Tuesday, May 8, 2012
3 up, 3 down: Twins 5, Angels 0
By Mark Saxon
The Angels' momentum, particularly in the batter's box, came to a crashing halt Tuesday night in Minnesota.
The Angels managed just five base runners, four on hits, in a 5-0 loss to the Twins and minor-league call-up Scott Diamond.
Newcomer. It's a good thing David Pauley had been starting games at Triple-A, because the Angels needed him to soak up innings after a premature departure by Dan Haren. He did, pitching four scoreless innings. It's not as if the Angels have had an easy time getting outs from their bullpen, so maybe this was a sign of hope for a beleaguered unit?
Diamond. He may not throw all that hard, but Diamond looks as if he might have some staying power. He got a ton of groundballs in seven scoreless innings, always a useful trait. The Twins are 8-21, so any unexpected contribution must feel like a godsend.
Trout. Mike Trout was the only Angel to get on base twice and the only Angel to walk all game. It's not quite accurate to say he's been hot lately -- he hasn't gone on one of the tears he routinely rode in the minor leagues -- but he looks as if his talent is emerging and that's a hopeful sign.
Muddling middle. The middle of the Angels' lineup has been soft as pudding lately. Torii Hunter's hot streak has to come to a halt since the first game against Toronto over the weekend. He has one hit in his last 19 at-bats and he struck out three times Tuesday. The Angels have been setting the table well lately, but nobody's clearing it.
Pujols' production. Unfortunately for the Angels, it looks as if Sunday's breakout, two-RBI, one-home run game by Albert Pujols was the anomaly, not the new trend. He's back to hitting ball after ball on the ground to the left side. At this rate, teams might want to consider putting eight players on the left side of the diamond. He doesn't look capable of hitting the ball anywhere else.
Un-Haren-like. Haren never looked comfortable. The TV cameras caught him stretching several times in the dugout between innings, so maybe he was feeling some back tightness. He had looked better in recent starts, but it generally has been a frustrating start for the Angels' No. 2 starter. Haren (1-3) had pitched at least into the eighth inning in his three previous starts, but he also has given up a surprising number of home runs (five) and walks (seven) for a pitcher of his caliber.