Sunday, April 22, 2012
3 Up, 3 Down: Orioles 3, Angels 2 (10)
By Mark Saxon
ANAHEIM -- The Angels continued lurching through the early part of their schedule with a punchless 3-2 loss to the Baltimore Orioles in 10 innings Sunday.
Even after adding superstar Albert Pujols, the Angels are last in the American League in home runs (11) and 12th in slugging percentage.
Haren is Haren. The most encouraging thing to come out of Sunday -- and there weren't that many -- was the arrival of Dan Haren's stuff. After a hot spring, he had struggled through his first three starts. Even in his last start against Oakland, in which he allowed only one run, Haren said he felt far from dominant. On Sunday, he used pinpoint command and his off-speed stuff against an aggressive Baltimore lineup to get nine strikeouts and carry the ball into the eighth inning.
Bouncing back. Going into Sunday, Alberto Callaspo was batting .161. With Mark Trumbo struggling to learn third base, it looks like the Angels again will rely on Callaspo -- their leading hitter last year -- as a frequent contributor once again. Callaspo broke out of his slump with a couple of hits, including the only RBI through seven innings, and got on base three times.
Step forward. No Angel has been more maligned over the past year or so than Vernon Wells, primarily because he has performed so poorly. But when the Angels were baffled by Taiwanese lefty Wei-Yin Chen Sunday, Wells gave them their only real action -- a two-out double in the fourth, which turned into the Angels' first run. He also made a nice catch in the seventh. Mark Renolds' pop-up looked destined to fall as a bloop hit, but Wells came charging in and made a nice basket catch on the move.
Albert the slumping. Just when it looked like Albert Pujols was about to bust out of his sluggish start with Thursday's three-double game, this happens. Pujols went hitless (11 at-bats) in the Baltimore series and is now batting .246 with zero home runs and four RBIs. No matter what anyone says, Pujols' inability to get in an early groove has been the biggest anchor on the offense.
Hunter the hunting. While we're on the topic of power outages in the middle of the order, where has Torii Hunter's power gone? Not only has he yet to homer this season, he didn't hit one all spring. It's a bit puzzling why Mike Scioscia continues to run him out as the cleanup hitter against left-handed pitching. Does he still think it would be too much pressure on Mark Trumbo? Hunter generally has been contributing with hits and walks, but he had a rough day Sunday, going 0-for-3 with a couple of strikeouts.
Inheritance tax. Scott Downs has been one of the few reliable relievers, but he came into a difficult spot -- two on, one out -- and made it worse by giving up a pair of hits, one bloop, one solid line drive. That let in both of Haren's runners. Angels relievers have inherited 26 runners and allowed 12 of them to score. That's part of the reason Angels starters had a 4.23 ERA entering Sunday, ninth in the AL.