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Saturday, August 6, 2011
Angels hitting is Ludacris

By Mark Saxon

As I sit in the front row of the Angel Stadium press box writing this, Ludacris is absolutely pounding my ear drums.

The base is throbbing so loudly, it feels like it's regulating the beating of my heart. Maybe this is what Angels hitters feel like when they come up with runners on base this year: hearts pounding to a rhythm not of their choosing (no offense, Ludacris).

Manager Mike Scioscia wasn't particularly critical Saturday of the Angels' at-bats against a rookie right-handed control pitcher named Blake Beavan, who threw 72 strikes en route to buzzing his way through eight innings and beating the Angels 5-1 in a fairly critical game to their playoff hopes.

"I thought we hit the ball better than one run would indicate," Scioscia said.

And that comment met the eyeball test. The Seattle Mariners aren't particularly good, but they made some clutch plays, including a brilliant double play with speedy Erick Aybar running to first in the third inning. But the fact remains that the Angels have slipped into an old, scary habit: failing with men on base, over and over.

In the past two games, the Angels are 3-for-19 with runners in scoring position.

A few questions were asked after the game about whether a lack of run support is bothering rookie starter Tyler Chatwood. The Angels have scored zero runs while he was in the game in half of his last 10 starts.

I'm guessing a 21-year old in the major leagues is too concerned about how he's being perceived as he tries to navigate this incredibly challenging, incredibly exciting experience than he is about what anyone else around him is doing. Jered Weaver or Dan Haren could complain of poor support. Tyler Chatwood can't.

But any Angels pitcher (OK, not Scott Kazmir) could make a good case that he's being left out to dry this year. The Angels rank No. 22 in baseball in runs scored and No. 20 in OPS. Their starters rank No. 2 in ERA.

And, by the way, Scioscia appeared briefly on the Angel Stadium infield, which was filled with Ludacris fans. He was not dancing.