Tag Archives: winning streak

Juan Fire!

Dodgers Angels BaseballThe Angels are on fire.

Now 7 wins in a row for the Halos, 7th Heaven if you will.

And there unarguably has not been one hotter Halo hitter than Juan Rivera during this stretch.

Over the Angels’ current 7-game winning streak, Juan has gone 11-29 (.380) with 4 home runs, 2 doubles, and 9 RBI.

Juan has been instant offense over the past 18 games, hitting at that same .380 mark (27-71 overall) with 6 homers, 8 doubles, and 20 RBI. Rivera has an RBI in 15 of his last 18 games he’s appeared in and also has recorded 9 games of 2 or more hits during those 18 contests.

Today’s game against the Dodgers where he blasted a tie-busting solo home run marked the 2nd straight contest where a ball off his bat helped score the go-ahead and eventual game-deciding run.

Juan’s the type of home run hitter who will hit home runs in bunches of games, which is frequently followed by a long power outage of sorts until his next blast. But no doubt, his power is surging at this point of the season.

His average is now up to .316 on the season, the 3rd best mark on the team behind leadoff man Chone Figgins (.324) and the Halos’ Superman of the 1st half in Torii Hunter (.321). He’s also tied with Kendry Morales for 2nd on the Halos for home runs with 10.

Juan has been thriving in his starting role this season, but things have not always been so sweet during his season-by-season rollercoaster tenure in Anaheim.

Juan Rivera came over to the Angels along with current 2nd baseman Maicer Izturis in a deal that sent outfielder Jose Guillen from the Angels to the then-Montreal Expos back in November of 2004.

He would appear in 106 games in his first year as an Angel in 2005, hitting .271 with 15 home runs and 59 RBI on the season.

’06 would be a career year for Juan, where in 124 games, he would post career highs in batting average (.310), hits (139), runs scored (65), doubles (27), home runs (23), and runs batted in (85). Rivera would be an impressive mainstay in Scioscia’s lineup that year, and made the Angels look like geniuses for trading away Jose Guillen after his most impressive offensive year in 2004.

However, toward the end of 2006, his fortunes would change.

While playing Winter League ball in Venezuela, he would need a rod and screws inserted into his tibia bone after he broke his leg in a game.

His prolonged absence prompted the Angels to bring in a new outfielder, lassoing in center fielder Gary Matthews Jr. from the Texas Rangers, who made the All-Star team the year before.

He would only appear in 14 games that year, mustering up 12 hits in 43 at-bats with 2 long-balls and 8 RBI.

His return to an everyday role in the outfield and lineup would take another turn for the worst (for him at least), as the Angels shocked the baseball world by bringing in another center fielder in Torii Hunter, who had spent his whole career in Minnesota prior to the signing.

2008 marked a year where the Angels had an absolute logjam in the outfield with guys like Hunter, Matthews, Vladimir Guerrero, left field mainstay Garret Anderson, and even Reggie Willits who was coming off of a great 2007 rookie year. That put Juan as outfielder #5/maybe even #6 on the depth chart, meaning that in a matter of just about 12 months, he had gone from being an everyday player to even lesser of a situational player. And trust me, it’s not easy for a productive player like him to swallow a situation like that.

But he took it all in stride during the ’08 campaign, getting situational starts in the outfield or DH duty from time to time, appearing in 89 games altogether, his lowest total in the past 4 full years he was able to play. He’d hit at a disappointing career-low .246 mark on the season, while tallying 12 home runs and driving in 45 runs.

I give Juan a lot of credit because he could have gone off and been a baby like Jose Guillen and thrown a tantrum about his playing time, but he didn’t. He stayed within himself and knew that Mike Scioscia and the Angels would give him his chance to be back as an everyday player for the ball club. He took it all in stride like a true professional while trying to make the most out of each opportunity that he was given, knowing that if he continued to work at the level that he had been working at, all while keeping a level head, a bigger and better opportunity would come his way.

2009 would be that opportunity.

Gary Matthews Jr. struggled mightily with the bat in 2008 which carried into Spring Training.

Garret Anderson, who had spent his whole 15-year MLB career in Anaheim with the Angels (he was a member of the Angels when they were referred to as the California Angels, Anaheim Angels and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, so you know he’d been a Halo for quite some time), was not picked up and ended up signing with the Atlanta Braves.

The door opened up for him, and he made sure he seized the opportunity.

Juan landed the Opening Day role for the Halos in 2009, and has been a productive and consistent hitter for the Angels all year long.

It’s been a long time coming since that career year of 2006, but he’s on pace to surpass those numbers as he tries to guide the Halos back in to 1st place in the American League West division and hopefully capture 1 of the 4 available playoff spots in the American League.

After Friday night’s game-deciding solo blast, the fans were in a frenzy, begging Juan to take the curtain call for his late-game heroics.

But I can imagine that at that moment, it was much more than one home run in one brief moment to him. It was years of hard work and sacrifice, mixed in with his fair share of flourishing moments and hardships; going from a nearly indispensable player one year to an almost forgotten player the next.

And as he went to make his way up those steps, I sure hope he felt that he earned the right to bask in that brief moment of glory.

Take your curtain call, Juan, you’ve earned it.

Leave a comment

Filed under Angel Stories, June Game Recaps

4/29-Hunter and Morales’ Homers Give Angels 2-Game Sweep of O’s

morales hunterThe Angels kicked off an 8-game road trip on the right foot after completing a 2-game sweep of the Baltimore Orioles, with a 3-2 win today.

Shane Loux (1-2) would get his first major league win since the 2003 season after giving up 1 run on 5 hits in 6 innings pitched, striking out 3.

The bullpen would give up only 1 run in 3 innings of work today, with Brian Fuentes notching his 5th save in 6 opportunities.

For the Orioles, Koji Uehara (2-2) would receive the loss after going 6 1/3 innings, giving up 3 runs on 7 hits and striking out 5 Halo batters.

Torii Hunter and Kendry Morales would hit back-to-back taters in the 7th inning, with the 2nd blast giving the Halos a 3-1 lead, and that 3rd run would be all the run support needed for the win.

The Halos are now on a 3-game winning streak, pushing their record to 9-11 and the Orioles drop to 9-13 after starting the season at 6-3.

Game Notes

Shane Loux gave the Angels his strongest start of the season after throwing 6 innings of 1-run ball. Loux only went 4 innings in his last outing against the Mariners after giving up 7 runs on 11 hits but really settled down and gave the Angels a great effort today to complete a 2-game road sweep of the O’s.

The hot hitting continues, notching another game of 10 or more hits today (10 on the game). Torii Hunter, Kendry Morales and Jeff Mathis would each have 2 hits on the game.

Torii Hunter and Kendry Morales would hit crucial back-to-back solo home runs in the 7th inning to have the Angels go from tied at 1 apiece to ahead by a score of 3-1. Hunter hit his team-leading 8th home run of the season today (April 29th), when he didn’t hit his 8th home run last season until June 9th, and Morales’ jack was his 3rd round-tripper on the season. KMo went 4-for-8 with 2 doubles, 1 triple and 1 home run in the 2-game series, posting 4 RBI and upping his season average to .288.

The bullpen would nail it down, but it wouldn’t come without a shaky start to the 8th inning with Jose Arredondo. Justin Speier struck out 2 Orioles in a 1-2-3 7th inning, but Arredondo led off the 8th by giving up an infield single to Adam Jones, and then allowed him to take 2nd base on a wild pitch. Nick Markakis would knock in the speedy Jones on a single to right, cutting the Halo lead to 3-2. Arredondo would then gather himself, strike out Aubrey Huff to make it one out, Jeff Mathis would throw out Nick Markakis trying to steal 2nd base for the 2nd out, and then Luke Scott would strike out looking to end the inning.

Brian Fuentes would come in for a save opportunity in the 9th, and would retire all 3 Oriole batters to give the Angels a 3-2 win.

An Oriole note, Nick Markakis pushed his hitting streak to 16 games today, the longest currently in the MLB.

Halo of the Game Review and Pick

4/29 Halo of the Game Pick: Kendry Morales

Stat Line: 2-4, 2 RBI, 1 R, 1 3B, 1 HR, 1 K, 0 BB, 0 LOB

Morales had an RBI triple to deep center in the 4th inning to tie up the game at 1-1, but his solo homer to straightaway center field would give the Angels a much needed 3rd run as insurance. Morales has been on fire in the past week, with 2 home runs, 9 RBI, and a .321 average in that span. He’s been seeing the ball better and really putting good wood on it just like he did all throughout Spring Training.

Current Halo of the Game Hit Streak: 6 (season-long: 8 games)

Halo of the Game Season Hitting Statistics:

17 G-.365 avg. (23-63), 3 HR, 11 RBI, 13 R, 5 2B, 1 3B, 10 K, 10 BB, 5 SB

Tomorrow’s Halo of the Game Pick: Torii Hunter

The Angels now head to New York for a 4-game set with the Yankees.

Tomorrow’s game at New York against the Yankees is scheduled for 4:05 Pacific Time (7:05 Eastern).

Anthony Ortega or Matt Palmer will be the starter for the Halos, as Palmer was initially scheduled to be the starter today in Baltimore, and AJ Burnett will take the hill for the Bronx Bombers.

Go Halos!

Leave a comment

Filed under April Game Recaps