Tuesday, May 29, 2012
3 Up, 3 Down: Angels 5, Yankees 1
By Mark Saxon
ANAHEIM -- The most disappointing team in baseball is now the hottest team in baseball.
The Angels won their eighth straight game, dominating the New York Yankees 5-1 Tuesday night behind more power from two hot sluggers and a strong performance by No. 2 starter Dan Haren. If they can complete the sweep here Wednesday, it would be their longest winning streak since 2004.
Power partners. Remember when the talk was about how Albert Pujols made it difficult to find a role for Mark Trumbo? Now, it's about whether these two are among the best power-hitting duos in the league. Pujols hit his first career home run off Andy Pettitte in the third inning, a two-run shot and his eighth in May. Pujols' 24 May RBIs are second in the AL behind Josh Hamilton. And Trumbo? He hit a 443-foot blast onto the rocks and is third in the league in OPS behind Hamilton and Paul Konerko.
Young robbers. Haren was laughing after Peter Bourjos smacked into the wall catching Nick Swisher's line drive in the seventh inning. It was the second time in the game an Angels outfielder made a brilliant running grab to take an extra-base hit away from Swisher. Mike Trout leaped and went face-first into the left-field wall taking away a home run in the second inning. With Bourjos in center, Trout in left and Torii Hunter, the Angels might well have the best defensive outfield in the game. It beats the days, not that long ago, when Bobby Abreu and Juan Rivera were jogging around out there.
Back to form. Reports of Haren's decline may have been somewhat exaggerated. He's back to the ace-like form everyone has been seeing for the last eight years or so. In his last two starts, Haren has struck out 21 batters and walked nobody. Last time I checked, that was pretty good. It wasn't that long ago he was losing four straight -- May 3 through May 19.
Utility outage. It's easy to like what Maicer Izturis brings to the table. Izturis has been on the Angels longer than any player on the roster and he has always been productive when he plays, especially in the clutch. This season, he just hasn't looked like himself. He has struggled at the plate and he whiffed on a routine ground ball in the third inning for an error, his third in 34 games.
Missing pop. Howie Kendrick was batting fifth Tuesday night. In part, that's because Torii Hunter hadn't played in more than two weeks and the Angels were easing him back into action. But for Kendrick to hit in a prime RBI spot, he's got to start driving some balls. He went 1-for-4 with a jam-shot RBI single, but he hasn't had an extra-base hit since May 9.
Bottom's out. Bourjos plays such brilliant defense, the Angels are more interesting to watch when he's in the game. But he just hasn't been able to have consistent enough at-bats to win bigger chunks of playing time. He went 1-for-4 and scored a run, but he struck out to strand two runners in the eighth inning and he has five hits in his last 23 at-bats (.217), spread over two weeks.