Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Angels 6; Tigers 3

Last year the Angels gave up 80 unearned runs. Only the Cleveland Indians allowed more. And despite the offensive woes, I've maintained that it was the main reason that the Angels failed to win the AL West. Part of that was also a function of some bad luck. It seemed every time they made a mistake, they paid for it.

This year, their team ERA is the best in the AL. In addition they've cut their unearned run percentage by over 30% (from .49 to .33), which is a sign that a) their defense has played better, and b) mistakes haven't translated into a lot of runs. And at no time have they played better defense than they did last night.

HGHMJ made two terrific catches in center field, one which save at least two runs early in the game. In addition, Chone Figgins and Robb Quinlan each saved extra bases, and Orlando Cabrera ended the night with his spear of a Carlos Guillen liner that would have put the tying run in scoring position, and the winning run on base.

For Figgins, Cabrera, and Quinlan, it wasn't all defense. Figgins went 2-4 and scored both times he reached base, Quinlan took Mike Maroth deep in the sixth inning to provide the Angels final run of the game, and Cabrera added a two run shot of his own. Mike Napoli has pushed his average all the way up over the .250 mark, collecting two hits last night, including a fourth inning homer.

The only struggles came from John Lackey, who had trouble finding the strike zone until he really needed to, walking four against only three strike outs. But he held the Tigers to one run through five innings, and turned the ball over to Dustin Moseley, who continued to impress with two scoreless innings. Even Darren Oliver looked sharp until the ninth inning, at which point he remembered he was Darren Oliver and loaded the bases with nobody out, at which point the Angels required the services of Frankie Rodriguez.

Good start to the trip. Win one more in Detroit, and they can head to New York with their eyes on another solid road trip. As an added bonus, Homerin' Howie Kendrick rejoins the lineup tonight to take over for a slumping Erick Aybar.

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