Tuesday, May 22, 2012
3 Up, 3 Down: Angels 5, A's 0
By Mark Saxon
The Angels got a dominating pitching performance from C.J. Wilson and saw some signs of life from Albert Pujols' bat in a 5-0 win over the Oakland A's Tuesday night.
Mr. Steady. Other than a rain-shortened outing in Texas and his previous start -- when he was battling a stomach virus -- C.J. Wilson hasn't had a bad start all year. Tuesday, against the punchless A's, was one of his finest -- an eight-inning one-hitter. The jury is still out on the Angels' two marquee off-season acquisitions, but the Wilson investment looks a lot more sound so far than the Albert Pujols deal.
Albert. He hit his first home run on the road and also had a sacrifice fly. Every time you make grandiose statements about Pujols getting hot, he cools off again, so we'll refrain from that. But four home runs nearing the end of May sounds a lot better than zero going into early May. He's at least taking baby steps.
Pushing buttons. This has been a grueling couple of months for manager Mike Scioscia. His close friend, hitting coach Mickey Hatcher, got fired. Scioscia has taken more criticism than ever before. But Tuesday he seemed to set the right tone by giving Angels hitters a day off from on-field batting practice, something he calls "going American Legion." Maybe it helped alleviate a little pressure? Also, Scioscia seems, at last, to have settled on a more or less set lineup, with Mike Trout leading off, one of the switch-hitting third basemen batting second and either Kendrys Morales or Mark Trumbo at cleanup.
Aybar exits. Shortstop Erick Aybar took a breaking ball off the right knee and had to leave the game in the seventh inning. Aybar hasn't exactly been killing the ball at the plate, but if he's out for more than a couple of days, it could put a big dent in the Angels' defensive continuity. Also, the infield options in the minor-leagues are scant since the team sent Alexi Amarista to San Diego.
Maicer struggles. Maicer Izturis has been one of the more underrated players on the roster as long as he's been an Angel, and that's a long time (he's the longest-serving player on the roster, having been acquired from Montreal in 2004). The utility guy, however, has been in a mighty slump lately, just one hit in his last 19 at-bats. He had a rare 0-for-6 Sunday in San Diego and he followed that with Tuesday's 1-for-5 performance.
AL West hitting. Leave Texas out of the discussion and the offensive performance of the AL West is just staggeringly anemic. Wilson was good Tuesday, but was he this good? Oakland entered Tuesday night with a .216 team batting average. That's incredible.