Sunday, April 29, 2012
3 Up, 3 Down: Indians 4, Angels 0
By Mark Saxon
The Angels are in a hitting slump of staggering proportions.
They managed just three hits in a 4-0 loss to Derek Lowe and the Cleveland Indians and have scored 11 runs in their last seven games, in which they are 1-6. The Angels (7-15) collected a total of 12 hits in the three games in Cleveland and have won just one series since the season began.
A good start. Ervin Santana finally managed to keep the ball inside the park and he easily pitched well enough to pick up his first win with May just around the corner. But a Torii Hunter two-run error -- he lost a ball in the sun -- and paltry run support did him in. Still, pitching at the scene of his 2011 no-hitter, Santana (0-5) seemed to channel the form of late last season and maybe that will help him get on track.
Scoring change. Major League Baseball instituted new guidelines for official scorers this season, allowing them to charge an error on balls that fielders don't get a glove on. No way a harmless fly ball should have cost Santana two earned runs. Small consolation, but some consolation.
Kendrys' bat. OK, a couple of harmless singles hardly feels worthy of major praise, but the bar is set pretty low for this offense right now. Kendrys Morales isn't exactly killing the ball, but it just feels like he's one of the best nine hitters on the team right now and he probably should be playing a little more than he has been.
The flub. When you score as little as the Angels do, mistakes aren't magnified, they're super-sized. Hunter's error was his 36th in 16 seasons. You can't call it the pivotal moment, because the Angels would have lost anyway. They didn't score any runs.
The slump. Instead of detailing it every day, we should just run a chart. Albert Pujols has now gone his first 88 at-bats without hitting a home run and, lately, he's not hitting anything. Pujols is batting .216. It's starting to look like a painful mental grind, somewhat along the lines of what Adam Dunn and Carl Crawford went through last year after switching teams.
The strikeout. Sometimes, it just takes one swing to snap a team out of its funk. Howie Kendrick had a golden opportunity to change everything after the Angels loaded the bases in the eighth inning. Instead, he struck out on four pitches from reliever Vinnie Pestrano, the last one a 92-mph fastball.