Saturday, July 2, 2011
Angels 7, Dodgers 1: Three Up, Three Down
By Pedro Moura
ANAHEIM -- Behind yet another great performance from right-hander Jered Weaver and timely hitting throughout their order off of Clayton Kershaw, the Angels evened up a weekend series with the Dodgers after a 7-1 win.
Weaver's All-Star starter candidacy. The Angels' ace was dominant Saturday, just as he has been almost every five days throughout this 2011 season. He struck out eight Dodgers and allowed only six baserunners in his eight innings of work, barely even needing to pitch out of any jams. But when he did get in some trouble -- like in the fourth, when Matt Kemp came to the plate with runners on first and second and one out -- he induced the grounders or popouts he needed. He got his 10th win and lowered his ERA to 1.92, best in the American League among starting pitchers. Weaver seems the likely pick to start the All-Star Game in Phoenix, especially since the other top candidate, Detroit's Justin Verlander, is scheduled to pitch the Sunday before.
Vernon Wells' power. Now, this wasn't all good -- Wells did take a few big swings and come up empty against Kershaw. But he had one key cut that rattled the Dodgers left-hander and boosted the Angels' offense. In the third inning, he hit a 94-mile-per-hour fastball from Kershaw deep into the left-field stands on a 2-and-0 pitch, giving the Angels a 3-0 lead. One inning later, though, he swung and missed on a same-situation fastball and ended up popping out. He finished the day 1-for-4 with a strikeout.
Taking advantage of miscues. Friday, it was the Dodgers who were capitalizing on errors and miscommunication from the opponents' infield. Saturday, the Angels switched things around, particularly exploiting young Dodgers shortstop Dee Gordon. The Angels' first run came directly off a Gordon mistake, when he decided to throw home in an attempt to get Jeff Mathis rather than get the sure out at first in Maicer Izturis. Then, in the sixth inning, Gordon threw a two-out grounder that sailed on James Loney at first, allowing Peter Bourjos to bring in an insurance run.
Making the pitchers work. A game like Saturday's allows you to see how poor the Angels really are at stretching out counts and making opposing starters work. Even on a day where Kershaw clearly didn't have his best stuff and the Angels were hitting, they still allowed him to go a full six innings before giving way to Kenley Jansen and Hong-Chih Kuo. He has been better this year, but in previous years Kershaw struggled to make it that deep into outings when he's not cruising. When the Angels get an opportunity to hit around a pitcher, especially one of Kershaw's quality, they must fully seize it and get him out of the game early.
Izturis and Mark Trumbo. The right side of the Angels' infield combined to go 0-for-9 at the plate. Izturis, hitting leadoff, didn't hit a single ball out of the infield and struck out twice. Trumbo, hitting sixth, did muster a flyout to center in the seventh but also struck out twice and looked largely confused against Kershaw. Luckily for them, the other seven Angels hitters all produced hits and went a combined 10-for-22.
Peter Bourjos' detractors. The young Angels center fielder continued his recent run with an impressive day Saturday, reaching base three times and stealing his ninth base of the year. Since he came up to the big leagues last August, the book on Bourjos has been that he's a more-than-capable outfielder but a not-capable hitter. With his average now up to .268, he's getting to the point where that book might have to be changed a little bit. Angels manager Mike Scioscia also said before the game he has been approached by managers and coaches all across the league praising Bourjos' defensive capabilities, too.