Tuesday, May 15, 2012
3 up, 3 down: Angels 4, A's 0
By Mark Saxon
ANAHEIM -- The Angels showed a little more life the second time they faced aging ex-Cy Young winner Bartolo Colon, scraping out 12 hits off him in a 4-0 win at Angel Stadium.
There were some rare signs of life from an offense that, most of this season, has been blazing a trail in not scoring runs. Youngster Mike Trout and struggling superstar Albert Pujols led the way.
Strong swimmer. Trout looks like every bit the elite prospect everybody said he was. He flashed his speed while scoring from first on Alberto Callaspo's double in the third inning, stole a base, scored three runs and hit his third home run in 15 games. They brought him up looking for a spark and, since May began, he has provided a fire.
Albert's luck. Say what you will about Pujols and this has been a glacial start by his (or most hitters') standards, but it's true he was hitting into some bad luck. That began to even out Tuesday when Pujols went 3-for-3 with two RBIs in his first three at-bats without hitting a ball out of the infield. For at least one night, Mike Scioscia couldn't say Pujols was hitting balls hard "without a lot to show for it." Tuesday he hit balls softly with a lot to show for it.
Strong start. You could see Ervin Santana beginning to turn his season around even before he snapped his six-game losing last week in Minnesota. After four awful starts to begin the season, Santana has pitched well in his last four. Tuesday was easily his best and, while it came against the worst-hitting team in the league, the A's had been scoring some runs in recent games. From the first through the sixth inning, Santana retired 16 straight batters, which meant the fans got to enjoy the tail end of rush-hour traffic. They gave him an eighth-inning standing ovation nonetheless.
Aybar's struggles. This stretch is reminiscent of the start to Erick Aybar's 2010 season. The shortstop isn't taking advantage of his speed, because he's hitting virtually every ball in the air and his batting average (.187) is starting to make Pujols' look robust. Aybar hit four harmless fly balls and is 0 for his last 11. Aybar has the worst on-base percentage in the major leagues.
Sitting Howie. Howie Kendrick hasn't exactly been killing the ball, but it still feels like he's one of the best handful of hitters the Angels have. When Mike Scioscia sits him, it only seems to exacerbate his offensive struggles. Kendrick got benched Monday after an 0-for-5 night in Texas, his second day off in eight days and his third since April 21. The "rest" produced another 0-fer for Kendrick. The previous time Scioscia gave him a day off, he picked up one hit in his next nine at-bats.
Ambience. At the start of Tuesday's game at 4:07 p.m., it looked as if there were about 15,000 people in the stadium, reminiscent of the late 1990s around here. It filled out a bit and the Angels announced a crowd of 31,762 fans later. But with the team struggling, Angel Stadium has felt like a library most nights this season. Remember when the Angels were trumpeting all those extra tickets sold? Haven't heard about that lately.