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Tuesday, June 5, 2012
3 up, 3 down: Angels 6, Mariners 1

By Mark Saxon

ANAHEIM -- The Angels kept their momentum going, beating the Seattle Mariners 6-1 Tuesday night behind Garrett Richards' first major-league victory.

The Good:

Big threat. A year ago, Mark Trumbo led the team in home runs (29) and RBIs (87), the first Angels rookie ever to do so. The Angels didn't figure it would happen again after signing Albert Pujols, but after more than one-third of the season, it's happening again. Trumbo blasted home runs Nos. 11 and 12, a team high, and drove in his 31st run, equaling Pujols. The explosion was welcome news for an Angels offense that was showing signs of slumping again. Trumbo, for example, was 1-for-16 with seven strikeouts coming into the game.

Power arm. Richards had a rough May at Triple-A Salt Lake, but the Angels needed a starter to plug Jered Weaver's spot in the rotation and he was next in line. Richards exceeded everybody's expectations with a masterful performance against a lineup that had been scorching the ball. The rookie right-hander's fastball was popping at 95 mph in the sixth inning and he cruised through seven innings, allowing only four hits and striking out eight Mariners. If he keeps this up, he'll stick in Anaheim even after Weaver gets back.

Underrated arm. The Angels are 5-16 when Jason Isringhausen pitches, but that's largely a product of the role manager Mike Scioscia has slotted him in. It's sometimes a highwire act, but Isringhausen has been solid, especially lately, and might merit a more meaningful role. Sixteen of his 21 outings have been scoreless, not bad for a 39-year old who has had his right elbow reconstructed three times.

The Bad:

Slip-sliding. Tuesday night was Erick Aybar's first time in the No. 9 spot in the batting order. It looks as if he might be there to stay, mostly because he can't bat any lower. Aybar just can't get his bat to activate. He has been moderately warm lately (batting .275) in his last 18 games, but since the start of last weekend's Texas series he has just three hits. Oh, and he has walked only seven times after nearly 200 at-bats.

Bourjos situation. Peter Bourjos is a promising 25-year-old player who, last season, blossomed into a star center fielder and a solid hitter. Is it really fair to his career to slot him as a part-time player and pinch runner? That seems to be the role Bourjos is settling into. He pinch ran and played a little late defense, but Bourjos has started only 12 of the Angels' last 36 games. The need to resolve this situation one way or another before long.

Callasp-is. Alberto Callaspo and Maicer Izturis have had solid careers and have made underrated contributions to this team, but this season they've just kind of been there. And you certainly don't need two guys like that. The two switch-hitting infielders are splitting up playing time largely because neither guy can take it and run. They came into the game batting an identical .235, which seems appropriate since their skills are largely redundant.