Thursday, May 24, 2012
3 up, 3 down: Angels 3, Mariners 0
By Mark Saxon
Two key veterans re-established themselves with dominant games during the Angels’ 3-0 win over the Seattle Mariners on Thursday night at Safeco Field.
Dan Haren pitched a four-hit shutout and Albert Pujols had three hits, including his 450th career home run.
Clicking. Pujols has started so slowly, Angels fans haven’t yet gotten to appreciate his place in this game. But you get a notion of his brilliant career when you consider he is the fourth-fastest player ever to reach the 450-home run milestone. And only two of the players ahead of him, Ken Griffey Jr and Jimmie Foxx were never linked to performance-enhancing drugs. Perhaps now Pujols will get on with piling up milestones and enhancing the Angels’ brand as he goes.
Haren wins. These were unfamiliar days for Haren, who for seven years has been one of the most dominant pitchers in baseball. Going into late May stuck on one win? His record was largely the product of paltry run support, but he was also a tick off his former level. It all came back to him Thursday night and it looked as if the Mariners never stood a chance. Haren set a new career high with 14 strikeouts and got his first win in nearly a month.
Morales moves. Lost in the constant noise of Pujols’ struggles was the inability of Kendrys Morales to drive the ball recently. He nearly snapped his two-week long homerless drought with a deep drive in the first inning, but the wind knocked it down. He had two key hits and, in tandem with Pujols, could be the key to this offense.
Young guns misfiring. Mark Trumbo and Mike Trout were so hot for a while, it seemed as if it would go on forever. But baseball is a hard game and the two young players have now cooled off together. Trout had the only hit between them and combined they are four for their last 35.
Roll interrupted. Just when it looked as if Erick Aybar was about to get hot, he got hit in the knee with a pitch, missed a game and saw his hot streak interrupted. After a torrid 8-for-15 stretch, Aybar has two hits in his last 11 at-bats.
Run support. If you’re wondering why Haren hadn’t won a game since April 28, consider that the Angels had given him two runs of support, total, in his previous four starts. Pujols gave him that with one swing of the bat.