Saturday, April 30, 2011
Rays 2, Angels 1 (10): Three Up, Three Down
By Mark Saxon
For the second time in three games, the Angels lost an extra-inning game by a 2-1 score. This time, they wasted a ninth-inning comeback in Tampa Bay Saturday when Fernando Rodney threw a 10th-inning wild pitch to bring in the winning run.
Bottom feeding. It's becoming redundant to discuss the way the bottom of the Angels' lineup is carrying the offense. Entering Saturday's games, the Angels' Nos. 6 through 9 hitters led the majors with a .281 average. Saturday the trend continued: Including No. 5 hitter Howie Kendrick, the bottom of the lineup had all but one of the Angels' seven hits.
Happy return. There's not a lot to complain about regarding the Angels' pitching rotation. Joel Pineiro returned from a month-long shoulder injury and gave the Angels seven efficient innings. He only allowed four hits and used his sinker to coax nine groundball outs. Adding Pineiro to a rotation with Jered Weaver and Dan Haren could lead to some good things.
One swing. Torii Hunter hasn't been getting many hits, but he came up with one that nearly pulled out an improbable victory. Hunter led off the ninth inning by lining a ball into the left-field corner for a double -- leading to the tying run scoring. Up to that point, the Angels had done virtually nothing against James Shields, but Hunter's hit got him out of the game.
One pitch. Rodney has been pitching solidly since being demoted to the setup role, but he picked a bad time -- the winning run at third base -- to bounce one past the catcher. Hank Conger had no chance on the 1-and-2 pitch that hit several inches in front of the plate and way inside.
Table setters. If this were a picnic, it would have been bread and water. The top of the order set a meager table. Maicer Izturis, coming back from a strained hamstring, went hitless in five at-bats and Bobby Abreu was 0-for-4. They combined for four strikeouts.
Bad timing. No doubt Peter Bourjos got high-fives in the Angels' dugout when he was thrown out trying to steal after his leadoff single in the eighth inning. The Angels live and die by aggressive base running. It seemed a bit overzealous at the time. Shields was starting to get tired and he eventually walked Alexi Amarista. Bourjos' out on the bases defused a rally before it started.