcher of the Cleveland Indians making his first career All-Star appearance.

The only player on the roster from the Cleveland Indians (it should have been outfielder Shin-Soo Choo to be the Indians representative if anybody). So this was really the “have-to-put-somebody-in” pick for the AL.

On the season, Carmona’s 7-7 with a 3.69 ERA, and a 1.29 WHIP ratio. Carmona’s 7 wins is the lowest of the AL All-Star starters. His 7 losses is the most of the AL All-Star starters (the next lowest is 4). His 3.69 ERA is the 2nd worst of the AL All-Star starting pitchers, and by a slim margin.

Let’s compare Carmona’s 2010 numbers to Weaver’s 2010 numbers side-by-side:

Weaver-      8-3 record/2.82 ERA/124 K/26 BB/1.06 WHIP/.217 BAA

Carmona-   7-7 record/3.69 ERA/57 K/39 BB/1.29 WHIP/.250 BAA

Who has more wins? – Weaver

Who has fewer losses? – Weaver

Who has a better ERA? – Weaver

Who has been tougher against hitters? – Weaver

Who is clearly the more deserving pitcher here? – Weaver

In conclusion, Weaver has won more, lost less, held a lower ERA by close to a full run, struck out over 60 more batters, walked 13 fewer batters, allowed fewer baserunners, and allowed allowed fewer hits to opposing batters.

No-brainer, right?

Wrong, buddy.

Because of the “everybody gets represented” rule, Carmona, the clearly inferior pitcher in this comparison gets the All-Star nod because his team had nobody else to put in. Let’s be clear here, the Indians are not what you’d call an above-average baseball team (32 wins is tied for the 3rd lowest in all of baseball). The Indians would need way more than Rick “Wild Thing” Vaughn, Willie Mays Hayes, and Pedro Cerrano to even be considered a middle of the pack ballclub (but shipping off Cy Young winners CC Sabathia and Cliff Lee as well as All-Star catcher Victor Martinez in the past few years kind of put them in this spot).

This representation rule lets fans know that it’s about quantity over quality.

Statistically speaking, was Fausto Carmona more deserving than Jered Weaver? No.

But representatively, he was “more deserving” because the Indians had no one from their team selected while the Angels already had Torii Hunter penciled in as a reserve.

It’s ridiculous to me, but hey, it is what it is. Me writing this won’t tell Joe Girardi to get up and erase Fausto’s name out and throw that lanky kid Weaver’s name in there instead.

So as it stands, Jered Weaver is left out of the All-Star Game… for now.

But back on June 26th, BoSox’ All-Star right-hander Clay Buchholz injured his hammy while running the bases, and this injury might just set him on the Disabled List, potentially paving the way for Jered Weaver to be his All-Star replacement. If this indeed happens (it appears likely Buchholz will miss his next start), don’t sleep on Felix Hernandez, though. His 6-5 record doesn’t quite do him justice, but when you look at the numbers, the scales tip in Jered’s favor if you had to pick between him or King Felix for the spot.

Update: Andy Pettitte selected through player voting to replace Buchholz

The “every team needs to be represented” rule isn’t just negatively affecting the American League (I could also get into the snubs of deserving guys like Kevin Youkilis, Michael Young and Andy Pettitte, Alex Rios even?), it’s just as prevalent if not even more so in the National League.

Let’s first look at the case of Cincinnati Reds’ first basemen Joey Votto (a first-half National League MVP candidate, I might add). Despite being in the top-5 in the National League in batting average (.312), home runs (19), RBI (57), runs scored (53), on-base percentage (.412), slugging percentage (.572), and OPS (.984)… Votto is still not on the team. It’s tough to make the squad when you’re competing against guys like Albert Pujols, Ryan Howard and Adrian Gonzalez (all who made the team), and it wouldn’t make much sense to carry 4 first basemen, but in this case, it would have.

You’re telling me outfielder Michael Bourn of the Astros, hitting a not-so-eye-popping .260 with 20 RBI is more deserving than Joey Votto because he didn’t have another player on his team worthy of being an All-Star? I know they don’t play the same position and hence couldn’t fill the same roster spot but still, come on, really?

Let’s also take a look at Mat Latos, the talented 22-year-old starter for the San Diego Padres. The youngster’s been unbelievable for the Pads this year, putting together a 9-4 record with a 2.62 ERA and a league-best 0.96 WHIP ratio. The guy’s had 5 outings of 7 or more innings without allowing a run this year and has been instrumental in vaulting the Padres to the National League’s best record as it currently stands.

He didn’t make it either. However, Brewers’ hurler and All-Star-elect Yovani Gallardo injured an oblique muscle… which may just lead to a more than deserving All-Star nomination for the youngster Latos (a similar case could easily be made for the Mets’ Mike Pelfrey as well).

The biggest snub in my mind is Miguel Olivo, catcher for the Colorado Rockies. How in God’s beautiful green earth he isn’t the starting catcher for the NL is beyond me. Fan voting put Yadier Molina (really? … the guy isn’t even hitting .230!) in for his 2nd career All-Star appearance (another part of the All-Star game that needs to be altered somehow is the usage of fan voting… read on to see my solution). And the reserve catcher nomination went to the Braves’ Brian McCann. I can deal with McCann being an All-Star, but not Molina. Here’s why.

Here are the statistics of those three backstops: (bold indicates the best mark among the 3 players)

Molina-    .229 avg./3 HR/31 RBI/12 XBH/16 R/.309 OBP/.302 SLG/.611 OPS

McCann- .265 avg./10 HR/34 RBI/23 XBH/38 R/.381 OBP/.449 SLG/.830 OPS

Olivo-       .307 avg./11 HR/39 RBI/22 XBH/37 R/.363 OBP/.538 SLG/.901 OPS

It’s safe to say that this year, Yadier Molina isn’t quite in McCann or Olivo’s class. But yet, there he is. Starting in the All-Star game despite hitting 78 points lower than a guy who isn’t even on the squad. Of those 8 statistical categories, Olivo is best in 5 of them amongst the three listed catchers, and loses 2 of those categories by only 1 extra base hit and 1 run scored.

Fact: there will always be snubs. Somehow, someway there will always be at least 1 All-Star snub.

Problem: fan voting, while necessary to give baseball fans a feeling of importance that they can potentially select the starting lineups all by themselves, is not implemented in the best possible way.

Quick and easy two-part amendment/solution to avoid roster snubs and to just plain “get it right”:

#1.) First, get rid of the “each team gets represented rule.” If you’re deserving, you’re in. If you’re the best player on a bad team and you don’t meet the qualifications for an All-Star bid, too bad. Some form of equal representation will not unfairly help you get in over someone else whose team already has somebody into the All-Star Game.

Case in point: if you’re good enough, you’re in. Doesn’t matter if you already have a player from your team on the roster or not, if your season’s numbers should earn you an All-Star appearance, you’ll be rewarded for your performance fairly.

#2.) Second, to select All-Star starters, you take a little bit of both in regards to the current system. What I mean by this is that you effectively combine how All-Star starters are selected (fan voting) and how reserve All-Stars can be appointed (All-Star manager’s selection). What you do is you allow fan voting to take place, but once voting ends, you take the top-3 vote-getters at each position, and the manager will choose the most deserving of those 3 to be the starter at that particular position. You still allow fans to have a say in who could start in the All-Star Game, and with the manager’s approval, you just about eliminate the chance that an oft-injured fan-favorite who has spent most of the season on the DL will start in the All-Star Game, leading to at least 1 fewer snub if that were the case.

Case in point: who the All-Star team’s manager views as the best player of the fan-voted top-3 at each position will be appointed a starting job in the All-Star game. It keeps the fan in a position of power without completely stripping fans of their individual vote’s significance, and by the manager selecting 1 of the top-3 vote-getting players at each position, I feel that this could be a reasonable and realistic solution for the All-Star Game and its rosters to be almost as right as they could possibly be

Enough of hearing about the snubs, it’s time for the All-Star game to get a face-lift.

Heck, if the All-Star Game can change it’s rules to where the outcome of the game decides something unbelievably important (who gets home field advantage in the World Series), why can’t it change its rules to where the Mid-Summer Classic rewards baseball’s best players, regardless of team, instead of rewarding a decent player on a team that can’t seem to rack up more than 8 wins in a month over a guy who is clearly deserving but already has his club represented in the game?

We all know that something has to change. There’s nothing worse than seeing a guy you pull for being snubbed in favor of some middle-of-the-road guy on a last place team… the sentiment Angel fans are currently feeling.

It’s just not right.

And it’s time that that changed.

If you have any resolutions that you’d like to see implemented into the All-Star Game, feel free to comment or let me hear it on Twitter by replying to @TheHalosBlog!

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What About Bob?

Move past the .188 career batting average.

Don’t look too deeply into the sub-.270 career on-base percentage.

Disregard the fact that the guy has driven in exactly a handful of runs in 31 career games.

Statistics don’t do justice to what Bobby Wilson brings to the Angels.

Bobby Wilson is a winner.

Bobby’s been another one of Mike Scioscia’s interchangeable parts of late with the slew of injuries that have plagued the Angels. As of a few days ago, the Angels were missing 4 of their Opening Day starters due to injuries (1B Kendry Morales-broken leg, SS Erick Aybar-meniscus damage, C Jeff Mathis-broken wrist, 3B Brandon Wood- uh… does he even count?) as well as the Angels’ most versatile position player in Maicer Izturis.

The Angels’ day-to-day lineup card has been a jigsaw puzzle in motion ever since Kendry went down on May 29th, and with Jeff Mathis out and being down a first baseman in Morales, it forced Scioscia to put players in unfamiliar spots. The prime example has to be Mike Napoli, a catcher by trade who has been playing first base for Mike Scioscia of late, and has performed admirably. That left a catching vacancy at times, paving the way for Bobby Wilson to get his shot.

Wilson, a product of Dunedin, Florida was drafted in the 48th round of the 2002 Amateur Draft by the Angels and got his first taste of the big leagues when he made his debut on April 28th, 2008, and got a hit in his first professional at-bat as a pinch-hitter (the Angels got blown out 14-2 by the Oakland A’s that day).

Playing through nearly 650 minor league games from 2003-2010, Bobby Wilson had hit at a respectable .284 clip working his way through the minor league ranks, and actually had his highest batting average in AAA ball, hitting .291 in 212 games for the Salt Lake Bees.

Through 2008 and 2009, Wilson had only registered 11 major league at-bats to his name, seeing limited duty in his time in the bigs. Jeff Mathis and Mike Napoli were platooning behind home plate, and Ryan Budde was even in the catching mix, leaving not much of a spot for Wilson.

The early part of 2010 would prove to be a different story. If in the previous 2 seasons it seemed like the Angels had no need for Bobby Wilson, this year would be a complete 180 from that statement.

The 28-year-old Wilson has played a vital role in the Angels winning 15 of the 20 games since Kendry Morales went down with a fluke season-ending leg injury.

In the 11 starts Wilson has made this season, the Angels have gone 10-1.

In his last 7 starts, the opposing team has scored more than 2 runs on the Angels only once, with the Angels having a fantastic team ERA of 2.14 during those starts. Subtracting a performance where Angel pitching allowed 6 runs to the Oakland A’s, the team ERA of those games is a ridiculous 1.50.

Wilson makes starting pitchers better, there has been no disputing that.

Outside of one poor outing by Joe Saunders (4.1 innings, 7 earned runs), starting pitchers have gone 63 innings in Bobby’s 10 other starts with a combined ERA of 2.00 in those starts. Starters have given up 14 runs in those 63 innings, 8 of those given up by Ervin Santana.

Jered Weaver has gone 14 innings in his 2 starts with Wilson behind the dish, striking out 17 batters, and allowing only 5 hits. Furthermore, Weaver is yet to have an earned run charged to his name when he’s tossing to Wilson. He outduled last year’s Cy Young runner-up Felix Hernandez in one start and Ted Lilly in his first start following a near no-hitter of the White Sox in the other.

Scott Kazmir has worked with Bobby on three occasions, going 17 innings and giving up 4 runs in that span. Kazmir won each of those 3 starts, with an ERA of 2.11 in those outings. In all of his other outings this year, Kazmir has gone 4-5 with a fat ERA of 6.03.

Joel Pineiro put forth one of his better efforts of the year in his one start with Bobby Wilson, throwing 8 innings of 3-hit, 1-run ball. Pineiro held down a Milwaukee Brewers offense who exploded for 19 runs against the Angels in the previous two games, and also currently have the 2nd most home runs (82) and are only 15 runs back of first place for most runs scored as a team in the National League.

Whatever Bobby’s been doing, it’s been working.

Even though he’s taken his lumps at the plate (.189 batting average this year) and blocking the plate (check out the video below in case you haven’t seen it), Bobby has brought the most important statistic to the Angels: wins.

(On a side note, this was probably the roughest home-plate collision baseball had seen since ex-Angel Darin Erstad slammed into Johnny Estrada back in 2005.)

So next time you want to see how Bobby Wilson did in his most recent game, don’t look for his name in the box score.

If you look for his name you might find an “0-for-3” or “0-for-4 with a strikeout” performance. That’s not what Bobby Wilson brings.

Instead, look at how the starting pitcher did. Did he get the win? How many innings did he go? How many runs did he allow? How many hits did he allow?

That’s where you’ll find the true value of Bobby Wilson.

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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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4/21-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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4/10-Angels Honor Adenhart’s Memory With 6-3 Win Over Red Sox

jered weaverOnly one day removed from the shocking and tragic death of 22-year-old pitcher Nick Adenhart, the Angels thought the best way they could honor his memory would be a victory over the visiting Boston Red Sox. And that’s exactly what they’d do Friday night.

Before the game, both teams and all fans in attendance observed a moment of silence for the deaths of Adenhart and two others who were in the same car as him Thursday morning. John Lackey and Torii Hunter held up Adenhart’s #34 jersey on the mound for the moment of silence.

Also before the start of the game, today’s starter Jered Weaver went out to the center field wall, where they now have an image of Nick Adenhart printed as well as his #34. He stood there for a brief moment, tapped the wall and headed back to the dugout. Torii Hunter ran out in the top of the 1st inning and also spent a brief moment in front of Adenhart’s image, and then the game got underway.

Jered Weaver put forth a brilliant performance for the Halos, going 6 2/3 innings, surrending 1 unearned run, striking out 8 batters and scattering 4 hits. When Weaver was taken out in the 7th inning with 2 outs, as he walked back to the dugout, he tipped his hat to the crowd, and pointed to the sky, as if to tell the fallen Angel, “This one’s for you, Nick.” Weaver and Adenhart planned on being roommates, with Adenhart scheduled to move in with Jered on Sunday. I bet his buddy would be awfully proud of his performance on the mound tonight.

The Angels would jump on top first, scoring 3 runs in the 2nd inning, and would tack on another 3 in the 7th, for their 2nd win of the year, moving to 2-2 overall.

Scoring Recap

2nd inning- With 1 out, Chone Figgins had Jeff Mathis on 2nd base and Maicer Izturis on 1st. Figgy would rip a Tim Wakefield knuckler into left center for his first double and RBI of the season, scoring Mathis and advancing Maicer to 3rd. Halos lead it 1-0.

Howie Kendrick would follow up Figgins’ knock with a 2-run single of his own, scoring Izturis and Figgins, putting the Angels up 3-0 early.

3rd inning- Jacoby Ellsbury stole 2nd base and took 3rd on a throwing error by catcher Jeff Mathis, setting up a David Ortiz sacrifice fly to score Ellsbury for Boston’s first run of the game. Halos are still up, with the score now being 3-1.

7th inning- Bobby Abreu would start the inning with a single, would swipe second base and advance to third on a sac fly by the Big Daddy Vlad Guerrero. Abreu would score on a sac fly to center field by Torii Hunter. The Halo lead is back to 3, the score being 4-1.

Still with 1 out and the Halos threatening with the bases loaded, Jeff Mathis would come up for the game’s most crucial at-bat in my opinion. On a 3-2 count, Mathis would lace a single by shortstop Jed Lowrie and in to left field, scoring Vlad Guerrero from 3rd and Kendry Morales from 2nd base, giving the Angels a 5-run cushion by the score of 6-1.

8th inning- Kevin Youkilis would chop one to 3rd base, reaching first base safely on the play, scoring Jacoby Ellsbury, but an error by Angels 3rd baseman Chone Figgins would also allow last year’s AL MVP Dustin Pedroia to come around and score as well. This would be the last time either team would score, making the final score 6-3 in favor of the Halos.

Player-by-Player Recap

1- 3B Chone Figgins – 1-4, 1 RBI, 1 2B, 1 R, 1 K, 1 BB, 1 SB, 2 LOB

Figgy had his first extra base hit and RBI all in one swing of the bat, which gave the Angels their first run of the game, and as I could imagine, was a huge confidence booster in that dugout. With a lot on the Angels players’ minds, Figgins got the Angels off and running and set the tone early for the team.

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

Kendrick’s one hit of the game was a difference maker, following up Figgy’s 2nd inning double to put the Angels up 3 early. Turned a double play in the 9th to guide the Angels to the win, and has played pretty good defense for the most part this season.

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

That a boy, Bobby! The first 3-hit game of the year for the Angels was delivered by first-year Halo Bobby Abreu, and he even stole 2 bags (even though it was against a pitcher who throws 69-70 mph max). That’s exactly what GM Tony Reagins and company had in mind when they inked Abreu to a 1-year deal this offseason. He has a hit in each game, and his plate discipline has been a great addition to the Halo lineup.

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

2 knocks for the Big Daddy tonight, and he’s still in that DH role because of a strained pectoral muscle that he says won’t allow him to throw comfortably. But hey, he can still hit, just as he’s done his whole career. No RBI tonight for Vlad, but still batted .500 in the game, and any game you can do that it is no doubt a success.

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

Only 1 credited at-bat tonight, but he also drew a walk and drove in his first run of the season via a sacrifice fly. He continues to play the stellar defense that all MLB fans are accustomed to seeing out of him, and from what I saw yesterday from Torii, he shows more and more why he is worth every penny of the contract he was issued 2 offseasons ago. He addressed the media on the passing of Nick Adenhart in a solemn, graceful manner and continues to show why he is such a valuable clubhouse figure.

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

KMo stranded 6 Halos on base in his 4 AB’s tonight, but his double back in the 7th inning would ultimately set up a Jeff Mathis 2-run double to put away the game for good. So although the 1-4 may not stick out to you, his contribution to the ultimate game-clincher on the part of Jeff Mathis was crucial.

7- RF Gary Matthews Jr. – 0-2, 0 RBI, 0 R, 1 K, 2 BB, 3 LOB

Oh lord, we have a Gary Matthews Jr. sighting 4 games into the season. GMJ stepped in for Juan Rivera in the outfield today as Rivera had been given a day off by manager Mike Scioscia. I’ll give him credit, he actually got on base twice on walks (even though one was an intentional walk). I’m just hoping that Juanito gets back into the lineup tomorrow, because GMJ didn’t do much else. 5 years and 50 million for this? Buyers remorse for the Angels front office for another 3 years! Yay!

8- C Jeff Mathis – 2-4, 2 RBI, 1 R, 0 K, 0 BB, 3 LOB

I’m getting more and more encouraged by Jeff Mathis’s offensive production by the day. He came up with an incredibly timely hit in the 7th. Even though he had his first error of the season today, he continued to call a great game, and has allowed 7 runs in his 3 full games this season. The Angels are just better off with Mathis over Napoli behind the dish, and if that means sacrificing some power numbers for inserting Mathis in for more than a platooning role, I’m all for it.

9- SS Maicer Izturis – 0-4, 0 RBI, 1 R, 0 K, 0 BB, 4 LOB

Mighty Maicer got his first start of the season, and didn’t do too much with it. Maicer is a guy who can play great defense at shortstop as well as 3rd base and was arguably the Angels’ most clutch hitter in the 2008 season. It seems like the Aybar/Izturis situation at shortstop is quickly becoming the Mathis/Napoli situation of last year. Aybar has more range on defense, but Izturis makes less errors. Aybar is a streaky, slap-hitting table-setter, whereas Maicer isn’t as fast but is much more consistent with the bat. Mike Scioscia’s got a tough decision on his hands.

Tonight’s MVP

Mike Scioscia

What a blessing this man has been to the Angels’ organization ever since he arrived in 2000. Mike is the epitome of a calm, cool and collected individual, and has really set the tone for the Angels’ clubhouse. He has transformed the team into a family, and not many managers can say that. He handled Nick Adenhart’s passing with such grace and compassion, and I respect Mike Scioscia so much for how balanced he always seems to be, through both good and bad. From all Halo fans, thanks for everything Mike, it’s times like these that show why this Angel front office wants you around as the team’s skipper for the next 10 years.

Halo of the Game Review and Pick

4/10 Halo of the Game Pick: Chone Figgins

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

Chone had his first 2-bagger and RBI of the year today, and collected his 3rd stolen bag as well. Picked up his first error, but thankfully for the Halos, it wouldn’t cost them later on. Chone continues the hit streak!

Current Halo of the Game Hit Streak: 4

Halo of the Game Season Hitting Statistics:

.313 avg. (5-16), 1 HR, 3 RBI, 3 R, 1 2B, 0 3B, 3 K, 2 BB, 1 SB

Tomorrow’s Halo of the Game Pick: Kendry Morales

Tomorrow’s Probables

Red Sox: Brad Penny. Making his first start for the Sox on the year after being a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers for the past 5 seasons. Penny had two 16-win seasons with the Blue Crew, and his acquisition gave the Red Sox an even deeper rotation that last year’s.

Angels: Joe Saunders. Went 6 2/3 innings as the Opening Day starter against the A’s, giving up 0 runs. The lefty went 17-7 last year en route to an All-Star bid, and picked up where he left off on Opening Day. He will be the ace for the Halos’ staff for at least the first month of the season, and if he can pitch anywhere near the way he pitched in the Angels’ opener, he’s a guy Halo fans can feel comfortable with as their #1. Different reports are also saying that Shane Loux could be the scheduled starter for tomorrow, which would be the 29-year-old righty’s first big league start since 2003.

Tomorrow’s game against the Red Sox is scheduled for 1:10 Pacific time.

Go Halos!

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