Sunday, May 6, 2012
3 Up, 3 Down: Angels 4, Blue Jays 3
By Mark Saxon
ANAHEIM -- Albert Pujols finally hit a home run and the Angels' bullpen finally held a slim lead in a 4-3 win over the Toronto Blue Jays Sunday.
The Angels finished the homestand 5-2. Until this week, they had lost every road trip and homestand of the season.
It's over, at last. One of the more-scrutinized homerless streaks in baseball history came to an end. Albert Pujols golfed a low pitch from Drew Hutchison over the left-field wall, about 390 feet from home plate, for his first home run as an Angel. That snapped a streak of 110 at-bats without going deep, the longest of Pujols' career. With that behind them, maybe the Angels can get a little momentum going as they travel to Minnesota to play the worst team in the American League. Players initially vacated the dugout, giving Pujols the silent treatment, but then they returned to swarm him.
Jerome's day. If the Angels had played better defense behind him, maybe Jerome Williams could have repeated his shutout from the previous start. He wasn't quite as sharp, but he pitched the Angels into the seventh inning on just 88 pitches despite two crucial misplays. Williams is giving the Angels stability in the back of their rotation. Since that bad season debut at Yankee Stadium, he has given them four straight quality starts.
Mighty pen. Four relievers combined to get the final seven outs in a one-run game, a radical departure from the rest of this season. After Scott Downs left the game with an injury, LaTroy Hawkins only needed two pitches to get two outs. Omar Vizquel lined the ball to Hawkins, who underhanded it to first for a double play.
Downs down. The Angels have already had enough headaches with their bullpen. Now this. Closer Scott Downs was ducking J.P. Arencibia's line drive in the ninth when he appeared to injure his right knee. Downs has been the only reliable reliever all year, having pitched 9 2/3 scoreless innings before the injury.
Short on production. Pujols' slump took some scrutiny off Erick Aybar's struggles and that takes some doing. The shortstop went 3-for-24 (.125) on the homestand and stranded a runner at third with less than two outs in the sixth inning by chopping a ball to the third baseman on the second pitch. Aybar's OPS is the second-lowest among qualifying players in the AL ahead of Alexei Ramirez.
Defense. Aybar also lost a third-inning pop-up in the sun, leading to a run, and should have caught Pujols' high throw in the sixth, an error on Pujols that led to a Toronto run. He did, however, make a nice deke on Rajai Davis that led to a rare 1-4 double play in the eighth inning.