Category:MLB
Posted on: May 12, 2008 6:40 pm
 

Scuffling

No sooner did I hit the "enter" key on a previous blog post singing the praises of the Angels success on the road then they go and get swept in Tampa Bay by the Rays. Timing, as they say, is everything. The Halos have now lost four straight, and to say they have been offensively inept is an understatement of colossal proportions. James Shields, Scott Kazmir and few of the Rays bullpeners, including ex-Angel Troy Percival, held them scoreless for the first two games of the series, and really, the Angels didn't even come close to anything resembling a rally. This, along with the two Lakers losses in Utah (home to more white people than anywhere in the world) made my "sports weekend" less than enjoyable. Throw in the fact that both my fantasy teams got utterly destroyed, and I found myself looking for excuses not to watch television or use the computer -- two of my favorite pastimes. Not my favorite weekend ever.

Well, hopefully some home cooking can get the boys right. We have four games against the Pale Hose starting tonight and then the Trolley Dodgers head South to renew the Freeway Series rivalry over the weekend. The team needs youngster Nick Adenhart to step up big time in his third big league start tonight and play the role of stopper, as in losing streak stopper. Good news, Lackey is back and will make a start Wednesday, I believe. Other youngsters that need to step up include Brandon Wood and Sean Rodriguez.

Here's hoping for more than 3 or 4 hits...

Posted on: May 7, 2008 1:53 pm
 

Halos finding the road 'heavenly'

After last night's 5-3 win over the Royals in Kansas City, the Angels record away from the Big A stands at a league-best 12-5. Very impressive, considering the team did most of its damage in the friendly confines of Angels Stadium last season and played roughly .500 ball on the road. If we can start dominating like we have at home, and keep up a better pace on the road, the Angels are easily capable of surpassing last season's win total, which would hopefully mean another AL West title.

Nick Adenhart, the sequel. A little better than the original, but still not quite there. 4 1/3 innings with five walks against a fairly young and punchless Kansas City team. I think he walked 9-hitter Tony Pena twice and he's hitting like a buck-fifty. You gotta be able to lay one or two down the middle to hacks like that and Nick just couldn't. Good, live arm, and he did improve from his first outing. Got to within two outs of having a chance at his first big league win, but after walking consecutive batters in the 5th, had to hit the showers. He might get one more shot at that first win four or five days from now.

There was a Garret Anderson sighting last night. Finally. GA singlehandedly carried the offense knocking in five runs, including a 3-run shot, his second homer in two days. Hopefully GA gets it going.

Vlad had a triple-double last night. Make that a triple and a double, and he was robbed on a laser up the middle by Royals second baseman Mark Grudzasomethingorother. All those were hard hit balls to the right side. When Vlad's going good, he hits a lot of balls hard to right field. Watch out.

Howie Kendrick went 3-3 with 2 HR in a rehab start in single-A Rancho Cucamonga. He should be back soon, maybe tonight.

Uh, Casey Kotchman is pretty good. Kotch is batting .333 with 6 HR and 21 RBI and is leading the majors with a .545 average off of lefties....545. That's pretty good.

Posted on: May 5, 2008 6:47 pm
 

Angels - O's Series Wrap

After dropping game one of the three-game set with the Orioles, the Angels stormed back to defend the Big A and took the final two games to win yet another series. Game one was there for the taking too, as we mounted a nice little rally in the 9th, but fell short, as pinch-hitter Juan Rivera popped up with one out and runners on second and third.

Garland twirled a gem, leading the Halos to a win in game 2, 3-1. Garland's last two starts have been his worst and his best. Hopefully he can avoid outings like the meltdown he had against the A's and just be more consistent. I don't expect a ton of 8-inning, lights-out performances like he showed this weekend, either...just to keep us in games, eat innings and give the team a chance to win on most nights.

The Halos took the rubber match by jumping on Orioles starter Steve Trachsel (seriously, how's this guy still pulling a big league paycheck?) and bailing out Joe Sauunders, who struggled through 5 innings, but improved to 6-0 on the season. The offense probably owes Joe a couple as he's needed minimal run support up until this outing. Vladdy got some rest and hopefully he starts to heat up soon as I don't expect Garret to anytime soon. Torii Hunter hit his first bomb since the walk-off granny, this one, an absolute rocket shot over the bullpens in left field, gave the team a nice jolt early in the game after the O's had come out strong themselves. Mathis looked good throwing out Roberts attempting to steal third and then picked him off in the 9th to help seal a win in a tight game.

Off on another roadie, this time to Kansas City and then to Tampa Bay, to visit our old friend Joe Maddon, who's got a nice young team and should pose a tough challenge.

Posted on: May 2, 2008 12:53 pm
 

Angels - A's Series Wrap

Well, the Angels and A’s just split a four game series that was, uh, odd. To say the least. Games one and four were blowouts with the A’s putting up 14 and 15 runs en route to easy wins. The middle games were dominated by Angels pitching with Joe Saunders and Ervin Santana each going to 5-0 on the season. To say this wasn’t your average Angels vs. A’s series is definitely an understatement.

In the two blowouts, it didn’t seem like the A’s were scorching the ball. They hit some balls hard and others just found holes. They did hit three bombs in the first game, but they strung together a bunch of hits to do the damage, in game four.

Nick Adenhart made his Angels debut and struggled with his fastball control, walking five batters in two-plus innings and surrendering five earned runs…ouch. He was only working on three day’s rest so it wasn’t exactly the best of circumstances for the kid. I suspect he’ll get a chance at redemption, maybe two, as John Lackey makes a couple more rehab starts.

So, we were tied with the A’s atop the West when the series started and we’re still tied with the A’s. The Orioles are in town starting tonight and then off to Kansas City. Bottom line, we gotta play better.

Posted on: April 24, 2008 7:33 pm
 

Road Warriors

In a previous post I called this road trip a “test.” Well, half the test is done, and after taking 2 of 3 from the Red Sox (albeit, a flu-ridden, sore neck-ridden Sox club) in Fenway, which has been less than hospitable to the Halos in recent years, I feel pretty confident jotting a big B+ in red pen on the work of the team thus far.

In all honesty, this could have, and probably should have, been a sweep. We were slated to face the two best pitchers the Sox have in Josh Beckett and Daisuke Matsuzaka, but both were scratched, forcing the Sox to call up some emergency starters from the minors. Hey, emergency starters or not, you still gotta hit the ball, and the Angels did, getting production from up and down the lineup. Offensive heroes were Jeff Mathis, Gary Matthews, Erick Aybar and Casey Kotchman with honorable mentions going to Torii Hunter and Maicer Izturis, who seems to be coming out of his early season slump.

As for the pitching, not bad considering how hot the Red Sox bats have been and how good they are in their ball park consistently. Weaver went in game 1 and kept us in the game without his best stuff, which has yet to make an appearance thus far. Garland was solid in game 2 getting the win, and really, only made one bad mistake which David Ortiz turned into a souvenir. And today, Saunders pitched into, and more importantly, out of trouble, picking up his fourth win of the season.

The bullpen seems to be stabilizing somewhat, preserving wins in two of the three games with Speier, Shields and Franky all looking pretty good. They weren’t lights-out, but against that lineup, who is? My worries about the early season struggles of the pen are slowly being eased with every lead they hold onto. Franky’s velocity is coming back and his changeup is becoming every bit as devastating as his slider.

Off to Detroit to cool off some more hot bats.

Posted on: April 21, 2008 6:42 pm
 

Early Season Test for the Halos

Not that the Angels schedule so far has been easy, but it is about to get much tougher as they embark on a roadie that has them playing three in Fenway against the scorching hot Red Sox and three in Detroit against the resurgent Tigers, who are starting to hit the ball.

I think this is a nice test to see where we stand right now while putting our somewhat depleted team up against some of the best the AL has to offer. We have obviously had our troubles at Fenway, so I'm just hoping to get one game there and then maybe steal two in Detroit if we get a couple quality starts (I haven't really checked the pitching matchups yet). All in all, I'd be happy with a 3-3 trip.

Just want to see the club play some good baseball...and see how Hunter and Garland repsond to helping their new team beat our nemesis...the hated Red Sox. Should be interesting.

Posted on: April 20, 2008 2:27 am
 

DOMINANT

By about the sixth inning I was scrambling to my computer hoping I wasn't too late. I quickly logged into my Yahoo! fantasy baseball league and let out an audible sigh of relief. Ervin Santana was still available. Heck, I didn't even have to drop anyone as I had an open DL spot waiting for another player.

Of course, Santana winning at the Big A is nothing new. He's damn near unbeatable in his home ballpark. Problem is, he's been VERY beatable everywhere else and last season he really wasn't good anywhere, hence the demotion to Triple-A and stints coming out of the bullpen. But coming into tonight's start he was 2-0 with a 3.32 ERA and had pitched really well on the road. And tonight's start showed me something more. He looked confident and attacked the hitters with mostly his fastball the first time through the lineup. When he got ahead 0-2, he wasn't dancing around the zone wasting pitches, he continued to throw strikes and dared the batters to put it in play (oftentimes they couldn't) -- he flat-out dominated a team that hits the ball the pretty well at Angel Stadium. Eight innings, three hits, eight strikeouts and one earned run. Oh, and a 3-0 record on the season.

It seems like forever ago, but in 2006, Ervin went 16-8 with a 4.28 ERA and looked to be on his way to becoming a mainstay in the Angels rotation. I guess after a season like the one he had last year (7-14, 5.76) it becomes easy to forget the promise and talent we all witnessed his first two seasons in the league. He had a clunker of a season...it happens. Especially to young pitchers, and that is exactly what Ervin Santana was and still is. He's only 25 and now in his fourth big league season and it appears he's figuring it out. Great news for Angels fans, bad news for the rest of the AL.

Posted on: April 18, 2008 1:10 pm
 

Pop the Champagne!!!

The Halos have defeated the mighty Royals...finally.

OK, so a little over the top, but geez that streak was getting a little long for my taste. The Angels beat the Royals 5-3 last night behind a solid effort from Jon Garland, who ran his record to 2-2. Garret got the big hit, a bases-clearing double in the 3rd inning off Royals starter Brett Tomko and Gary Matthews and Erick Aybar each added an RBI in the 5th. Aybar is swinging a hot bat right now, and after his 2-for-3 last night his average is up to .318. As I mentioned in my previous blog entry, even the outs he's making right now are sharply hit. It's nice to have production up and down the lineup.

Vlad sat out after bruising his finger in game 1 of the series, but he's fine. He probably needed a night off anyways and it was good to get Juan Rivera some at-bats. I expect he'll be back in tonight against the Mariners.

Speaking of the Mariners, they have taken care of the A's the last few nights rather easily and we miss "Prince" Felix in this series. Here are the pitching matchups:

Game 1: Joe Saunders (2-0, 1.27) vs. R.A. Dickey (0-0, 0.00) - Dickey was called up to replace Erik Bedard who is on the DL. Dickey is a knuckleballer, so the Halos need to show some patience.

Game 2: Ervin Santana (2-0, 3.32) vs. Jarrod Washburn (1-2, 3.50)

Game 3: Dustin Moseley (1-1, 7.80) vs. Miguel Batista (1-2, 6.35)

Hopefully we can exact some revenge for the 2 of 3 they took in their home park and do the same here in Anaheim. As always with the M's, it should be a good series.

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com