Thursday, May 21, 2009

Jakubauskas'd: Angels 0; Mariners 1

Ervin Santana showed the form that he brought to the mound for most of last season, but Chris Jakubauskas showed the form of Bob Gibson circa 1968. Santana’s 6.2 innings of five hit baseball weren’t enough to overcome Jakubauskus’ six shutout innings, during which he allowed only two hits and two walks. Jakubauskas earned his third win of the season in the process.

The Mariners provided the game’s only offense in the first inning. Ichiro Suzuki led off the game with a double to right center field. Two batters later, Ken Griffey drove him home with a base hit to right, and with that, the Mariners put the only run of the night on the board.

The Angels’ most dangerous threat came in the top of the fourth inning. After Jakubauskas retired the Angels’ first two hitters, Torii Hunter doubled to left. Kendry Morales and Gary Matthews Jr. followed with walks to load the bases, but Howie Kendrick, swung at the first pitch and flied out to right field to end the inning.

The Mariners got three excellent innings of bullpen work from Miguel Batista, Mark Lowe, and David Aardsma to close out the game. The trio combined to allow only two baserunners.

Thoughts on the game:
  • Kendrick followed his two steps forward with a big step back. He was hitless in three at bats, and left four runners on base. As mentioned above, in the fourth inning, he came to the plate with the bases loaded, following two walks. Logic says you make the pitcher throw a strike, or even two, before taking an aggressive cut. But Kendrick offered at the first pitch he saw, and the Angels never threatened again. People are asking what the Angels will have to do with either Erick Aybar or Chone Figgins to make room for Brandon Wood, but the answer just may be “move one of them to second base”.
  • The Angels bullpen, which entered the game as the worst in the American League, has now worked eight and a third consecutive scoreless innings. If they can bring their 5.91 ERA down by a run and a half by the end of the season, the Angels will win the division. It’s been their biggest hindrance to this point, and right now they aren’t ham and egging it very well, but with the starting rotation back in decent shape, if the bullpen gets going, their mediocre offense should be just barely good enough.
  • Then again, the Angels were swept for the second time this season, and the second time in four games. Mediocre may be an optimistic assessment of the offense. Still, when everyone is back and healthy, they strike me a team that can win eight straight, and 14 of 15 at some point this season.

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