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Saturday, April 14, 2012
3 up, 3 down: Angels 7, Yankees 1

By Mark Saxon

NEW YORK -- The Angels got a much-needed respite from their early-season struggles with a well-rounded 7-1 win over the New York Yankees on a beautiful Saturday in the Bronx.

The Good:

Rising ace. The Angels have only gotten three quality starts so far and two of them have been C.J. Wilson's work. The hitters gave him early runs again and the lefty took them and ran with it. Wilson (2-0) works efficiently, fields his position well -- except for a rushed throw to Albert Pujols that resulted in an error -- and isn't afraid to pitch aggressively inside. One reason you have three aces is you're hoping one of them will be a stopper at all times. Right now, it's Wilson.

Slump busters. Howie Kendrick was 0-for-the roadtrip (12 at-bats) coming into this game and Vernon Wells was... Well, I think we all know how things have been going for him lately. Saturday was a breakout game for both players. Kendrick had three hits -- including a no-doubt three-run home run into the left-field seats -- and Wells became the first Angel to hit his second home run. Oh, and a guy named Albert Pujols, who was hitting .222 coming in, went 2-for-5 with a double and an RBI.

Lead holds! Did the Angels simply find the comfort level for their bullpen -- a six-run lead -- or was Saturday a genuine step forward for the weakest area of the team? Kevin Jepsen, who had a miserable outing in Minnesota, breezed through the heart of New York's order in the seventh and LaTroy Hawkins and Jordan Walden, getting a little work, tidied up the last two innings nicely.

The Bad:

Still squirming. Before the game, Kendrys Morales admitted he's far from comfortable at the plate. Nothing that happened a couple of hours later indicated he's getting any more at ease. Morales went 0-for-5 to extend his slump to 1-for-23 with seven strikeouts. He still seems like the logical cleanup hitter, but he won't be for long if this keeps up. Of course, that leads us to...

Missing pop? Has Torii Hunter's bat slowed down now that he's 36? He has hustled his way to two doubles this season, but otherwise all of his hits are singles. That wouldn't feel like a pattern this early if he had been crushing balls in spring training. He never homered in Arizona. Hunter struck out three times Saturday.

Just missing. The last thing Peter Bourjos wants to do is strike out. It's such a waste of his brilliant speed. But being more patient hasn't necessarily helped him get on base as he struggles to learn the skills of a leadoff hitter. He struck out three times, twice looking, and now is tied with Wells for the team lead in strikeouts (eight). With Bourjos, strikeouts are the stat to watch.