Friday, June 26, 2009

Michael Jackson's Dead

Guess that means we can all look forward to the Dandy Warhols' cover of Blackbird.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Undreaded: Angels 11; Rockies 3

The Angels used offensive outbursts in the first and second innings to jump out to a 6-0 lead and never looked back as they took two of three from the Rockies, who came into Anaheim red hot. Joe Saunders made sure the Rockies never got back into the came, picking up his eighth win in the process, and keeping the Angels in a first place tie with the Texas Rangers.

The Angels scored three times with two outs in the first inning. Following Torii Hunter's double play ball, the next four Angels reached base. Vlad drove in a run with a double off the wall in left center, and after a Juan Rivera walk, Kendry Morales and Maicer Izturis delivered RBI singles.

Vlad struck again in the second inning with a two out, two run home run over the wall in left center field, only his second homer of the season, and the first since shaving his dreadlocks.

The Angels added two more runs in the fourth, and one in the sixth to push the lead to 9-0 before the Rockies finally got on the board. Bobby Abreu closed out the scoring for the Angels with a two run homer in the eighth inning, his fourth of the season.

Joe Saunders worked 6+ innings, and allowed one run on four hits while striking out six. He left the game in seventh inning after allowing a home run to Garret Atkins and a single to Brad Hawpe. He pushed his record to 8-4, and lowere his ERA to 3.66, a little behind last year's pace, but solid nonetheless. Justin Speier struck out the side in the seventh, and after Rafael Rodriguez allowed to runs in the eighth, Darren Oliver worked a perfect ninth to close it out.

Thoughts on the game:

  • It may be a momentary blip, but if Vlad is finding his bat speed, it will be huge for the Angels. His power bat could work as the mid-season acquisition the Angels need.
  • Chone Figgins had three more hits. His current line, 330/405/422, is all-star worthy. And while Ichiro could play center field, Figgins' production while playing an excellent third base rivals what the Mariners are getting from Ichiro in right field.
  • One more note on Figgins. He's also on pace for a career high in walks. Can you tell it's a contract year?

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

First Place: Angels 4; Rockies 3

After all the Angels have been through this year, it's hard to believe that they're in first place, but after handing the Rockies on their second loss in the last 19 games, the Angels have caught the Rangers atop the AL West.

Sean O'Sullivan provided his second solid start of the season. He allowed three runs on six hits in five innings. Troy Tulowitzki proved to be O'Sullivan's undoing. Tulowitzki walked in his first appearance. In the fourth inning, O'Sullivan threw his first pitch behind Tulowitzki. A few pitches later, Tulowitzki got his revenge by blasting a fastball over the wall in left field. Three innings later, Tulowitzki wasn't done. With Brad Hawpe on first, Tulowitzki drove a fastball at the top of the strike zone off the foul pole in left field, giving the Rockies a 3-2 lead.

The Angels offense did just enough to win the game, though they squandered a few opportunities. In the third inning, after Jeff Mathis and Maicer Izturis had reached base, Erick Aybar failed to get the sacrifice bunt down, hanging Izturis out to dry at third base. Chone Figgins followed with an RBI single, but was thrown out trying to take second base.

After the Rockies tied the game on Tulowitzki's first home run, Juan Rivera delivered one of his own, his 11th of the season, giving the Angels a 2-1 lead.

In the eigth inning, with starter Ubaldo Jiminez still in the game, the Angels fought back from a 3-2 deficit despite only hitting one ball out of the infield. Jeff Mathis walked to lead off the inning. Erick Aybar's sacrifice bunt was double clutched by Ian Stewart, allowing Aybar to reach safely. Chone Figgins' sac bunt attempt should have led to an out at third, but Stewart couldn't find the bag after taking the throw from Jiminez, and the Angels loaded the bases. Bobby Abreu delivered a two run single in the next at bat, giving the Angels a 4-3 lead.

Brian Fuentes, working against his former team, hit Chris Iannetta to lead off the inning. But after Ryan Spillborghs sacrificed, Fuentes struck out Garret Atkins and Clint Barmes for his league leading 20th save. All in all, the bullpen (Oliver, Bulger, Jepsen, Fuentes) worked four hitless innings, with Kevin Jespen earning the win.

Thoughts on the game:

  • After Torii Hunter and Chone Figgins, conventional wisdom would suggest that Bobby Abreu has been the Angels' third best hitter. But Juan Rivera is slugging 100 points higher than Abreu, and on a power starved team, he's been pretty indespensible this year.
  • It really makes you wonder. I know it's only been two starts, but Sean O'Sullivan struggled in Salt Lake, yet he comes to the big club and gives the team a good chance to win in his first two starts. Goes to show that minor league numbers probably aren't reliable indicators of a player's ability.
  • Since May 1st, Brian Fuentes is 15/17 in save opportunities, with a respectable 3.31 ERA and 16 strikeouts in 16.1 IP. Take away the game against Seattle where he allowed a three run homer in the ninth, and his ERA is almost cut in half. He hasn't been lights-out dominant, but he's been effective, which is more than can be said for much of the bullpen over that stretch, last night's game notwithstanding.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Rocked: Angels 1; Rockies 11

Just the Angels' luck that they happen to hit the Rockies in the midst of winning 17 of 18, with two more games to go. This was a night where almost everything went wrong for the Angels. The good news is that you may as well have everything go wrong on the same night. No use spreading that stuff around.

Matt Palmer suffered his first loss of his Angels career, and quite frankly, he was due for it. It looked like it was going to be another typical Palmer start: struggle early, settle in and dominate, and wait for the bats to come through. He gave up three runs in the second inning on three singles, two walks, and two wild pitches. He responded by retiring the next nine hitters in order, and appeared to be on the right track. But in the fifth inning, after retiring the leadoff hitter, he allowed a single, a walk, and three run homer from Brad Hawpe, and the game was essentially over at that point.

The Angels offense wasn't much better. They mustered only three hits off of starter Aaron Cook. One off the bat of Kendry Morales left the yard, briefly giving the Angels hope at 3-1, his 12th homer of the season. It was also the Angels' final hit of the game. They managed just two baserunners over the final five innings.

The bullpen was once again the bullpen that we've grown tired of seeing this year. Rich Thompson, Rafael Rodriguez, and Jason Bulger combined to allow five runs in 4.1 innings.

Thoughts on the game:

  • Not much to say really. Every facet of the Angels performance was worthy of defeat. The Rockies are hot, of course, but they didn't need to be to win this game.
  • Since taking over the full time second base job, Maicer Izturis is hitting 333/429/600. That sounds great, but in those nine games he has 10 hits, and seven of them came in two games.
  • Kendry Morales isn't putting up all-star numbers at first base, but he hasn't been bad, and I think he's been pretty much what the Angels expected. He's also been remarkably consistent, hovering around his current line of 272/322/515 for much of the season. I'd like to see the ISO OBP increase, but the power number (12 homers, 20 doubles) are solid.