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Sunday, August 7, 2011
Angels 2, Mariners 1: Three Up, Three Down

By Mark Saxon

ANAHEIM -- Ervin Santana got a standing ovation when he walked off the field in the ninth inning Sunday, two outs short of his third straight complete game.

Santana continued his brilliant run in the Angels' 2-1 win over the Seattle Mariners at Angel Stadium.

The Good:

Groove. Santana has gotten more life on his fastball in the second half, but that hasn't translated to straight-ahead velocity. He's able to throw the ball with better downward action and it's cutting and sinking more. He's been as tough as any starting pitcher in baseball for a couple of weeks, having allowed just three earned runs in his past four starts.

Trumbo-tron. Mark Trumbo hit one of his tape-measure home runs, something he's been doing pretty frequently. This one traveled 471 feet, per ESPN's home run tracker, and rattled around near the flag poles in left-center. Trumbo has hit three home runs that total 1,360 feet on this homestand. That's about one-third of a mile worth of home runs.

Aybar's fielding. The Angels shortstop might combine creativity, athleticism and reliability better than any shortstop in the American League right now. He was all over the place stopping the Mariners from getting on base Sunday. He made a running catch in foul ground in left field and a brilliant play to force a runner at second, but Howie Kendrick dropped it.

The Bad:

Abreu. This slump is getting ugly and it's putting Mike Scioscia in a pickle. The Angels desperately need left-handed hitters and they desperately need Abreu's ability to get on base, but right now he is doing nothing with his bat. He looked awful again Sunday while going 0-for-3 with two strikeouts. He's 16-for-103 (.155) since July 1.

Offense. Yeah, they were facing Felix Hernandez. Yeah, the Mariners have good pitching. But the Angels won two of three games in this series while scoring a total of four runs. Something tells me that won't work in their next venue, Yankee Stadium.

The roster. What, exactly, is Russell Branyan doing on this team? He had all of nine at-bats in July and hasn't played yet in August. Are the Angels keeping him as a security guard?