Sunday, April 22, 2012
When will this team finally show up?
By Mark Saxon
Games keep going by, weeks are now passing, and the Angels are on hold, waiting for the team they thought they had to show up.
They figured they had massive doses of power after adding Albert Pujols and getting Kendrys Morales back. After Sunday's 3-2 loss to the Baltimore Orioles, not only are they still waiting for Pujols' first home run, they're still waiting for their second home run from any No. 3 or 4 hitter. They're last in the AL in home runs and seven of the nine guys in the lineup Sunday started the game with either zero or one.
They figured they had the kind of starting pitching to chew through stretches of the schedule. Half of the Big Four -- Dan Haren and Ervin Santana -- has yet to win a game yet, though Haren deserved to on Sunday.
They didn't have massive amounts of confidence in the bullpen, but they also didn't expect it to blow virtually every close game it inherited.
The only thing the Angels (6-10) really have on their side right now is time and, given baseball's endless schedule, that's not a bad ally to have. But at what point does it start to betray you?
"We don't want to dig ourselves too deep a hole, but the track records and the talent, it's going to take over at some point," Haren said. "We've just got to go out and just win that one game. We're not trying to win 10 games in a row here. We're just trying to win the next game."
Maybe that's the problem. After a winter of hype and a sizzling spring, maybe the Angels thought they could strut into a soft early schedule and pile up wins on cruise control. They've played five series so far, only one against a team that had a winning record last year, and lost all but one of them.
Sixteen games into the season, they have yet to win three games in a row. They hadn't won consecutive games until Saturday night and, going for No. 3, they played a virtually silent game on Sunday. Other than Vernon Wells' double and Howie Kendrick's home run, they barely hit a ball hard against Taiwanese pitcher Wei-Yin Chen and a Baltimore bullpen that was 13th in the league in ERA last year.
"We didn't pressure them at all," manager Mike Scioscia said.
No, they didn't. But if things keep up like this, there will be plenty of pressure to go around.