Thursday, May 17, 2012
3 up, 3 down: White Sox 6, Angels 1
By Mark Saxon
ANAHEIM -- The Angels seemed dazed by the mid-afternoon sun, losing three fly balls in the glare, and C.J. Wilson was wild in a 6-1 loss to the Chicago White Sox Thursday at Angel Stadium.
A Force. Mark Trumbo isn't sneaking up on anyone any more. He hit 29 home runs last year, so there are plenty of pitchers who know the damage he can do. He has never been as hot as he is right now. He's batting .460 with seven doubles and three home runs in his last 13 games. At times, he's hitting balls so hard that the fielder catches the carom quickly enough to hold him to a single.
Is he back?Albert Pujols had his first back-to-back games with a home run, but it was where the balls traveled -- to center field -- that has the Angels sensing his long cold streak might be over. Pujols has 13 RBIs in his last 10 games and his swing finally looks healthy again. He did have one hard ground ball to the left side, but he's keeping his weight back longer and looks dangerous again.
Thievery. On a day when the Angels' inability to catch fly balls may have cost them a game, Vernon Wells partially redeemed the defense by robbing Gordon Beckham of a home run in the eighth inning. Wells timed it well, put his right cleats on the fence and climbed it to keep the ball in the park and send Beckham back to the dugout with his hands on his helmet.
Sun guard. Imagine if this team had played back when night games were a rarity. Games might have lasted until it got dark. Mike Trout and Howie Kendrick (twice) lost balls in the sun. Two of them led to a pair of unearned runs that chased Wilson from the game in the fourth inning. Maybe the Angels should play a few more day games to get their players accustomed to the conditions.
Command. The attribute that sets Wilson apart from Jered Weaver and Dan Haren is that he occasionally loses touch with the strike zone. Wilson had generally kept that tendency in check this season, but Thursday it exploded all over him. Wilson walked six batters and hit Alex Rios with a pitch, pretty much guaranteeing it would be a poor outing. It could have been worse, but he got some clutch outs in each of the first three innings.
Starving Albert. As Pujols warms up, it's going to be essential that the top-of-the-order hitters give him opportunities to carry the team for the first time. Trout and Maicer Izturis never got on base, going 0-for-8. So, each time Pujols batted, the bases were empty. If you're going to suffer through Pujols' dry spells, you may as well maximize his hot streaks.