Thursday, June 04, 2009

Angels 6; Jays 5

For the second straight night, the Angels got off to a quick start. John Lackey, trying to get back on track after some rocky outings, found a groove, lasting seven innings while allowing only two runs on seven hits. He threw 114 pitches, 69 for strikes, showing that he's apparently regaining his stamina.

The offense took advantage of Brian Tallet's shakiness in the first inning. Chone Figgins led off the game with a walk. He advanced to second on Erick Aybar's ground out, avoiding the double play by running on the pitch. Vladimir Guerrero singled him home. After Vlad stole second, it was Torii Hunter's turn to drive in the run. Another stolen base from Hunter and a Juan Rivera RBI double later, the Angels led 3-0. They pushed the lead to 4-0 when Chone Figgins singled home Robb Quinlan in the fourth inning. After the Jays pulled to within three, Mike Napoli's solo shot put the Angels back up by four.

Things got dicey in the eighth inning. Darren Oliver entered the game to start the eighth and allowed three straight hits. Justin Speier relieved him and allowed the first two hitters he faced to reach base before retiring the side. When the dust settled, the Jays had tied the game at 5-5. But the Angels fought back in the top of the ninth. Howie Kendrick bunted his way to first base to lead off the inning, and advanced to third on Chone Figgins' single. Erick Aybar grounded into a double play, scoring Kendrick for a 6-5 lead. Brian Fuentes struck out the side in the ninth, but not before allowing the go ahead run to reach first base.

Thoughts on the game:

  • Chone Figgins was on base three more times, pushing his OBP to .385. Hopefully for Figgins, former Angels bench coach Joe Maddon is taking notice. He may be an all-star this year.
  • Howie Kendrick is still struggling, but his bunt single probably saved this game for the Angels.
  • Two straight quality starts for Angels pitchers. If they can get Ervin Santana straightened out, and if Kelvim Escobar returns strong, this could be the start of a good run.

Weaver Dominant Again: Angels 8; Jays 1

After a seemingly endless week of falling behind early and virtually losing games before they started, the Angels turned the tables on Wednesday night, getting off to a fast start and giving Jered Weaver plenty of run support on the way to his fifth win of the season. Chone Figgins opened the game with a single, and before Blue Jays starter Casey Janssen knew what had hit him, Bobby Abreu drove a pitch over the center field wall, giving the Angels a 2-0 lead.

It turned out those two runs were all they needed, though they would add six more. Jered Weaver was dominant in one of his best performances as a professional. He struck out a career high 10 hitters. He carried a no-hitter into the fifth inning before Adam Lind and Lyle Overbay combined for two doubles and the Blue Jays' only run. Weaver lasted seven innings, allowing only three hits and two walks. He lowered his ERA to 2.26, second in the AL only to Zach Greinke's otherwordly 1.10. 72 of his 107 pitches went for strikes. Weaver appears to be in line to become the Angels' fourth starting pitcher to be selected to the All-Star game in the last three seasons.

The offensive explosion was unncessary, but still enjoyable. Figgins added two doubles to his first inning single, pushing hit batting average over .300. Bobby Abreu homered, doubled, and drove in four runs. Vladimir Guerrero, Maicer Izturis, and Erick Aybar each recorded two hits, as the Angels finished the game with 13, seven of which went for extra bases.

Thoughts on the game:

  • Blame it on the contract year, but Chone Figgins has been an ideal lead off man this year. He's getting on base at a .380 clip, and has stolen 20 bases, while only being thrown out four times. He saw more pitches (23) than any other Angel last night, which is what a lead off hitter is supposed to do. With Bobby Abreu's .390 OBP and 15 stolen bases in 15 tries, the Angels' offensive woes don't start at the top.
  • Jered Weaver is finally fulfilling the promise he showed in his first string of starts, and he couldn't be doing it at a more important time. With Lackey and Santana struggling, and Saunders running hot and cold, Weaver has been the Angels' ace. He's doing everything a pitcher with his velocity needs to do. He's commanding the strike zone, he's throwing everything in his arsenal for strikes, and he's keeping hitters off balance. Best of all, he's fun to watch.
  • Two solid innings in relief from Jason Bulger and Jose Arredondo last night. Still looking for signs of life from the bullpen. This may be a mirage, but it's nice to see for one night. On April 25th, Bulger had an ERA of 12.86. Since that date he's allowed only one earned run and 13 baserunners in 15.1 innings, lowering his ERA to 4.43. He's struck out 13 in that stretch. If this is for real, he may be pitching eighth innings a lot from here on out.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Well, this sucks

I'm sure nobody who reads this site cares about this, except me, but Aleksandra Campesinos! is leaving Los Campesinos! She's the redheaded vocalist in the video. I can't say enough about how fun these guys are to listen to and to see in concert. I'm sad to see her go.