Thursday, April 26, 2012
3 Up, 3 Down: Rays 4, Angels 3
By Mark Saxon
Every time it seems things can't get much worse for this team, they do.
The Angels' offense, otherwise known as Mark Trumbo, finally managed to eke out a small lead, but closer Jordan Walden blew it by allowing a two-run, walk-off home run to pinch-hitter Brandon Allen as the Angels were swept out of Tampa Bay.
After Thursday's 4-3 loss, the Angels have lost four in a row and seven of their last nine.
Big bat. How can Mike Scioscia continue to justify periodically benchingTrumbo when he's the only catalyst right now? When the Angels were doing nothing against hard-throwing young lefty Matt Moore, Trumbo broke the ice with a solo home run and he had the key, an RBI double, during their two-run rally in the sixth. It doesn't matter where Trumbo plays, only that he plays.
By example. Torii Hunter probably ruffled a few feathers with his postgame comments Wednesday when he told reporters the Angels were "going through the motions." He also said his comments applied to "not just the players," which could be taken as a swipe at Scioscia. The comments seemed well timed, but even more important was Hunter's single through the right side to spark the go-ahead rally in the sixth.
Solid start. Jerome Williams did a little spin move, leaving the mound after his inning-ending strikeout of B.J. Upton in the sixth. After a shaky start to his season at Yankee Stadium, Williams has given the Angels some stability at the back of their rotation. Now, if Ervin Santana can stop giving up all those home runs, the Angels might have the dominating rotation everybody figured they would.
Bullpen blues. You can put it on the offense all you want, but at some point this bullpen needs to prove it can protect a slim lead. Walden has had spotty work all season and maybe that was the reason he left a fastball in a bad spot, low and inside to a power-hitting lefty. Either that, or maybe Walden just isn't ready for this role? Considering Scott Downs had gotten four quick outs and has been the only reliable reliever two years in a row, is he a candidate to close?
Still slumping. Who knows, maybe the little jam-shot single Albert Pujols hit will get his bat going. But -- indicative of the way things are going -- Pujols was out trying to stretch it into a double. And by the way, he's now gone 76 at-bats without a home run, rapidly approaching Willie McCovey's record for 400-homer hitters who went to a new team. It took McCovey 87 at-bats to hit his first one for the San Diego Padres.
Slow going. People seem to assume that either Torii Hunter or Vernon Wells will have to give ground if the Angels call up their top prospect, Mike Trout. But right now, it looks like the most likely candidate to lose his job is center fielder Peter Bourjos, who is batting .178 in 45 at-bats. Bourjos did draw a walk, but it was only his second all season. Would the Angels be better off optioning Bourjos to Triple-A and seeing if Trout can spark them from the leadoff spot? They might lose a bit of defense, but it's not like Trout is a slouch in center field.