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Sunday, August 14, 2011
Blue Jays 5, Angels 4 (10): Three Up, Three Down

By Mark Saxon

The Angels' two main weaknesses -- an anemic offense and shaky relief pitching -- cost them dearly in a 5-4 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre Sunday. Rookie closer Jordan Walden gave up the tying run in the ninth and Fernando Rodney walked two batters to set up the winning rally an inning later.

The Angels offense, stuck in a brutal slump, had one base runner after the fifth inning.

The Good:

Hunter's swing. For the first time this year, Torii Hunter is swinging like he did for much of last season. He's getting base hits and, when a pitcher makes a mistake, he's hitting it a long way. Hunter connected on a high fastball and sent it soaring into the right-field stands for a two-run home run in the first inning.

First eight. Things actually went according to the Angels' formula. Dan Haren went seven solid innings, setting up the Angels to use their top relievers in the eighth and ninth. Scott Downs held up his end, pitching around two hits, but Walden got hit hard an inning later.

Setting tables. Mike Scioscia is trying some new stuff with his lineups, some of them promising. He plugged Peter Bourjos into the leadoff spot against a left-hander and it produced some action at the top of the lineup. The first four hitters in the Angels' lineup had five of the six hits in the game. That tells you how things went for everybody else.

The Bad:

Kid closer. Hostile environments seem to give Walden problems and that can spell trouble for a closer. Walden has blown eight saves, most in the majors, and six of those have been on the road.

Run drought. Six hits and no walks in 10 innings aren't going to win you a lot of games. It's not an official stat, but the Angels must lead the league in quiet innings. They've slipped into one of those ruts that have cropped up periodically this year and figure to be their downfall.

Aybar's slump. He moves around in the lineup, but wherever Mike Scioscia puts him, he just keeping making outs. This slump is one of the deeper ones you'll ever seen, one hit in his last 39 at-bats. He's basically done nothing in the last four series.