3 Up, 3 Down: Angels 3, A's 1
May, 23, 2012
By Mark Saxon | ESPNLosAngeles.com
The Angels finally managed to win one of these low-scoring nail biters, a skill they may have to perfect if there's to be any hope for this season.
Alberto Callaspo doubled into the left-field corner in the 11th inning to drive in two runs as the Angels beat the Oakland A's 3-1 Wednesday at Network Associates Coliseum. The Angels improved to 4-9 in one-run games.
Weaver cruises. This is what it's like to pitch for the Angels this season. Jered Weaver made one mistake -- he hung a changeup in the middle of the plate to Seth Smith -- and it meant he wouldn't be the first AL pitcher to seven wins. Weaver absolutely dominated Oakland for eight innings, but -- as Ervin Santana and Dan Haren could have told him -- it's not easy pitching for this offense.
Rookie moment. Kole Calhoun slashed a double to left field and Angels first-base coach Alfredo Griffin made a point of asking the A's for the ball. It was Calhoun's first major-league hit. Things have happened quickly for the former eighth-round pick out of Arizona State. Calhoun forced his way onto the Angels' prospect watch by hitting .324 at Single-A last season and he spent only 43 games at Triple-A before injuries prompted the Angels to call him up. How far will this story go?
Bullpen dominates. Between the addition of Ernesto Frieri, who picked up his first save, the rebound of Jordan Walden and the steadiness of Scott Downs, the back end of the Angels' bullpen suddenly looks bankable for the first time. Those three managed to take over for Weaver without letting Oakland's offense get any hope of awakening. Frieri throws 93 mph, but it looks like he is throwing 100 because of lateral movement. He has struck out 19 batters in 8 2/3 innings as an Angel. Not even Francisco Rodriguez when he first arrived could match that pace.
Missing, inaction. Howie Kendrick has apparently altered his approach in the last couple of seasons, sacrificing some contact for power. His strikeouts surged in tandem with his home run total last season, but so far this season the former is out-pacing the latter. Kendrick has already struck out 40 times, putting him on pace for more than 150. For a guy who has never hit 20 home runs in a season, that would be way too high.
Running nowhere. It is a part of Albert Pujols' game that fits in easily around a Mike Scioscia team: aggressive base running. But when you try to catalyze an offense by taking ridiculous risks, you only exacerbate the problem. Pujols decided to try for third on Kendrys Morales' single to center field in the sixth inning and was out easily. When you give a team outs on the bases, especially easy ones, you're only speeding up the game clock on yourself.
Cooling off. For a supposedly veteran team, the Angels have been uncommonly reliant on two young players lately. And, now that Mike Trout and Mark Trumbo have cooled off, the offense has practically ground to a standstill. Trout and Trumbo have combined for three hits in their past 27 at-bats.