Sunday, April 15, 2012
3 Up, 3 Down: Yankees 11, Angels 5
By Mark Saxon
NEW YORK -- The Los Angeles Angels have lost each of their first three series, a drab start to a season with so many high hopes.
Pitcher Jerome Williams struggled in his season debut and the Angels' offense couldn't quite overcome it in Sunday's 11-5 loss at Yankee Stadium. The Angels are in last place, already 4 1/2 games behind the Texas Rangers 10 days into the season.
Spring cycle: Howie Kendrick tends to do this, snapping out of slumps in spectacular ways. He was benched in the first game of this series because of an 0-for-12 stretch, but has gone 6-for-10 since. Sunday he fell a home run shy of the cycle, pounding a triple off the center-field wall in the first, doubling to right in the fifth and bunting for a single in the seventh.
Pushing hard: Mark Trumbo doesn't have a position, but he does have a hot bat. One of those two propositions is going to have to give. Trumbo is hitting the ball harder, more consistently, than any other Angels hitter. He mashed a towering home run to left-center and is batting .375. He's even walking, something he rarely did a year ago. It looks like he might be morphing into a more complete hitter, but can the Angels get him in their plans?
Catching fire: At this point, Chris Iannetta looks like as decent a choice as anybody to protect Albert Pujols. He leads the Angels in extra-base hits after smashing a fifth-inning two-run home run off Ivan Nova. The Angels' previous No. 1 catcher, Jeff Mathis, didn't pick up his sixth extra-base hit until May 31, Game No. 31. Iannetta could get there in Game 10 if he hits a double, triple or home run Monday night.
Slow start: Williams readily admitted he was nervous about pitching his first game at Yankee Stadium, on ESPN and on Jackie Robinson Day. But he didn't show it in the first inning, breezing through the first three Yankees hitters. Things quickly unraveled after that, however, with Williams lasting less than three innings in his season debut and, once again, raising questions about the back of the rotation.
Cleanup mess: First, Kendrys Morales, now Torii Hunter. The guys who hit behind Albert Pujols have been taking turns slumping. Morales was benched after going 1-for-23 with seven strikeouts and Hunter is making scant contact lately. He went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts and has yet to drive a ball this season.
Scant relief: On the New York Mets, Hisanori Takahashi was a versatile and valuable pitcher, making some good starts, pitching solidly in middle relief and even closing at times. In two seasons with the Angels, he hasn't found a role that suits him and he certainly hasn't performed well. The Angels' offense showed some life as the game wore on, but thanks to Takahashi's rough outing -- three runs in two innings -- it never quite mattered.