Wednesday, August 3, 2011
Twins 11, Angels 4: Three Up, Three Down
By Mark Saxon
ANAHEIM -- The Angels missed an opportunity to pull into a first-place tie with the Texas Rangers thanks largely to Joel Pineiro's freefall gaining a little more momentum. The Minnesota Twins got Pineiro out of the game in the fifth inning and kept pounding away in an 11-4 win at Angel Stadium Wednesday night.
Feeling it. Before the game, Peter Bourjos said Tuesday night was the best he had felt at the plate all season. His comfort zone continued with a home run off Scott Baker in the third inning, a hooking line drive into the left-field corner. Bourjos is rapidly becoming one of the Angels' most important players, his bat starting to catch up to his slick fielding.
Hunter helps. Torii Hunter has played Gold Glove-caliber right field, but the Angels need him to drive in runs (he was batting .147 since the All-Star break going into Wednesday). Hunter came up in a clutch spot in the third inning and yanked a two-run single into left field, later adding another hit. Now, he needs to sustain a hot streak for a week or two and the Angels might be able to ride it somewhere good.
Refreshed reliever. It came in the wake-me-when-it's-over portion of the game, so you could be forgiven for missing it, but Fernando Rodney was good again. He has pitched three times since coming off the disabled list and has yet to give up a run, or even a base runner that didn't reach on an infield hit. Maybe he's become the third-option reliever the Angels have been searching for all season. Maybe.
Slip and slide. Where, oh where, has Joel Pineiro's sinker gone? The Angels could soon be scrambling for an alternative in their rotation if Pineiro continues to struggle so badly. In his last four starts, he has a 14.85 ERA and has struck out a grand total of two batters. The five home runs in those four starts might be the most troubling, since Pineiro lives on ground balls.
Greetings. Pineiro's outing wouldn't have looked quite as disastrous if reliever Hisanori Takahashi's first pitch to Michael Cuddyer hadn't gone sailing deep into the night. Cuddyer's grand slam wiped out the Angels' comeback of a couple innings earlier. Here's one problem with pulling Pineiro from the rotation: Takahashi is the main alternative. Later in the game, Jason Kubel darted a line drive into the right-field stands off the underwhelming lefty.
Bobby's bat. It's probably a good guess that this is the worst slump of Bobby Abreu's long and borderline-great career. Since July 1, he's got 15 hits in 92 at-bats (.163). Soon, Mike Scioscia is going to have to consider moving him from the middle of the lineup. That might be soon as in the next 15 minutes.