3 Up, 3 Down: Angels 4, Mariners 2
May, 27, 2012
By Mark Saxon | ESPNLosAngeles.com
The Angels are on a serious roll heading into their most challenging homestand this season.
They beat the Seattle Mariners 4-2 Sunday to cap a four-game sweep and win their sixth in a row. They come home to face the New York Yankees and Texas Rangers now encamped in second place in the AL West.
Power returns. Getting Albert Pujols going was Item No. 1 on the Angels' to-do list, but seeing more production out of Kendrys Morales wasn't far behind. The most exciting dynamic for this team is a possible 1-2-3 power punch in the middle of the lineup, with vintage Pujols backed up by Morales in 2010 form and an up-and-coming Mark Trumbo. Morales homered and doubled, snapping a two-week long drought in extra-base hits.
Power returns. When Trumbo hits a home run, you know it as soon as you hear it. If he makes solid contact, it tends to leave the stadium, any stadium. He caught a hanging changeup in the seventh inning -- on an 0-and-2 count -- and launched it off the facade of the second deck in left field. For both Morales and Trumbo, it was their first home run since May 13.
Speeding ticket. These days,a couple of batters in the top one-third of the Angels' order are practically in scoring position at the plate. Albert Pujols has been doing it with home runs. Mike Trout has been doing it by getting on base and creating havoc with his legs. In his first two plate appearances, he got on base and promptly stole second base. One of them set up the Angels' first run. Trout, who has only been up for a month, already has eight stolen bases.
Old habits. The Angels are facing such bad offenses lately, their pitchers can appear to cruise at about 80 percent and still dominate. C.J. Wilson continued his strong start with six innings of two-hit baseball, but he couldn't take it any further because he appeared to injure a finger on his pitching hand trying to stop a ground ball up the middle. When he did the same thing in spring training, Wilson called it a bad habit. It could prove costly if he has to miss a start or more.
The Angels have a good thing going. Their starting pitchers had a 2.38 ERA on this 10-game trip against three of the worst-hitting teams in recent memory.
0-fer Aybar. The Angels are hot without actually being hot. A few hitters in their lineup have turned it up, the pitching has been great and they've been playing bad teams. Voila, winning streak. But against the next two opponents, they'll need a little more offensive depth. Guys like Erick Aybar (one for his last 16) need to get into a better rhythm.
Figgins' fall. Remember how good Chone Figgins was for the Angels three years ago, when he had a .395 on-base percentage and stole 42 bases? What happened to that guy. Figgins struggled so badly last year (.188), he mostly sat on the bench in the final months. This year, he's worse (.180). Rumors have it he's soon to be released.