3 up, 3 down: A's 4, Angels 2
April, 19, 2012
By Mark Saxon | ESPNLosAngeles.com
ANAHEIM -- The Angels showed some signs of breaking out of their hitting slump, but the results were numbingly familiar.
Two weeks into the season, the Angels have lost every series they have played.
With a 4-2 loss to the Oakland A's, their third loss in a four-game series, the Angels have now lost series to the Kansas City Royals, Minnesota Twins, New York Yankees and Oakland. It's not exactly a recipe for a World Series run. The Angels (4-9) now trail the first-place Texas Rangers by seven games, a stunning hole this early in the season.
Albert erupts. Oh, so that's what all the fuss was about. Albert Pujols still hasn't hit a home run -- though one ball smacked off the wall inches from clearing it -- but he did just about everything else to stoke this offense to life. He smashed three doubles, the first Angel to do that since Chone Figgins in August 2009, but the rest of the lineup disappeared again and Pujols was stranded on the bases a couple of more times. Another nifty trick would be getting some runners on in front of him. Pujols is batting .302 but he only has four RBIs.
A little relief. Take it for what it's worth since the Angels were trailing from the second inning on, but the bullpen showed some signs of order. The salty veterans -- LaTroy Hawkins and Jason Isringhausen -- continued to pitch well and a struggling younger guy, Kevin Jepsen, got through his inning cleanly. Now, if the Angels could just do that when they're protecting a two-run lead, they'd have something.
Trum-bonk. The only guy who hit a ball harder than Pujols on Thursday was Mark Trumbo, whose line drive off the left-field wall was so well-struck that Jonny Gomes was able to get it in quickly enough to hold Trumbo to a single. Trumbo also walked and is showing signs of becoming a more complete hitter than he was a year ago. Think manager Mike Scioscia might want to find ways to keep him on the field, considering he has looked like the most dangerous hitter on the team?
E-bar. He signed a four-year, $35 million contract extension in the afternoon and accepted his Gold Glove in the early evening. Before the game, he was even walking around in the T-shirt the team gave away to commemorate his 2011 fielding award. Then, he went out and had one of his most embarrassing games as a professional. Erick Aybar made a couple of errors and had a bad at-bat in the clutch to snuff out a promising rally late.
Wild pitch. It was actually a pretty impressive outing for C.J. Wilson considering he seemed to have very little idea where the ball was going. Wilson needed 112 pitches to get through six innings, walked three guys and made a bad throwing error to usher in two Oakland runs in the fourth inning.
One hole. The Angels can't find a decent leadoff hitter. Aybar flailed at it, Peter Bourjos hasn't gotten his bat going and even Maicer Izturis, one of the hottest hitters on the team coming in, offered a weak case Thursday. In his second game leading off, Izturis was 0-for-5 and struck out three times. The Angels have already tried Bobby Abreu in the 1-hole. Maybe Pujols can do it?