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Monday, April 11, 2011
Indians 4, Angels 0: Three Up, Three Down

By Mark Saxon

ANAHEIM, Calif. – Tyler Chatwood, a 21-year-old right-hander, looked shaky in the early innings of his major-league debut and Mitch Talbot stymied the Angels for eight innings in a 4-0 loss to the streaking Cleveland Indians Monday night.

The Good:

The Indians. Cleveland won the season series from the Angels last year and they’ve started 2011 in a hurry. Cleveland won its eighth straight game. The Indians are averaging nearly six runs per game. They've got some good young players and it's starting to show.

New guys. Francisco Rodriguez was a tough-luck cut in spring training, especially since he’d pitched solidly for the Angels in 43 games last year. He made his return to the big leagues a good one with two scoreless innings. Lefty Scott Downs came off the disabled list, where he spent a couple of weeks with a broken toe, and pitched a breezy eighth inning.

Nerve. Before the game, Angels manager Mike Scioscia called Chatwood a "makeup guy." He meant that the youngster wasn't going to be intimidated by the atmosphere, and Chatwood showed some signs of toughness. He walked the bases loaded in the fifth inning, but managed to get Shin-Soo Choo to hit into a double play to get out of it. It wasn't a great debut, but it wasn't disastrous either.

The Bad:

Nerves. Chatwood isn’t going anywhere. The Angels need starting pitchers and he's the best option they’ve got right now. He looked a little jumpy in his first major-league start, which is understandable. He walked four batters in five innings and threw nearly as many balls (44) as strikes (46). The big blow was Matt LaPorta’s opposite-field three-run home run in the second inning.

Easy outs. No, that wasn’t Greg Maddux. It was Talbot, a 27-year-old right-hander who entered Monday’s game with an 11-13 record and 4.78 ERA in a three-year career. The Angels looked baffled by his high-80s sinker and occasional off-speed pitches. The Angels didn’t get a runner to second base until the fifth inning. They didn’t get a runner past second base all night.

Who else? It’s becoming a daily tradition to include Vernon Wells in this category, and he kept it alive by continuing his early spiral. Wells now has four hits in 44 at-bats since he joined the Angels. Wells would have to hit .464 for the next couple of weeks to be hitting .300 after his first 100 Angels at-bats.