Friday, May 25, 2012
3 Up, 3 Down: Angels 6, Mariners 4
By Mark Saxon
The Angels did something they've rarely done this year: they rallied.
Down by a run going into the ninth inning Friday night, the Angels scored three times off Seattle Mariners closer Brandon League for a 6-4 win that gave them their first four-game winning streak this season. Howie Kendrick, making a rare pinch-hitting appearance, drove in the winning runs with a two-run single.
Hot Albert. The focus all season has been on the home runs, but the most damaging part of Albert Pujols' slump was the lack of run production. He had four RBIs in April. That tune has changed dramatically lately, with Pujols driving in 20 runs in his last 19 games. Oh, and the home runs? Those are way up, too, with five -- including the three-run blast in the sixth that got the Angels in the game -- in the last 10 games. He had one in the first 36.
Hot bullpen. What was once a major concern is now far less of a concern. The Angels bullpen has been sharp for weeks. It wasn't as high-pressure as some roles, but it also wasn't blowout duty and Hisanori Takahashi and Jason Isringhausen did what the rest of the relievers have been doing lately -- they got a bunch of outs, three innings worth. Then Scott Downs in the ninth did what he always seems to do: pitched a drama-free inning, quickly getting his fourth save.
Sparking things. When you're as hot as Mark Trumbo was for a couple of weeks, you know it's not going to last forever. You just hope for a soft landing, which is unlike what had been happening to the Angels' second-year slugger. The 0-fors were piling up for Trumbo, who has five hits in his last 35 at-bats. Perhaps his ninth-inning single, which sparked the winning rally, will get him going again.
Swervin' Ervin. Lost in the fact that the Angels can't score runs in support of Ervin Santana is the fact that Santana hasn't pitched very well. He has allowed 13 home runs in 10 starts and has an ERA well north of 4.00. He has only had two starts this year when he struck out more than six batters. Walks (seven!) were a big chunk of the problem Friday, but it seems like it's always something that keeps Santana from winning games these days.
Chilled Trout. Similar things as we said about Trumbo could be said of Mike Trout. The rookie was red hot for a while, but not so much lately. The rookie leadoff man didn't get on base again and is now 2 for his last 22, his batting average going from .355 to sub-.300.
Power outage. Kendrys Morales' last home run came on May 13. That also happened to be his last extra-base hit. When you are coming off a catastrophic leg injury, becoming a slap hitter normally isn't a great idea. The Angels need Morales to start driving the ball again, because pitchers are starting to become awfully careful with Pujols all of a sudden.