In a totally unsurprising performance, the offense which could only score one run against Mariners rookie Doug Fister managed one fewer than that against Mariners ace Felix Hernandez. The Angels offense has seemingly been feast or famine of late, and last night was definitely famine. Hernandez had command of all of his pitches, and Angels hitters flailed accordingly, managing only four hits and seven baserunners, while striking out seven times.
Somewhat surprising, especially after the first three hitters, was the performance of newly minted Angel Scott Kazmir. His Angels career started with runners reaching via an error, a single, and a hit batter, leaving the bases loaded with no one out. Kazmir found his good stuff, however, and struck out the next three batters he faced to escape the first unscathed. He didn't stop there. He retired the next 15 hitters in a row and carried a shutout into the seventh inning. He left the game after allowing only three hits and one walk while striking out 8.
The Mariners got to Kazmir in the seventh. A leadoff walk to Mike Sweeney and a one out double from Bill Hall provided all the offense the Ms would need. Hall eventually scored on a steal of third and Mike Napoli's errant throw. Brian Fuentes allowed the Mariners' final run on a bases loaded walk.
Thoughts on the game:
- With the Rangers victory over Toronto, what seemed like a safe six game lead just two days ago has dwindled to 3.5 games. Considering that the Rangers have hammered the Angels this season, when one looks at the two teams' schedules down the stretch, one wouldn't be out of line predicting an AL West title for Texas.
- On the other hand, Kazmir's outing adds to a string of solid recent performances by the Angels' "real" starters, which should give the team some hope, assuming the offense can get back on track.
- High pitch counts continue to be a problem. Even good outings have been marred by early exits recently. That wasn't an issue the last few years when the Angels had a rock solid bullpen. With the shaky crew on the Angels' current roster, however, starters need to work deeper into games, or this team could be in trouble.