3 up, 3 down: Angels 2, Indians 1

April, 28, 2012
4/28/12
4:54
PM PT


The Angels finally figured out a way to win a low-scoring game: limit the exposure to their bullpen.

Dan Haren pitched eight strong innings to pick up his first win of the season and newly appointed closer Scott Downs managed to pitch a drama-free ninth as the Angels got by Cleveland 2-1 in a game delayed by nearly two-and-a-half hours due to rain.

The Good:

Hungry Hunter. Why does it feel like Groundhog Day? Maybe because Saturday's report is virtually identical to Friday's, aside from the game's end. The Angels scratched a run across in the first. Torii Hunter tacked on a solo home run. Instead of getting four hits, they got five. It was another pillow fight, but Hunter has been doing his best to will this team out of its rut.

Staying power. Normally, Mike Scioscia would probably be a little more conservative this early with his starters' pitch counts, but Friday he let Jered Weaver throw 115 and he extended Haren to 119 Saturday. It's hard to blame him since Downs is the only reliever who won't cause heart palpitations for the dugout and fans watching from home.

Mike Trout. OK, so the phenom was 0-for-4 with a strikeout and, so far, the only level he hasn't excelled at is the major leagues. But it's refreshing to see the Angels try something new, particularly at the leadoff spot after Erick Aybar relentlessly struggled to get on base.

The Bad:

84 at-bats. That's how long Albert Pujols' homer-less streak has gone. Five or six more games and he would set his all-time record for at-bats without going deep. It's kind of silly to obsess about this streak, particularly when the Angels win, but it's also hard not to.

Bourjos' bat. Peter Bourjos just hasn't been able to get in a groove at the plate. He proved last year that he's capable of settling in, but the strikeouts are piling up once again in the early weeks of a season. He had a couple more Saturday and is hitting .167. It would be a shame to take his glove off the field, but if he can't scrape together a little more production, he might find Trout getting much of his playing time.

General funk. Coming out of spring training, it would have been impossible to envision this deep a collective slump. The Angels have scored 11 runs in their last six games. It doesn't really matter what pitcher they're facing. They ran into some very good arms in Tampa, but Justin Masterson had been struggling and Jeanmar Gomez had just joined Cleveland's rotation. Pitchers must be tripping all over themselves to get at this Angels lineup right now.

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

WINS LEADER
Garrett Richards
WINS ERA SO IP
11 2.74 143 144
OTHER LEADERS
BAM. Trout .299
HRM. Trout 24
RBIM. Trout 76
RM. Trout 74
OPSM. Trout .970
ERAG. Richards 2.74
SOG. Richards 143