3 Up, 3 Down: Angels 3, Dodgers 2
June, 11, 2012
By Mark Saxon | ESPNLosAngeles.com
LOS ANGELES -- The Angels continued their yearly romp through the National League, beating the Dodgers 3-2 Monday night in the opening game of the Freeway Series at Dodger Stadium. If the Angels win one more game in the next two nights, they will have won 11 of their last 12 series against the NL and 10 of their last 13 games against the Dodgers.
Tropical fish. Mike Trout's at-bats now are generating the kind of excitement the Angels thought they would see when Albert Pujols came to the plate. Trout continues to tear up both leagues during this torrid month-plus. He has 15 hits in his last 29 at-bats with 12 runs and six stolen bases. Trout figures to qualify for the batting race within the next two weeks and, by the time he does, he just might be leading it. He also might lead the league in steals by then. He's tied with Jason Kipnis for the lead right now. Pretty good for a 20-year old, right?
Albert delivers. Not too long ago, it would have been automatic. Open base with two outs late in a tie game. You walk Albert Pujols, right? But Pujols has struggled much of this season and Mark Trumbo is emerging as a force batting behind him, so the Dodgers pitched to Pujols. He didn't exactly kill Kenley Jansen's pitch, but he cracked his bat and hit a sinking liner to left-center field for a single to drive in Trout with the winning run.
Sticking around. The way things were going for Garrett Richards for a while, it looked like he might be in for a short night, the kind that can tax a bullpen. Instead, he kept the wheels from flying off, pitching around five walks to get through five innings before getting lifted for a pinch hitter. He showed good stuff, with a lively 96 mph fastball and looks, at this point like a far better rotation option than Ervin Santana. The Angels will have to choose between them when Jered Weaver returns next week.
Sloppy start. When the game started, it almost looked like the Angels weren't ready. Richards walked the leadoff guy. He tried to pick off Elian Herrera, who had doubled, and threw to center field, where Trout promptly overran it for the second error on the play. The Dodgers got off to a quick 2-0 lead thanks to the Angels. Had they played a little more crisply early, this game might not have dragged on all night.
Abreu's "hard feelings." Why all the stories going into this series about how Bobby Abreu isn't mad at the Angels for releasing him? They are paying him $9 million to play baseball -- for another team, where he has a better opportunity. What were they going to do, keep the 37-year old on the bench so Trout could continue to tear up Triple-A and leave them without a spark? Please.
Pace of play. If you're going to play for nearly four hours, you should get at least 14 innings in or score at least 20 runs, shouldn't you? Somehow, these teams managed to stretch a 3-2 regulation game over three hours and 59 minutes. How? Combination of Sam Holbrook's puny strike zone, hitters working counts and pitchers taking plenty of time between pitches.