Gausman sharp as Orioles beat Angels 4-3

July, 30, 2014
Jul 30
6:54
PM PT
video

BALTIMORE -- Kevin Gausman pitched seven innings of three-hit ball, Adam Jones homered and the Baltimore Orioles beat the Los Angeles Angels 4-3 on Wednesday night for their seventh win in nine games.

Gausman (5-3) retired the first 14 batters he faced. The rookie allowed three runs and three walks in his first career start against the Angels.

Darren O'Day struck out two in a perfect eighth and Zach Britton gave up a single in the ninth before earning his 21st save.

The victory lifted the AL East-leading Orioles to 14 games over .500 (60-46) for the first time July 22, 2013.

Garrett Richards (11-4) gave up four runs and six hits in seven innings. It was his second straight defeat following a seven-game winning streak.


(Read full post)


Lough Beats The Tag

July, 30, 2014
Jul 30
5:28
PM PT


video

The Orioles' David Lough beat Angels catcher Chris Iannetta's tag to score on Ryan Flaherty's RBI single.
video

Orioles outfielder Adam Jones crushes a two run homer to dead center off Angels pitcher Garrett Richards.
video

BALTIMORE -- Manny Machado homered off Cory Rasmus leading off the 12th inning to give the Baltimore Orioles a 7-6 victory over the Los Angeles Angels on Tuesday night.

Machado hit a 1-2 breaking ball from Rasmus (2-1) into the seats in left field to end the back-and-forth duel between AL contenders.

Ryan Webb (3-1) worked out of a two-on, two-out jam in the top of the 12th for the Orioles, who improved to 12-3 in extra innings.

Adam Jones and Nick Markakis homered for Baltimore, playing its first home game since the All-Star break.

Josh Hamilton homered and had three RBIs for the Angels, who have dropped eight of their last 11 against the Orioles.

A potential pitching duel between Jered Weaver and Chris Tillman turned into a slugfest, as both former All-Stars left after the fifth inning with Baltimore leading 6-5.


(Read full post)


With Street, Angels bullpen now a strength

July, 27, 2014
Jul 27
10:17
PM PT
Huston Street is one of those closers who, when he comes in to face your team, always makes you think your boys have a chance for a comeback. Listed at 6-feet, he's not an intimidating presence and doesn't throw smoldering fastballs or wipeout splitters or bat-breaking cutters. He has that funky delivery when the bases are empty, in which he takes a big step to the side with his left leg and sort of drags his right plant leg across the rubber, like he's drawing a starting line in the dirt, and then taps his toe before going into his windup. He kicks his knee up and sort of scrunches his chin down and his shoulders together, like a dog curled up for a rest.

It's a form of deception -- maybe working to hide the ball just a little or present a motion batters aren't used to seeing -- enough to help his stuff play better than a scouting report would ever suggest. His fastball has averaged 89.4 mph this year -- his fastest has been a mere 91.8 mph -- velocity that hardly screams "closer."

But that's what Street has been in the major leagues since the A's made him a supplemental first-round pick out of the University of Texas in 2004. He was closing a year later and won American League Rookie of the Year honors with 23 saves and a 1.72 ERA. At his best, he leaves batters guessing, confused and probably shaking their heads in frustration as they head back to the dugout.

Take, for instance, Miguel Cabrera on Sunday. Brought in to protect a 2-1 lead in the ninth for the Angels after David Freese had homered in the eighth off Joba Chamberlain, Street retired Austin Jackson on a fly ball to center and Ian Kinsler on a grounder to first. That left Cabrera. Street is basically a fastball/slider guy, who mixes in the occasional changeup (his breakdown on the season: fastballs 50 percent, sliders 33 percent, changeups 17 percent). That ratio hasn't really changed much in recent years. Two fastballs for every slider; two sliders for every changeup. His two-seam fastball has some sink, though he tends to pitch up in the zone with it. He's been prone to home runs at times, especially in 2013, when he allowed 12 in just 56.2 innings with the Padres.

On this day, however, it was nothing but fastballs and sliders. He threw Jackson five straight sliders before finally getting him with a fastball. He started Kinsler off with a slider before retiring him on a 1-1 fastball. Cabrera swung through a first-pitch slider on the outside corner and then took a fastball for a strike, a pitch that might have been just off the plate. The 0-2 pitch was another slider, off the plate and in the dirt, but Cabrera read or thought fastball and flailed harmlessly for strike three.

This is exactly why the Angels acquired Street -- for those tough saves in one-run games against good clubs. It allows Mike Scioscia to stretch out his bullpen. Underrated Joe Smith is back in a setup role and pitched a perfect eighth inning. Rookie Mike Morin, a 12th-round pick in 2012 out of North Carolina, struck out three in 1 2/3 perfect innings and lowered his ERA to 2.50. Throw in the recently acquired veteran, Jason Grilli, plus Kevin Jepsen (1.84 ERA, .164 average allowed) and lefty Joe Thatcher, and the Angels' bullpen suddenly looks like a strength, not the weak spot it was the first two months of the season.

It's been a complete bullpen makeover for the Angels. Look at how the bullpen stacked up coming out of spring training:

  • Closer: Ernesto Frieri
  • Setup: Smith
  • Middle: Michael Kohn, Nick Maronde (L), Fernando Salas
  • Mopup/long relief: Jepsen, Matt Shoemaker


  • Only Smith and Jepsen remain from that original group (Salas was just optioned to Triple-A Salt Lake), with Shoemaker now doing a solid job in the rotation. Give credit to general manager Jerry Dipoto for making some moves, but it's also a reflection of the often volatile nature of bullpens. Who could have predicted Morin's rise (he was Baseball America's No. 14 prospect for the Angels heading into the season) or Jepsen having the best year of his career? Bullpens can go up and down from year to year -- or, often, within a year.

    This group reminds me a bit of what happened with the Cardinals back in 2011 on their way to a World Series title. That club had bullpen issues much of the season, as eight different relievers saved games, and two closers (Ryan Franklin and Salas) lost their jobs. Franklin, like Frieri, didn't last the season with the club. The Cardinals picked up Octavio Dotel and Marc Rzepczynski at the trade deadline and signed Arthur Rhodes. By the time Jason Motte finally became the closer, the bullpen had turned into a strength and was key as the Cardinals beat the Rangers in seven games.

    If you need more evidence of the rising strength of the Angels' bullpen, check out the following monthly totals:

  • April: 4.37 ERA, .239/.343/.397, 2.02 K/BB ratio
  • May: 4.46 ERA, .225/.308/.362, 2.21 K/BB ratio
  • June: 4.00 ERA, .251/.334/.400, 2.55 K/BB ratio
  • July: 1.90 ERA, .205/.248/.259, 5.20 K/BB ratio


  • Expect Mike Scioscia to lean even more on this group over the final two months, like he did Sunday when he pulled Hector Santiago after 85 pitches in the sixth inning. Santiago had allowed a one-out hit to Jackson, but with Kinsler and Cabrera up, Scioscia wanted a right-hander to face the meat of the Detroit lineup. Morin, who has held righties to a .157 average, got the call. Morin throws 90 to 94 mph with his fastball but has a very good changeup and developing slider. He struck out both Kinsler and Cabrera on changeups.

    A lot will still depend on Street, however. Maybe he's not cut from the prototypical closer mold. But he's been getting major league hitters out for a long time. He has depth in front of him. The Angels are looking good.

    If you're the Oakland A's, I'd be very worried about the team breathing down your neck.

    ANAHEIM, Calif. -- David Freese hit a tiebreaking homer off Joba Chamberlain in the eighth inning, and the Los Angeles Angels beat the Detroit Tigers 2-1 Sunday for their third straight victory.

    Erick Aybar scored from second base on Rick Porcello's poor pickoff throw in the fifth for the Angels, who improved the majors' second-best record to 63-41 in the finale of a 10-game homestand.

    Hector Santiago and three Angels relievers combined on a three hitter as Detroit managed just one hit in its final 25 at-bats, getting just one baserunner after the first inning.

    Victor Martinez had an RBI double in the first inning for the Tigers, who have lost nine of 10 at the Big A, including three of four in this series.


    (Read full post)


    ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Efren Navarro hit his first major league homer off Justin Verlander, and Matt Shoemaker combined with two relievers on a four-hitter as the Los Angeles Angels beat the Detroit Tigers 4-0 Saturday night.

    Shoemaker (8-3) threw just 78 pitches through seven innings, allowing three hits and no walks while striking out five against a lineup that came in leading the AL in batting average, hits, on-base percentage and slugging percentage. The only hits off the rookie right-hander were Ian Kinsler's first-inning double and singles by Eugenio Suarez in the third and Austin Jackson in the sixth.

    Kevin Jepsen pitched a perfect eighth and Jason Grilli got the last three outs. Jepsen has allowed only one earned run over his last 31 2/3 innings and 35 appearances.


    (Read full post)


    Angels slip past Tigers 2-1 with 6th-inning rally

    July, 25, 2014
    Jul 25
    10:20
    PM PT

    ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Efren Navarro and Kole Calhoun drove in runs in the sixth inning, and the Los Angeles Angels overcame Drew Smyly's early dominance for a 2-1 victory over the Detroit Tigers on Friday night.

    Tyler Skaggs yielded five hits in 5 2/3 resourceful innings for the Angels, who have won 14 of 19. Los Angeles improved the majors' second-best record to 61-41 and pulled within two games of the AL West-leading Oakland Athletics, who lost at Texas.

    Miguel Cabrera homered and Smyly (6-9) had a career-high 11 strikeouts while pitching into the sixth for the Tigers, who have lost seven of eight in Anaheim.

    Navarro had two hits after replacing Josh Hamilton in the fourth inning as the Angels earned their majors-leading 36th home victory by beating the majors' best road team.


    (Read full post)


    Josh Hamilton sits with sore knee

    July, 25, 2014
    Jul 25
    8:40
    PM PT

    ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Josh Hamilton was not in the lineup Saturday, sitting out one day after leaving the Los Angeles Angels' 2-1 win against Detroit in the fourth inning with left knee soreness.

    The former American League MVP grounded out weakly in his only at-bat, and he failed to make a play on J.D. Martinez's long fly to left in the second, allowing it to bounce for a double.

    Efren Navarro started for the second straight game, going 1-for-3 with a solo home run in the second and an RBI groundout in the sixth inning before J.B. Shuck replaced him in left to start the top of the ninth. On Friday, Navarro replaced Hamilton in left to begin the fourth inning and had two hits, including an RBI single in the sixth inning that drove in Kole Calhoun for the winning run. 

    Hamilton was batting .326 in the Angels' past 11 games, boosting his season average to .293. He has just five homers and 29 RBIs.

    The Associated Press contributed to this report.


    (Read full post)


    Thumb sapping Josh Hamilton's power

    July, 25, 2014
    Jul 25
    9:51
    AM PT

    Juan DeLeon/Icon SMIJosh Hamilton has struggled to hit for power since returning from a thumb injury.
    The Los Angeles Angels have gone 15-6 since the start of July. A big reason for the surge has been their offense, which has scored 114 runs since July 1, the most in baseball. But should the offense be even stronger?

    Josh Hamilton started the season red hot, slashing .444/.545/.741 in the first 8 games of the season. Hamilton obviously wasn’t going to maintain those numbers, but it did give Halo fans hope that he could become the power threat he was with the Texas Rangers when he slashed .305/.363/.549 over five seasons.

    Thumbs down
    Unfortunately, Hamilton then slid head-first into first base and tore a ligament in his left thumb.

    He has now played in 45 games since returning from the disabled list. In those games he has just three home runs, after hitting two prior to getting hurt.

    Thumb injuries are notorious for sapping a hitter’s power. Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper suffered a torn ligament in his thumb on a head-first slide a couple weeks after Hamilton did. He has seen his slugging percentage go from .422 before the injury to .368 after.

    Trouble with the curve
    This season, pitchers have found success attacking Hamilton with curveballs. He is batting .200 against the pitch. League average is .247.

    Hamilton has missed on 49 percent of his swings against curveballs. 22 of his 42 plate appearances that have ended in a hook, have resulted in a strikeout.

    Waiting for his pitch
    All is not lost for Hamilton, the main thing he needs to do is be more patient at the plate. When he gets a pitch in the middle zone vertically he is hitting .391, more than 100 points better than league average. But when a pitch is either up or down he is hitting .243.

    Hamilton has swung at 37 percent of pitches he has seen outside the strike zone. Among players with at least 200 plate appearances this season, that ranks 24th highest out of 257 players. As a result, 60 percent of the pitches he has seen have been out of the strikezone. The only player who has seen a fewer percentage of strikes is noted free-swinger Pablo Sandoval of the San Francisco Giants (62 percent of pitches outside of zone).

    ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Nick Castellanos drove in the tying and go-ahead runs with a double in the sixth inning and Max Scherzer won his fourth straight decision, leading the Detroit Tigers to a 6-4 victory over the Los Angeles Angels on Thursday night.

    Scherzer (12-3) tied teammate Rick Porcello and New York's Masahiro Tanaka for the league lead in wins. He allowed three runs and six hits over seven innings and struck out 11. It was the fourth time this season and 22nd in his career that the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner had double digits in strikeouts.

    Scherzer, the winning pitcher in the All-Star game, is 4-0 with a 2.21 ERA in six starts since giving up 10 runs over four innings in an 11-4 home loss to Kansas City on June 17. That came just five days after the seven-year veteran posted his first complete game and shutout in the major leagues with a three-hitter against the Chicago White Sox.


    (Read full post)


    ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Kole Calhoun drew a bases-loaded walk from reliever Brian Matusz in the eighth inning after a tying RBI double by Erick Aybar, and the Los Angeles Angels pulled out a 3-2 victory over the Baltimore Orioles on Wednesday night.

    Jered Weaver (11-6) allowed two runs and six hits through eight innings, striking out six and walking none before the Angels recorded their major league-best 31st come-from-behind win. The right-hander won his fourth straight decision.

    Orioles right-hander Chris Tillman allowed a run and five hits over six innings, stranded seven runners in scoring position and picked off another at second base before handing a 2-1 lead to Tommy Hunter.

    Josh Hamilton led off the eighth with a bloop single off Hunter (2-2) and came all the way around on Aybar's double to left-center. A two-out intentional walk to Efren Navarro and another walk to Chris Iannetta loaded the bases for Calhoun, who walked on a 3-1 pitch.


    (Read full post)


    ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Miguel Gonzalez took a two-hit shutout into the eighth inning, Jonathan Schoop homered and J.J. Hardy hit two RBI doubles to lead the Baltimore Orioles to a 4-2 victory over the Los Angeles Angels on Tuesday night.

    Gonzalez (5-5) allowed two runs and three hits in 7 2/3 innings, including a two-run homer in the eighth by All-Star game MVP Mike Trout after a walk to No. 9 hitter Hank Conger. The Angels' other hits against the right-hander were singles by Efren Navarro in the third and fifth innings.

    Tommy Hunter retired Albert Pujols on a grounder for the final out of the eighth and Zach Britton pitched a perfect ninth for his 18th save in 21 chances.

    Gonzalez was recalled from Triple-A Norfolk, where he was optioned on July 11 in order to keep him on his regular routine during the All-Star break.


    (Read full post)


    video

    Dirk Hayhurst joins Keith Olbermann to discuss Fernando Rodney's bow and arrow celebration, and Albert Pujols and Mike Trout's subsequent mocking of that celebration.

    SPONSORED HEADLINES

    TEAM LEADERS

    WINS LEADER
    Garrett Richards
    WINS ERA SO IP
    11 2.74 143 144
    OTHER LEADERS
    BAM. Trout .299
    HRM. Trout 24
    RBIM. Trout 76
    RM. Trout 74
    OPSM. Trout .970
    ERAG. Richards 2.74
    SOG. Richards 143