Thursday, July 30, 2009

Angels 9; Indians 3

The Angels hit the century mark with their winning percentage at an even .600 as they took the rubber game against the Indians in an afternoon tilt. John Lackey continued to round into form, tossing seven innings and allowing one run while striking out eight. 70 of his 113 pitches went for strikes, and he allowed only three hits, though he did walk four hitters. The Indians learned before the game that reigning Cy Young winner Cliff Lee had been dealt to the Phillies, and they played as if they’d just lost their best friend.

The Angels got off to a fast start against Indians starter Aaron Laffey. The pushed across two runs in the first inning on RBI singles from and . The Indians cut the lead in half with a run in the fourth, but the Angels broke the game open with a five run fifth inning. The first six Angels to hit in the inning reached base, thanks in part to Luis Valbuena’s drop of Juan Rivera’s popup to second base. Again, Morales and Kendrick provided the big hits, combining to drive in three runs in the inning. The Angels finished their onslaught with Kendrick’s homer in the seventh inning.

pitched a perfect eighth. closed the game out after struggled, allowing two meaningless runs in the ninth.

Thoughts on the game:

  • had himself a day. He went 3-4 with five RBI and a home run. He’s now hitting .377 with 14 RBIs in July. Just another example of a Angel who has caught fire this month.
  • is starting to put it together at the right time for both the Angels and himself. The more he pitches like this into August and September, the more money he makes next season. The question is from whom he’ll be drawing a paycheck.
  • Combined with the Rangers’ loss to Detroit, the Angels lead is back to 3.5 games, and Seattle is now 7.5 games back. They shouldn’t be counted out yet, but one gets the feeling the Rangers gave the Angels their best shot, and they may not have enough the tank to make another run.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Angels 7; Indians 6

The Angels overcame another shaky start, needed to come from behind yet again, and survived a second straight awful performance from to end their two game losing streak.

Jered Weaver turned in a mediocre outing, but gave the Angels a chance to win. He struggled with his control, needing over 100 pitches (nearly half out of the strike zone) for five innings of work in which he allowed four runs on four hits while walking three. provided three excellent innings of relief and picked up the win in the process.

In the third inning, the Angels strung together five straight hits, leading to three runs. They may have had more if Chone Figgins hadn’t been eliminated at the plate trying to score from first base on ’s double. The Indians tied the game in the fourth inning, and took a one run lead on Jhonny Peralta’s solo shot in the fifth. The Angels finally caught up and pulled ahead with a four run eighth inning. ’s RBI single tied the game, but things looked bleak when grounded into a double play. But after Indians reliever Tony Sipp walked the next two hitters, loading the bases, Gary Matthews Jr. delivered a three run double.

took the ball in the ninth and failed to record an out, his second straight awful outing. relieved Fuentes with the bases loaded, and induced a grounder to first from Victor Martinez which led to a brilliant 3-6-1 double play, pulling the Indians to within one. Bulger got Peralta to ground to short to end the game.

Thoughts on the game:

  • Give a lot of credit to Mike Scioscia for finally realizing that his closer wasn’t going to get it done and giving the ball to someone else. Bulger came into an impossible situation and got two ground balls to end the game. After two straight losses, the Angels really needed this one.
  • had two more hits. He’s having an unbelievable month. He’s hitting 439/465/598 for July, and he’s pulled his season numbers to 318/357/433, good for an OPS+ of 105, which is terrific for a shortstop of his defensive caliber. In the absence of Torii Hunter and Vlad, the slack has been more than adequately picked up by Aybar and Kendry Morales. This is a really fun offensive team to watch.
  • , , and Jered Weaver aren’t doing anything to convince Tony Reagins that the Angels don’t need to add a starter. But the replacement may be Sean O’Sullivan, who has looked solid at the major league level, and just pitched a no-hitter against Sacramento in AAA last night.