Monday, April 9, 2012
3 Up, 3 Down: Angels 5, Twins 1
By Mark Saxon
The Angels won their first road game of the season and C.J. Wilson won his first game as an Angel as they beat the winless Minnesota Twins 5-1 Monday afternoon.
Hard-nosed play. Erick Aybar is far from an intimidating figure at 5-foot-10 and 180 pounds, but that doesn't mean he isn't tough. He plays the game with an old-school edge that is among his most important intangible assets. The Angels never would have scored two first-inning runs if their shortstop hadn't gone well out of the base path to take out Alexi Casilla and prevent Albert Pujols' grounder from being a routine, inning-ending double play.
The tightrope. Typically, walking four batters is the recipe for a rough outing, but Wilson was able to overcome some shaky command, largely thanks to groundballs, one of his fortes. Of the 21 outs he recorded, 14 were on the ground -- including two double plays. Wilson has never had the most pinpoint command, but his stuff looks crisp and he's pitching with confidence.
Veteran's day. Just when it looked like there was no role for Bobby Abreu, the 37-year old is carving out one for himself. He has started half the Angels' games so far and, suddenly, he's playing like it's 2009 again. Abreu was on base twice, including on a key double in the first inning, drove in a run and scored one. As bad as Vernon Wells has looked, Abreu seems capable of eking out some playing time for himself in left field.
Not quite there. The Angels' best player hasn't quite looked comfortable in the batter's box and, considering Albert Pujols struggled early last year, that's worth noting. Pujols seemed to be trying to pull some outside pitches and the result was a bunch of groundballs to the third baseman. He was 0-for-4 and is batting .214 on the young season.
Chemistry experiment. The Angels still haven't found a consistent offensive chemistry, judging by the fact pedestrian right-hander Nick Blackburn retired 15 consecutive batters at one point. A lot of the damage came from the lower half of the lineup, specifically catcher Chris Iannetta's two-run double.
Wells situation. Not to pick on Wells, but he has five strikeouts in his first 14 at-bats and reportedly met with manager Mike Scioscia briefly before the game. He didn't play every day by the end of 2011 and, unless he starts producing, his playing time likely will be more sporadic.