Friday, April 24, 2009

Up is Down, Black is White, and the Angels Bullpen Pitched Three Scoreless Innings

Signs of life from the Angels last night, especially from the bullpen. They managed to take the rubber match in the best of three series thanks to a solid effort from career minor-leaguer Matt Palmer, three innings of scoreless relief, clutch offensive performances, and four Tigers errors.

Palmer struggled early, allowing single runs in the first two innings before settling down in the third, fourth, fifth, and sixth. He struggled in the seventh, leaving the bases loaded. Daniel Davidson and Jason Bulger allowed the inherited runners to score, but Bulger got a key double play grounder to Chone Figgins to end the threat. Bulger followed that with a perfect eight, and Justin Speier pitched a perfect night to preserve the win.

At the plate, Howie Kendrick finally hit his first double of the season in the first inning. It took two bases loaded walks in the fourth inning for the Angels to tie the game. Torii Hunter his sixth homer of the season in the fifth to give the Angels their first lead. They added three more runs in the sixth, and four in the seventh, two coming home on Chone Figgins’ bases loaded, two out bunt single, which blew the game open. Bobby Abreu, Torii Hunter, Maicer Izturis, Kendry Morales, and Garry Matthews each had two hits.

With Seattle’s victory, the 6-9 Angels remain 3.5 games out of first, tied with Texas and a half game in front of Oakland.

Thoughts on the game:

  • You kind of had to see it to believe it, but the Angels scored ten runs last night, only three of which were produced on balls that left the infield. Hunter homered, and Abreu and Izturis had RBI singles to the outfield. But two runs came home on bases loaded walks, three on infield singles, and two on Figgins’ bunt single (one of which was attributed to an error on the play).
  • Bobby Abreu stole his eighth base, which leads the league. He also beat out an infield hit, which scored a run. He doesn’t look fast, but he is really running well. Now he just needs to deliver some extra base hits.
  • Justin Speier is looking downright serviceable. He’s appeared in five games and only given up single runs in two of them. In 5.2 innings, he’s allowed only five baserunners, and struck out six. Right now, he’s their best reliever.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Yet Another Bullpen Implosion: Tigers 12; Angels 10

It’s starting to sound like a broken record, but once again, the Angels relievers were handed a lead, and once again, they imploded, allowing seven runs over the final four innings, turning a 7-5 lead into a 12-10 defeat.

Joe Saunders was not sharp, allowing five runs over his five innings, but Kendry Morales and the Angels offense delivered him seven runs. Justin Speier allowed a run in the sixth, but the Angels matched that and handed a two run lead to Scot Shields, who claimed earlier in the week that a adjustment to his mechanics had solved the problems he faced earlier in the season.

Time for another adjustment. He faced four batters and allowed all four to reach, two via the single, and two via the walk, one of which drove in a run. Jose Arredondo allowed the three runners he inherited to score, thanks in no small part to a miscue by short stop Erick Aybar.

Brandon Wood sat for the second straight game since his call up, but the Angels offense didn’t need him. Kendry Morales homered and doubled, driving in five of the Angels ten runs. Torii Hunter and Maicer Izturis each delivered three hits. Juan Rivera and Gary Matthews each picked up two hits. On the evening, the Angels knocked Tigers pitching around for 16 hits, but for the second time in a week, an enormous offensive outburst couldn’t make up for shoddy pitching.

Thoughts on the game:

  • Brandon Wood’s call up has so far defied all logic. He’s the Angels top offensive prospect, and he’s now played seven games in the last 13 days. One would think that after missing time to attend funerals, the Angels would want him in the lineup every day. Calling him up just to have him sit makes no sense.
  • For the last few years, the Angels bullpen has been a significant advantage, practically reducing games to seven innings for opponents. This year, not only is the advantage gone, they’re giving opponents a head start. They need to take at least a three run lead into the seventh inning or they’re in trouble.
  • Crazy to think, but this team would actually be a couple games worse without Torii Hunter. Fortunately, everyone else in the AL West keeps losing.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Angels lose again

We’re 12 games in and it’s already getting difficult to find things to write about the Angels. For a change, the pitching was actually adequate. Shane Loux lasted seven innings, allowing 3 runs on 10 hits, while not allowing a walk. He was not helped out by his defense. No one was charged with an error, but numerous plays went left unmade, at least one which led to a run. Loux allowed single runs in the second, fifth, and seventh innings, all of the manufactured varierty.

Their failures were overshadowed by the bullpen yesterday, but the offense was responsible for today’s loss. They were completely dominated by Glen Perkins for eight innings. He allowed one run on four hits, and needed only 84 pitches in his eight innings. That’s three pitches per batter faced. So much for all of the talk about how the Angels preached plate discpline this spring.

Thoughts on the game:

  • Bobby Abreu had two of the Angels’ four hits, and one of their two walks. He and Torii Hunter remain the only Angels providing anything remotely close to what can be called production.
  • Daniel Davidson debuted, and allowed one walk in an otherwise uneventful eighth inning. That automatically makes him the Angels’ best relief pitcher.
  • The Angels get a much needed off day to regroup. They have to start turning it around now.