Archive for the ‘Los Angeles Angels’ Category
Wednesday, April 10th, 2013
Adam LaRoche ended his standard early season drought with two home runs in consecutive at bats and the Nationals squeaked by the Chicago White Sox, 8-7 to bring their record to 5-2. LaRoche’s homers helped the Nationals stave off a surging Chicago line-up — and helped the team to survive some shaky bullpen outings.
LaRoche’s blasts came in the 6th inning with one on and in the 8th with no one on. Ian Desmond and Jayson Werth also went deep for the home towners. “You get into the second week of the season, that’s never a good feeling to look up there and not have a hit,” Laroche said following the win. “I felt great that first series at home, I just couldn’t get the ball to fall. To come back and get a couple [tonight] was nice.”
The home runs were needed: Chicago’s Paul Konerko blasted a three run home run in the 7th inning off of Tyler Clippard to bring the score within one. Washington came back to tack on a run in the bottom of the 7th, which was followed by LaRoche’s second home run — but Chicago added two more in the top of the 9th off of Rafael Soriano, who then closed out the game.
Both Chicago and Washington were hoping their starters would turn Tuesday’s game into a classic pitching match-up, but Jake Peavy gave up six runs on nine hits in 5.1 inning, while Nats’ lefty Gio Gonzalez surrendered four hits in five innings. That wasn’t so bad, but Washington’s bullpen gave up seven hits and four runs in the next four frames.
Washington’s big inning came in the 6th, when the Nationals put four runs on the board — with home runs from Werth and LaRoche. “Obviously, the sixth inning got away from us,” Peavy said. “I didn’t have much there, and it was hot and humid, and I ran out of gas. I didn’t have much left with LaRoche, and he put a good swing on it.”
Those Are The Details, Now For The Headlines: It’s deja vu all over again for the Los Angeles Angels, who are repeating their slow start from a year ago. The Angels dropped a slugfest at home last night, in their opener, against the forever surprising Oakland A’s. The Angels yielded a one run lead in the top of the 7th by giving up home runs to pinch hitter John Jaso and first sacker Brandon Moss. The A’s went on to dump the Halos 9-5 . . .
Nothing seems to be working for the Belinskys, and you can read the frustration in the face of Angels’ skipper Mike Scioscia. Ace C.J. Wilson came out of the clubhouse and promptly gave up three runs in the top of the 1st, but it could have been a lot worse: Wilson left the inning with the bases loaded . . .
Wednesday, December 5th, 2012
When baseball commentator Ken Rosenthal heard that the Nationals had signed righty Dan Haren to a one year $13 million contract, he shook his head in admiration: “This is a team building for the World Series,” he said on MLB Network, “and the signing of Haren shows that.”
Indeed. And Washington fans have every right to celebrate Haren’s arrival. After all, what’s not to like? The 32-year-old veteran has a track record of success (119-97 in ten years in the majors), racks up innings (238.1 in 2011), is a “gamer” — having thrown for both winners (Anaheim’s Belinskys) and losers (the up-and-down Snakes) and has shown remarkable consistency: never dipping below a .500 win/loss record in each of the last eight seasons.
But then there’s this: at the same moment that Danny and the Halos were tanking in the A.L West back in September, Haren was struggling through the worst season of his career, posting careers worsts in WHIP, H/9, HR/9, tying his second worst K/9 and throwing “only” 176 innings, his worst mark since becoming a starter in 2005.
What’s not to like? Well, plenty as it turns out. For while Haren was once among baseball’s elite fireballers, his fastball hasn’t topped out at an unspectacular 92-93 mph for the last two years and his back and hip problems were so bad that the mighty Cubs called off a proposed swap back in November that would have brought him to Chicago in exchange for Carlos Marmol.
Of course — and perhaps in spite of all of it — the signing of Haren brings a definite upside for the Nats, despite his poor year. The righty rebounded after the All Star break (a 3.58 ERA in thirteen starts), and pitched better even with his injury than Washington’s fourth starter, Edwin Jackson.
Saturday, July 28th, 2012
The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim obviously take that old saw that “you can never have enough pitching” seriously. On Friday, the Angels added a sixth arm to their five man rotation — a clear bid to up the ante on the Texas Rangers, their division rivals. The pitching rich Belinskis just got richer.
Or maybe the pitching rich Belinskys haven’t been as rich as they seem from afar. Angels’ G.M. Jerry DiPoto has not been impressed by the Angels’ rotation, despite their cumulative 3.78 ERA, which puts them fifth in the A.L., just a tick behind the Rangers. With Greinke, they’ll be even better.
Think of it: the Angels now have six potential starters. There’s the dominant Jered Weaver (he’s 13-1 for God’s sakes) and C.J. Wilson, followed by Greinke, Dan Haren, Ervin Santana, and Jerome Williams. Six. And that’s not counting righty wunderkind Garrett Richards, who many pundits believed would be the major “ask” in any significant trade. He wasn’t. Which means the Angels don’t have six potential starters, but seven.
There are teams in the majors that would kill for just two. But DiPoto made the swap, giving up can’t miss middle infield prospect Jean Segura and Double-A righties Ariel Pena and John Hellweg in exchange for the Brewers’ ace. Everyone is yacking about Greinke, but Segura is destined to start at second, and Pena and Hellweg are on their way to the majors. The Angels paid a steep price.
Was it worth it? While the rest of us look at the Halos’ starters and see possibilities, DiPoto and skipper Mike Scioscia look at their rotation and see problems. Ervin Santana is a big name, but he’s had a small arm this season, doing the equivalent of a face plant while on the mound. He’s 4-10 with a 6.00 ERA. To say that he’s struggled is an understatement.
And he’s not the only problem: the inestimable Dan Haren has not been Dan Haren. Last night, Haren made his second quality start since coming off the disabled list (with lower back problems), throwing a six inning five hitter over the Tampa Bay Rays. But this was only the second quality start for Haren, who had a 6-6 record and 4.86 earned-run average just a few weeks ago.
Sunday, June 3rd, 2012
Over forty-one thousand fans packed Nationals Park to see Stephen Strasburg throw seven complete, leading the Nationals to a 2-0 shutout of the Atlanta Braves on Saturday. Dueling Braves youngster Brandon Beachy, Strasburg was aided by a home run into the left field bullpen by Jesus Flores, and an into-the-corner double from Xavier Nady.
This was Strasburg’s sixth victory of the season, and he seemed untouchable. “That’s the best I’ve seen [Strasburg] throw,” Braves catcher Brian McCann said. “He basically did anything he wanted today. He was pounding the ball down in the zone and mixing it up. He was putting his curveball where he wanted it. When you throw that hard and you can command it like that, it makes it tough on hitters.”
With the victory, the Nationals continued their dominance of division rival Atlanta. The win follows a three game sweep of the Chops in Atlanta. “I felt like I was getting stronger as the game went on,” Strasburg said. The game also featured the return of Michael Morse from the disabled list. The rehabbed left fielder was given a standing ovation from Nationals fans prior to his first at bat.
Those Are The Details, Now For The Headlines: We’re two months from the trade deadline, but trade talks are heating up — and they include some well known names. Kevin Youkilis is apparently on the block in Boston. According to Jon Heyman, the Dodgers, Phillies and Diamondbacks are interested in the third sacker . . .
The Nationals are still interested in acquiring a center fielder, according the Bill Ladson, and have their eye on Denard Span in Minnesota and Peter Bourjos in Anaheim. The club could sure use another bat, but are either Span or Bourjos the right fit? Bourjos is hitting .211 in L.A., though Span is hitting a torrid .303 for the last place Twinkies . . .
Tuesday, May 29th, 2012
Last night’s Los Angeles Angels-New York Yankees match-up seemed like so much ho-hum for N.L fans: a predictable struggle between the Titans of Gotham and an empire-in-the-making. These kinds of things hold little interest for the small ball, double-switch afficianadoes of D.C., Miami, Milwaukee, or Colorado who tend to look down on teams that have non-position players in uniform that are “designated.”
But L.A.’s walk-off, 9-8 bottom-of-the-ninth victory portended more of the same as this summer passes, and perhaps a sign of what is to come for both teams in September and October. They could not be more different. The Bombers are a team built on power and savvy age (even their website looks old), with a shaky staff, while the Belinskys are constructed around the best player in the game and a bevy of solid starters.
That sounds right, but you’d never know it from last night’s game. Solid starter Jered Weaver seemed anything but solid, as the Yankees touched him up for three runs in the top of the first. Then, even more ignobly, Weaver twisted, tore or tweaked something as he delivered a slider. He was suddenly done for the night, making way for a gaggle of relievers who looked just so-so.
The stage was set for the Yankees to cruise to victory. But this is not the Yankees of old, or even of two years ago. Empire starter Phil Hughes brought L.A. back into the game with a very average performance — seven runs on eleven hits in just 5.1 innings of work. Here’s the shocker: when he walked off the mound, the Yankee fans in the stands (a surprising number, in Angel crazy L.A.) gave him a standing ovation.
That’s the way it is in Yankee-land it seems: poor performances are built into the ubiquitous pinstripe “legend,” where every pitcher is a potential Whitey Ford, every hitter is compared with Mantle, and every mediocre outing is transmuted into “gutty.” ESPN headlined this performance — “Hughes Doesn’t Look Suited To Start” — to which we would add: or relieve.
L.A. eventually won the back-and-forth affair with a triumphant home run (a “trumbomb”) from Mark Trumbo, an underrated an often-ignored force at the plate in his sophomore year. You’d have to be out of your mind to think that this guy won’t be a superstar: in 41 games this year he has eight home runs and 22 RBIs. Last night’s shot snuck just inside the left field foul pole, but his power’s not in question.
Oh, and then there’s that Angels’ rookie, Mike Trout. Touted by some scouts as even better than Bryce Harper, the rookie is setting L.A. on fire: his .302 average is second only to Trumbo’s, and he’s a whiz in the outfield — which is (we wince in saying this) more than we can say for Bryce. And while he’s not as whip-fast as Harper, Trout is sneaky quick, with that all-out college baseball style shown by his Nationals’ counterpart.
Friday, May 4th, 2012
Ross Detwiler shut down the Arizona Diamondbacks, allowing just three hits and one run over 6.1 innings to lead the Washington Nationals to a 2-1 victory at Nationals Park. Detwiler kept the Snakes hitless into the fifth inning, throwing 92 pitches, 63 of them for strikes. Ryan Mattheus, Tyler Clippard and Henry Rodriguez were perfect in relief.
“Det pitched one [heck] of a ballgame,” Nats’ manager Davey Johnson said after the victory. “The Diamondbacks are a good-hitting ballclub. He made quality pitches. I was really impressed with Det. He gave me a good 6 1/3. He was my star of the game.” Detwiler was also pleased with his outing: “I felt good. I really wish I could have finished that seventh inning,” he said. “My location was off. You can’t put two people on base there.”
While Detwiler outshone D-Backs starter Ian Kennedy, most of the baseball press spilled ink over the continuing stellar play of rookie phenom Bryce Harper, who notched the game winning RBI. With Ian Desmond on second in the 6th inning, Harper scorched a seeing-eye liner down the left field line. “I knew I had to get something deep in the outfield, basically through the hole,” Harper later reflected. “Kennedy is a great pitcher . . . I was trying on wait back on something, and I got something to drive.”
Those Are The Details, Now For The Headlines: We note with some satisfaction that Jered Weaver’s Wednesday no hitter versus the Twins was the tenth in the history of the Belinskis. The first was tossed by . . . Bo Belinsky, against Balitmore in 1962, when Belinsky — then believed to be the next big thing on the left coast, was 10-11 . . .
It’s hard to believe that Belinsky actually had time to throw a no-hitter that year, as he was all the rage in Hollywood and one of baseball’s more well-know partiers, dating Ann-Margaret, Connie Stevens, Tina Louise and Mamie Van Dorn . . . that sounds great (or did, at the time), but it would have been better if he’d stuck to baseball . . .
Belinsky started 1962 with four straight wins, including the no-hitter — the only time that had been done by a pitcher in Halo history. Well, until the other night. Belinsky (a kind of fetish here at CFG, in case you’ve noticed), was never again as good as he was that year, and dissipated a promising career. He was 2-9 the next year, was traded to the Phillies and ended his career in 1970 . . .
“I went from a major league ballplayer to hanging onto a brown bag under the bridge,” he later said, “but I had my moments and I have my memories. If I had the attitude about life then that I have now, I’d have done a lot of things differently. But you make your rules and you play by them. I knew the bills would come due eventually, and I knew I wouldn’t be able to cover them.”
You can be sure that Angels’ hurler Jered Weaver won’t have the same problems. The excitable Weaver is steady-as-she-goes on the mound (and married) who depends on . . . well, he depends on dependability to get the job done. He throws strikes. Then too, as the rest of baseball knows, he’s not some kind of temporary flash . . .
Like Belinsky, Weaver has started the year 4-0, but that’s where the similarities end. Weaver is in his seventh, not his first, year with the Angels, after coming off a stellar 18-8 2011 campaign. He was a first round pick back in 2004, and the closest he’ll get to stardom is an appearance on the David Letterman Show. He was invited, but production mix-ups nixed it . . .
Then too, Weaver’s no-hitter was so efficient he damn near lulled the batters to sleep. Not with overpowering righty stuff, mind you, but a mix of heaters and breaking balls that had the Twinkies back on their heels . . . nor does Weaver have any of the arrogance that marked Belinsky’s outings, which were Hollywood events . . .
“I couldn’t believe it,” Weaver said yesterday. “I never would’ve thought in a million years that I’d first and foremost be in the big leagues pitching, but throw a no-hitter in the big leagues. It was very surreal. It’s amazing how it’s come full circle. To do that in front of your home fans and stuff, it was unbelievable.”
It’s easy to see why Weaver is so effective . . . when he isn’t striking out opposing hitters, he’s willing to pitch to contact. While he tossed nine strikeouts in his no-no, Weaver induced fourteen fly balls. He fools hitters, the sign of a savvy veteran. That said, he led the league in strikeouts (233) back in 2010 and he might again. But if he can’t throw it by you he’s willing to settle for an out any way he can get it . . . which is why he’s one of the best in the game . . .
Saturday, April 21st, 2012
Rick Ankiel went 3-3 with a home run and an RBI to lead the Washington Nationals to a clutch 2-0 win over the Miami Marlins at Nationals Park on Friday night. Ankiel’s hitting supported yet another stellar performance from Washington’s pitchers, who shut down the Marlins on four hits.
Washington fans hope the victory marks the first step in breaking the choke-hold the Marlins have had against the Nationals. While Ankiel’s hitting was key, Ross Detwiler showed once again why he was named Washington’s fifth starter after coming out of Spring Training. Detwiler threw six innings of three hit ball, then was supported by a trio of relievers — including Craig Stammen, Tyler Clippard and closer Henry Rodriguez. This was Detwiler’s second victory of the year.
“Det was superb,” Nats’ manager Davey Johnson said following the victory. “I think he had another inning in him. But he had a shortened spring where he got into the rotation late, and that was just his third outing, against a good-hitting ballclub. I didn’t want to push my luck. I had a fresh bullpen. He was a little shocked that I took him out.”
Ankiel’s 3-3 night included a third inning home run (a shot — to the back of the center field entrance), a single in the bottom of the 5th, and an 8th inning double to right field. The Nats were pleased with their play, particularly considering the Marlins have dominated the team in the past. “This is a big series,” Johnson noted. “We’ve had a history of not playing good against Florida — or Miami. Not that we thrashed them, but we beat them first time out of the chute,” Johnson said.”We know we’re pretty good. We just have to go prove it.”
Those Are The Details, Now For The Headlines: The Daily Pitch says there’s no one pitching better, “or faster” than the Nationals. But it’s not simply speed that makes Nats’ starters special, the Pitch says. Nationals’ hurlers are throwing over 65 percent first pitch strikes, which ranks them just behind the Dodgers and Cardinals in the National League . . .
In case you didn’t notice, White Elephants veteran righty Bartolo Colon threw 38 straight strikes the other night against the Los Angeles Angels of (you got it) Anaheim — not exactly a bunch of chumps. According to Bleacher Report, “17 were called strikes, 10 were foul balls, 10 balls were put in play (eight outs and two hits) and stunningly only one was a swinging strike.” Thirty-five of the 38 strikes were either two seam or four seam fastballs. Here’s a video, and it’s well worth watching . . .
Here’s an even more impressive breakdown of Colon’s offerings: thirty five of the pitches were fastballs, 27 were in the zone, 17 were strikes without a swing, ten were foul balls, ten were put in play, and only one was a swing and a miss. Colon threw 108 pitches in the game (oh, the A’s won, 6-0 by the way), 82 of them for strikes . . .
Beginning in the 5th inning and well into the 8th, eleven batters in a row saw nothing but strikes. A’s fans extolled Colon, but fans of the Belinskis were less impressed. Their solution — fire hitting coach Mickey Hatcher. They have a point: Halo hitters stood there and watched it happen. “There appears to be no process for scouting pitchers and putting together a game plan before a game and there sure as hell aren’t any in game adjustments being made,” Halo Hangout noted.
“I felt like I threw a lot of strikes, but I never thought I threw 38 in a row. I didn’t know anything about it until I came in here,” Colon said through a translator. “The two-seamer was the most consistent pitch that I had tonight. I feel good because I know that team has great players.”
We shouldn’t be surprised by the Colon outing, though we know a lot of people who shook their head when Brad Billy Beane signed the righty for one year and $2 million in January. Admit it: we all thought ‘what an idiot. Brad Billy has lost his touch.’ We should know better. Colon pitched well for the Yankees last year, and won the A.L. Cy Young Award back in 2005 as a member of the Angels when he went 21-8 with 3.24 ERA and 157 strikeouts.