3 Up, 3 Down: Indians 3, Angels 2
April, 27, 2012
By Mark Saxon | ESPNLosAngeles.com
The Angels played a game, so their bullpen must have blown a game, right?
It only sounds like a bad joke. For the second day in a row, the Angels lost on a team's final at-bat, with the Cleveland Indians erasing a 2-0 lead in the final three innings Friday to win on Asdrubal Cabrera's game-winning single, 3-2.
It was the Angels' fifth loss in a row and their eighth in 10 games.
Hungry Hunter. One of the few guys you can't blame this implosion on is Torii Hunter. He broke out of his 2012 homer-less streak -- including spring training -- with his first long ball of the year and threw out a runner at the plate with a brilliant, no-hop throw from right field. Hunter, 36, is playing some of the best baseball of his career, but like Mark Trumbo the day before, he can't do it alone.
Hard worker. Jered Weaver seemed like he was having trouble gripping the hard balls in high 40s temperatures and, as a result, he had to fight hard to get through a quality start. Weaver walked four batters, two weeks' worth for him in some stretches, and needed 115 pitches to get through six innings. Still, when your starter gives you six scoreless innings, you should have a pretty good shot. Right now, the Angels don't. Next up, Dan Haren. Good luck.
LaTroy Hawkins. Yeah, the 39-year-old veteran gave up two hits in the eighth inning. But any time an Angels reliever gets through an inning without giving up runs, it's noteworthy. With this bullpen, you're forced to grade on a pretty shallow curve.
Bullpen disaster. The Angels have tried a lot of combinations, but maybe they just don't have enough quality pitchers in their bullpen. Earlier in the day, manager Mike Scioscia announced that Jordan Walden was being replaced at closer by veteran Scott Downs. But before Downs had a chance, Hisanori Takahashi and Kevin Jepsen had already frittered away the lead. Curiously, it was rookie David Carpenter pitching the ninth inning of a tie game and losing it, but who else did Scioscia really have to go to?
Coming around? Albert Pujols seems to be taking better at-bats, but the results so far haven't been dramatically different. He lined a single to left and smashed a ball to the third baseman for an out, but he remains homer-less after 80 at-bats, the second-longest stretch of his career. You almost get the impression almost everybody in the Angels' lineup is feeling Pujols' stress.
No-hit zone. The Angels just don't get enough base runners to pressure teams and they rarely come through in the clutch. They managed four hits in nine innings, kind of par for the course nowadays. It's been a broken record for three weeks. Alberto Callaspo (.186), Erick Aybar (.216) and Peter Bourjos (.178) aren't hitting, so they rarely have any action on the bases. The slumps by peripheral hitters are exacerbating the hole in the middle left by Pujols.