Thursday, May 3, 2012
3 Up, 3 Down: Blue Jays 5, Angels 0
By Mark Saxon
ANAHEIM -- So much for momentum.
The Angels, fresh off their first three-game winning streak of the year, played one of their worst games of the season in a 5-0 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays Thursday night. Brandon Morrow only needed 102 pitches to polish off the shutout, making it three straight games one of those has been pitched at Angel Stadium.
Catalyzing. Mike Trout had two of the Angels' three hits off Morrow. The 21-and-over crowd practically whiffed. Trout, 20, hit a couple of line-drive singles and has looked much more comfortable in his last two games. If he can settle into the leadoff spot, it could help jump-start the Angels offense, but it won't mean much if the middle of the lineup stays soft.
Innings 1, 2, 4, 5, 6 and 7. Dan Haren only gave up five hits in seven innings and this actually qualified as a quality start, even if it wasn't up to Haren's usual standards. The problem is that Haren gave up four of those hits in a row and one of them was J.P. Arencibia's line-drive three-run home run. Before that, Angels pitchers had thrown more than 17 straight scoreless innings.
Defensive specialist. When the Angels signed Albert Pujols to a 10-year, $240 million contract, did they realize they were actually signing Doug Mientkeiwicz? OK, so a great defender at first base probably isn't worth that kind of money, but at least give Pujols credit for keeping his head in the game on defense while he continues to be lost at the plate. He started and finished a brilliant 3-6-3 double play on a hard one-hopper to help Haren get out of the seventh.
Deep, deep funk. It's astonishing how many groundballs Pujols is hitting to the left side of the infield. Teams are pitching him hard inside and you wonder whether he no longer has the bat speed to exploit balls on the inner half. The scouting report isn't going to change until he does. The latest tally of carnage: 104 at-bats without a home run, one short of his career-long power drought. A .202 batting average. Angst all over Orange County, especially in Arte Moreno's suite.
Deeper, deep funk. Vernon Wells was in Pujols' shoes a year ago. Come to think of it, he still is. Wells, who batted .218 a year ago, is stuck in a 6-for-31 slump and has hit into double plays in back-to-back games. There was some talk in spring training that he looked like a different guy. So far, he looks like exactly the same guy.
Just a bit wide. Mike Scioscia spoke in glowing terms about his newfound confidence in Mark Trumbo at third base. Given a little time, Trumbo probably could become a good fielder at that spot. But it's been awfully tough for him to get comfortable there in his second season in the major leagues. Trumbo had been making strides, but made a brutal two-run throwing error, sailing it about 10 feet from Pujols and past the runner into the Toronto dugout. It was Trumbo's fourth error, but first since the third game of the season.