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Tuesday, July 26, 2011
Angels 2, Indians 1: Three Up, Three Down

By Mark Saxon

The Angels looked like they were trapped in the same game two nights in a row before closer Jordan Walden pitched out of a bases-loaded, nobody-out jam in the bottom of the ninth inning and they escaped with a 2-1 win over the Cleveland Indians at Jacobs Field.

The Good:

Redemption. Walden is young and wild enough to create messes this big two nights in a row and he's talented enough to, sometimes, make them go away. After Cleveland loaded the bases, Walden got a chopper to Howie Kendrick for a 4-2-3 double play, then he struck out the guy who had the game-winning, two-out hit Monday night, Jason Kipnis. Imagine how good that must have felt to Walden. After the strikeout, he pounded his chest twice.

Weaver's perch. Jered Weaver is having a year worthy of some of the great pitchers from the 1960s. He somehow keeps lowering a sub-2.00 ERA. Weaver wasn't at his most dominant, but that's splitting hairs. He hasn't lost since May 18 and he has 14-4 with a 1.79 ERA. Somebody might still beat him out for the Cy Young, but it's looking more inevitable every time he pitches.

Hard right. Mark Trumbo looked awful in his first two at-bats, but this is why you just let power hitters keep swinging. Trumbo crushed a two-run double, a ball that missed clearing the right-field fence by about two feet, to provide the Angels' only offense against Josh Tomlin in the seventh inning.

The Bad:

Wood rot. The Angels are among a handful of West Coast teams making this look like another dead-ball era. They go long stretches without even scaring home plate. Most vexing for pitchers, they rarely support them early. Tuesday was the 37th time the Angels have gone through five innings without scoring.

One-way player. Even if Jeff Mathis deserves credit for some of Weaver's success, can the Angels afford to continue running him out there every night? Like Weaver, he continues to whittle away at a pretty tiny number, his .183 batting average. It's rare to see a guy hitting that poorly this late in a season. Meanwhile, the team's best-hitting catcher, Hank Conger, is hitting meaningless home runs at Triple-A.

The outfield glut. The Angels have seen enough from top prospect Mike Trout to ponder whether he's ready to stick in the major leagues, but he's not going to get any better sitting and watching games, even from up close. A trade rumor regarding Peter Bourjos popped up out of Washington Tuesday, which could explain why Trout is still around.