Friday, April 8, 2011
Blue Jays 3, Angels 2: Three Up, Three Down
By Mark Saxon
ANAHEIM, Calif. – The Angels continued to struggle for clutch hits, losing their home opener 3-2 to the Toronto Blue Jays Friday in front of a sellout crowd of 43,853.
Defense. The Angels helped Ervin Santana with crisp fielding, which looks like the most-improved aspect of the team. Peter Bourjos ran all over the outfield in the early innings, catching Jose Molina’s slicing drive in right-center and rushing in to snag Rajai Davis’ sinking liner the next inning. The Angels turned a difficult double play in the seventh, in part because ex-Angel Juan Rivera opted to jog into second base instead of sliding.
Santana’s command. The right-hander pounded the strike zone and the Blue Jays swung early and often, letting him cruise through the first five innings on a minimal pitch count. Santana became the first Angels pitcher to get through the eighth inning. Adam Lind’s double in the sixth inning and Jayson Nix’s solo home run beat Santana (0-1), but he pitched well.
Table setting. The Angels couldn't find a leadoff hitter for the longest time after Chone Figgins left, but that doesn't look like it will be an issue while Maicer Izturis is healthy. Izturis was on base three times Friday and legged out a double when Davis lost the ball after failing to make a diving catch.
The ex-Blue Jay.Vernon Wells hasn’t settled in yet. The Angels highest-paid player left runners in scoring position in the third and fifth innings with strikeouts. Wells, whom the Angels acquired from Toronto in exchange for Rivera and Mike Napoli has three hits in 30 at-bats so far.
S-lumber. The Angels came into Friday’s game hitting .210 with runners in scoring position and, thanks largely to Wells’ evening, that number went down. They had just two hits with RISP. Getting on base and getting them in has been problematic thus far.
Young guys. The Angels are going to have to sink or swim with some young talent and the kids struggled Friday. The bottom of the lineup, Mark Trumbo, Hank Conger and Bourjos, combined to go 2-for-12 with three strikeouts.