3 up, 3 down: Royals 6, Angels 3
April, 7, 2012
By Mark Saxon | ESPNLosAngeles.com
ANAHEIM -- Dan Haren set a shaky early tone and the Angels couldn't sustain the momentum from Friday's late-rallying win as they lost 6-3 to the Kansas City Royals on Saturday afternoon. It was a lackluster effort in all phases.
Kendrys Morales took 22 months off from baseball, then picked up right where he left off. At least, that's what it has looked like in spring training and in these first couple of games. Morales is 5-for-7 so far. He's also running fairly well, at least by his lumbering standards, though he made a base-running blunder in the seventh inning. He tagged up on Torii Hunter's bloop liner to right and failed to score from third when it fell in.
Albert Pujols hasn't quite looked locked in for these first two games (he's 1-for-7), but at least he got over one early hump. He picked up his first hit, a rocket over the left fielder's head for a double. Pujols slid in safely to second base, got up and clapped his hands together briskly. The Angels bartered a couple of autographs and a few tickets for the ball. That hit had to ease a little bit of the pressure of moving to a new team and signing a record contract.
For the first few weeks of a season, relievers jostle for roles. The Angels figure to have a fluid bullpen for a while, aside from the fact that Jordan Walden will close and Scott Downs will set up. On Saturday, two veterans made an early case for more prominent work. Hisanori Takahashi and Jason Isringhausen, pitching in borderline mop-up duty, combined for 1 2/3 scoreless innings.
Jered Weaver struggled in spring training and dominated on opening night. Haren dominated in spring training and ... yeah, it was not a good day for the Angels' No. 2 starter. Haren gave up 11 hits in 5 1/3 innings, including home runs to the Royals' best young hitters, Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas. Haren was 3-0 with a 2.05 ERA and 25 strikeouts in Arizona. Weaver was 2-2 with a 5.40 ERA.
Bobby Wilson has secured a job in the major leagues despite a .206 lifetime average largely because he does the little things well. On Saturday, some of the finer points got away from the Angels' backup catcher. He was picked off first base by catcher Humberto Quintero -- where was he going? -- in the third inning. He also threw a ball into left field for an error that ushered in a Kansas City run in the eighth.
Base running is supposed to be a strength for this team, but it hasn't been so far. The Angels made a couple of blunders Friday and a few more Saturday. In addition to Wilson's gaffe, Pujols ran through Dino Ebel's stop sign rounding third and was out at the plate on a close play. Morales, perhaps rusty from the long layoff, should have known tagging up would have done him no good with strong-armed Jeff Francoeur in right field for Kansas City.