3 up, 3 down: Angels 2, Indians 1
April, 28, 2012
By Mark Saxon | ESPNLosAngeles.com
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.
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.
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.