Wednesday, May 25, 2011
Angels 4, A's 1: Three Up, Three Down
By Mark Saxon
ANAHEIM -- The Angels' offense snapped awake for one loud inning Wednesday night to defeat one of the best pitchers in the league, Oakland's Trevor Cahill. Torii Hunter and Alberto Callaspo both homered during the Angels' three-run fifth inning and Ervin Santana pitched six strong innings in a 4-1 win.
No 'A' in Ervin. But there's an Ervin in the A's... heads. Santana wasn't efficient, but he was stingy, striking out six, to improve his lifetime record to 13-3 with a 1.97 ERA vs. Oakland. He gave the Angels a chance to rally off Oakland ace Trevor Cahill, an unlikely proposition that they somehow pulled off.
A big bat. Ah, so the Angels do have one hitter capable of hitting a baseball into an unplayable area beyond an outfield wall. Hunter has found his groove, at long last. The Angels' cleanup hitter mashed a home run to left-center field in the fifth inning, giving him eight RBIs and two homers in his last six games.
Turning tide. The Angels badly need their least-experienced hitters to grow up fast. Hank Conger, Peter Bourjos and Mark Trumbo each snapped out of a funk to some degree. Conger smacked hard singles to right in his first two at-bats, Bourjos struck out twice but had an RBI infield hit and Trumbo singled to right amid the Angels' fifth-inning rally.
Small ball. The fourth inning was a good microcosm of how feeble this offense often is. After Conger's leadoff single, Alexi Amarista reached on an infield hit -- diving headfirst to beat the pitcher to the first-base bag. After that, Reggie Willits bunted, Bourjos struck out (on a curveball in the middle of the plate) and Erick Aybar hit a dribbler that made it halfway to the pitcher's mound. Wow. Just wow.
K-club. Bourjos is still striking out an alarming rate for a player with his speed and relative lack of power. Entering Wednesday, Adam Dunn and Austin Jackson were the only guys in the AL who had struck out more than the 53 times Bourjos had whiffed. He took a curveball for a called strike three and swung and missed in the fifth for two more. His swing-and-miss rate makes you wonder if he'll ever be an impact hitter.
West is worst? The Angels came into Wednesday batting .230 with runners in scoring position. The A's were hitting .234 in those situations. The Angels went 2-for-8. The A's went 1-for-7. No wonder people on the East Coast can't stay up to watch West Coast games. They're boring.