Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Angels 7; Royals 5

We need to keep this one in perspective. Despite starting his season with two solid starts, Bart has basically started three games in the last year. He's not going to be in mid-season form. And that was the case tonight, as he blew a five run lead, and would have if his offense hadn't picked him up in the fourth inning. But he battled on a night where he really didn't have it, got through five innings, and turned the ball over to a suddenly effective bullpen to hold the lead.

It looked to me like Bart was getting squeezed a bit in the second inning, and then again in the third when he walked Pena. As a result, he threw some pitches that got too much of the plate as he was just trying to throw strikes. These may the Royals, but they're still professionals, and they have some excellent young hitters. They made Bart pay, the long ball coming off the bat of Mark Teahen to pull the Royals to within one.

Bart had the big lead because the offense was stout early. After three straight singles to start the game, Zach Greinke got behind Vlad 3-1, and Vlad took it out on him by hitting the next pitch about 460 feet for a grand slam and four run lead. They added another in the second on a Matthews triple and Cabrera double. A Kotchman sac fly in the 4th pushed the lead to two, which was promptly cut back to one in the bottom of the 4th, before a Reggie Willits RBI single in the 8th provided the winning margin.

The Angels pounded out 13 hits: Two each for Aybar and Cabrera, three for Willits, and four for HGHMJ. It's not easy to figure out who the best young player has been to this point. Willits is seemingly always on base, now hitting .382 while getting on base at a .447 clip. Honestly, other than deference to the veteran, I don't know how you put Garret Anderson back in the lineup unless you make him DH and put Hillenbrand on the bench.

Then there's Erick Aybar. Forget the two stupid caught stealings in the first two weeks. He's now hitting .320, while playing outstanding defense at second base. He's clearly bench bound upon the return of Kendrick, but if I were Orlando Cabrera, I might be polishing my resume. They're going to need to have this kind in the infield every day in the next year or two. Yeah, I know he's not slugging, but he'll hit for just as much pop as Cabrera, with a better average, comparable defense, for about $7MM less.

And if you thought those were the only two fighting it out, you've clearly forgotten about Dustin Moseley. He bridged the 6th and 7th innings tonight, turning the ball over the Scot Shakyields. All he's done is toss 17.1 innings, allowing less than a base runner per inning, with an ERA barely over one. He doesn't strike a lot of guys out, but he doesn't walk many either, and he's keeping the ball in the yard this season. Oh, and opposing hitters are hitting only .186 against him. He and Joe Saunders are making Ervin Santana look very tradeable. I hear there's a team in a big market on the East Coast that's really struggling on the mound right now.

Same time and teams tomorrow night, with the aforementioned Ervin taking on Jorge De La Rosa. Can Ervin get it done on the road? We'll see.

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