Desperately seeking dynamism

May, 24, 2011
5/24/11
11:01
PM PT
ANAHEIM -- Here's a good way to think about this Angels season, which is now accompanied by the dull thrum of mediocrity: If the All-Star game were played tomorrow, who would represent the team?

Howie Kendrick has probably been the biggest threat with a bat in his hands, but he's hurt and might be on the precipice of the disabled list. Maicer Izturis has been consistent, but he's leveled off lately and the words "Maicer," "Izturis" and "All-Star" don't exactly come together like a song.

Jered Weaver looked like a lock to start the All-Star Game back on April 30, but he looks like a fringe bet to mop up on May 25.

The man who might be the most deserving, Dan Haren, is on pace to be about 8-6 by the time mid-summer gets here, not exactly a ringing endorsement for a trip to Arizona, a place Haren knows well.

The way the Angels have been supporting Haren when he pitches, he can't do anything that resembles being human. He took a while to get his command Tuesday, then made two mistakes, a couple of fastballs to a fastball hitter. David DeJesus hit a couple of home runs, the Angels trailed 5-0 after four innings and it felt as if the final innings were formalities.

Haren, who had allowed more than two earned runs in a start just once before Tuesday, is sitting at 4-3 in late May though he may have pitched better than any starter in the American League. Here are the number of runs the Angels had scored by the time Haren left the game in his last seven starts: 0, 1, 2, 2, 4, 0 and 0.

In other words, Haren has one choice most nights: be perfect or lose. Tuesday he wasn't close. Equals loss.

"Dan's not going to be on every pitch every night," manager Mike Scioscia said.

Haren's a good teammate, not a me guy. And by mid-May, with nobody in this division threatening to take the lead and tuck it away somewhere hard to find, what good does it do to complain?

"I'm kind of used to it. Starting pitchers have been walking a fine line, that's for sure, but I think it makes us better pitchers," Haren said. "Going out there and battling from pitch one, is good. Sometimes, you can get a little nit-picky in the zone, because you don't want to give up runs. That can be the only thing."

The problem with this Angels offense is the hitters in it. There just aren't enough good ones, specifically enough big, powerful ones. At times, the Angels can bunch stuff together and score more runs than you'd expect, but keeping home plate warm could be a challenge for a while, maybe for four more months or so. Losing Kendrick for two weeks could equal two weeks of silence.

Scioscia has been seeing a few good signs lately from his lineup, but it wasn't so long ago that things looked as barren as the desert that starts just a little bit east of here and stretches for 1,000 miles.

"There's no way we can let it regress to what it was the week before," Scioscia said.

It's starting to sound a bit desperate, isn't it?

Mark Saxon

ESPNLosAngeles.com
Mark Saxon is a staff writer for ESPNLosAngeles.com. He spent six years at the Orange County Register, and began his career at the Oakland Tribune, where he started an 11-year journey covering Major League Baseball. He has also covered colleges, including USC football and UCLA basketball.

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TEAM LEADERS

BA LEADER
Mike Trout
BA HR RBI R
.290 30 94 91
OTHER LEADERS
HRM. Trout 30
RBIM. Trout 94
RM. Trout 91
OPSM. Trout .934
WJ. Weaver 15
ERAG. Richards 2.61
SOG. Richards 164