Saturday, August 27, 2011
Angels 8, Rangers 4: Three Up, Three Down
By Mark Saxon
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Ervin Santana pitched a solid game on three days' rest, the bats came alive and the Angels evened their crucial series against the first-place Rangers with an 8-4 win at the Ballpark in Arlington Saturday night. The win trims Texas' AL West lead to two games with ace Jered Weaver scheduled to go on three days' rest in Sunday's series finale.
Power ball. As usual, the Angels relied on the long ball. OK, that was a joke. The Angels, 10th in the AL in home runs coming in, tied a season high with five long balls Saturday, four of them off Texas ace C.J. Wilson. Unfortunately for them, all five of them were solo shots, so this game retained a lot more drama than you would have expected.
Thawing. At long, long last, Vernon Wells is emerging from a brutal slump. He is swinging as well as he has since before the All-Star break. Wells, who is from Arlington, went 2-for-4 with a triple and home run and is 9 for his last 17 (.529) in a span of five games. If he can hitch a hot streak to what Torii Hunter is doing, the Angels could have a semblance of continuity in the middle of their order, finally.
Hatchling. Mike Trout turned 20 less than three weeks ago and he's already got three major-league home runs. The young fellow continues to carve a role for himself in this pennant race by producing on the big stage. He took Wilson deep to give the Angels a 3-0 lead and he reached on an infield hit an inning later. His talent is starting to play at this level.
Hatchling. As good as Trout is, you can't hide the fact that he has only been playing professional baseball for two years. Ian Kinsler took advantage of his inexperience on a gift sacrifice fly by bluffing a break for home, then going through with it when Trout hesitated. Trout made a mistake and threw to third -- too late to get Elvis Andrus, who also advanced on the play.
Zeal. When Wells got thrown out after rounding third on Trout's infield single to Andrus, third-base coach Dino Ebel gave him a fist pound as if to say, "My bad." Apparently, Ebel either thought the ball was headed for the outfield or that Andrus would throw to first. He waved Wells all the way. The Angels almost seem to celebrate mistakes of aggression.
Efficiency. The Angels have been around for 50 years and only once before had they ever had five players hit solo home runs in a game, in 1985. It was the first time the Angels had hit five solo shots in a game since 2000, when Mo Vaughn and Tim Salmon each had two.