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Indians 3, Angels 2: Three Up, Three Down

7/25/2011

The Angels' bullpen blew a game the team really couldn't afford to lose.

Rookie closer Jordan Walden and lefty Hisanori Takahashi coughed up two runs in the ninth inning, including Jason Kipnis' game-winning, two-out RBI single to give Cleveland a 3-2 win at Progressive Field.

The Angels slipped to four games back of the first-place Texas Rangers with six games left on this 10-game road trip.

The Good:

Dan Can. Clearly, the best argument the Angels can make that they're a playoff team is the presence of Jered Weaver and Dan Haren in their rotation. Haren was coming off one of his shortest outings of the year, though, a lousy start against the Rangers. He erased any lingering doubts by controlling a young Indians lineup, striking out 10 thanks to a wickedly tumbling split-finger fastball.

Bobby's blast. A lot of questions were starting to get asked about whether Bobby Abreu is in the sunset of his career. He has been slumping lately and hasn't driven the ball well in the past two seasons. But Abreu, 37, got a hold of one against reliever Vinnie Pestano and hammered it into the right-field stands to stake Haren, suddenly, to a lead in the eighth inning. Of course, it didn't hold.

Signs. The Angels' on-again, off-again offense seems fairly straightforward. When guys in the middle of the lineup drive the ball, they have a chance. If Abreu can join Vernon Wells and Torii Hunter by producing runs again, the Angels could get this thing going. If all three slump in the next couple of months, the Rangers will run away with the division.

The Bad:

No offense, but... Fausto Carmona has good stuff. With a heavy power sinker, he's not a comfortable guy to hit against. But the bottom line is he's got a 5.34 ERA and it's nearly August. Clearly, somebody has figured out a way to get to him. The Angels' offense continues to do more things wrong than right. Their main issue is an inability to convert opportunities into runs.

Kid closer. If you're going to put young, untested players in key situations, you've got to live with their failures. Walden has massive upside, but he still hasn't gained crucial trust in a second pitch, a slider. By the time he threw his first off-speed pitch Monday, he had thrown 10 straight fastballs and was in all sorts of trouble. No matter how hard you throw, some major-leaguers eventually can catch up to it. Travis Hafner is one of them. His double helped ruin the night for the Angels.

Trumbo's impatience. The Angels might have the Rookie of the Year in their clubhouse, but Mark Trumbo's approach has a serious hole. He needs to work on his patience. Trumbo has walked six times in the past two months (and struck out 30 times). Good power hitters typically are selective in this era, so Trumbo has some work to do before he's a complete player.