Some ragged starting pitching near the back of the Angels' rotation has slowed down their roll.
For the third straight game, the Angels got a shaky start -- this time from rookie Garrett Richards -- and lost 11-2 to the Toronto Blue Jays.
Maicer's might. Remember all those big hits Maicer Izturis used to get? This season, he hasn't just slumped, batting .230, but his power literally has disappeared. He hasn't homered yet and Saturday he hit just his sixth double. He had 35 of those last year. Granted, he hasn't been playing as much as last year, but a measure of improvement from Izturis -- if he can become the solid bench player he once was -- wouldn't hurt the Angels' cause.
Ever heard of... Andrew Romine is a 26-year-old minor league infielder who has been getting tastes of the major leagues since 2010. He is an excellent defender, can play better than adequate shortstop and switch hits. If the Angels didn't have two guys who make him redundant -- Maicer Izturis and Alberto Callaspo -- he'd probably be on the team all year. Still, it was nice to see him have a little success, going 3-for-4.
Action. The Angels didn't score much, but they had action in four of the nine innings and had a respectable 10 hits. While they're not quite as hot as they were when this trip started, it doesn't feel as if they've slipped back into the offensive morass that settled into this team for long stretches of 2010, 2011 and this April. Now, if they can just get better production from starters not named Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson, they should be OK.
Blow to the cause. If Richards is going to stay in the Angels' rotation, he'll need to bounce back in his next start -- and there probably will be at least one. The Angels are about to have six healthy starters when Jerome Williams returns, probably before the All-Star break. Richards (2-1, 2.81 ERA) has excellent overall numbers, but Saturday he got hit around (nine hits, 10 runs, five earned). When you're as young as Richards, you don't get too many second chances.
Streak ends. Mike Trout tapered off at the end of a brilliant June, getting one hit in his last nine at-bats. It probably falls under the no-biggie category, but Saturday's 0-for-4 snapped his 11-game hitting streak. He left a couple of guys on base. Trout has set such a high bar for himself so quickly, you wonder if the pressure will begin to build.
Canadian hospitality. Toronto has proven a difficult matchup for the Angels, even when injuries have depleted its roster (like now). The Angels had a miserable 12-inning loss in the fourth game of their last trip to Toronto at the end of 2011 and, now, they have to win Sunday just to salvage a four-game split. Last September's trip north imperiled the Angels' chances. This one could imperil their momentum.