Tuesday, June 26, 2012
3 up, 3 down: Angels 7, Orioles 3
By Mark Saxon
Baltimore's Camden Yards is always a good place to hit and the Angels offense is settling into a dangerous groove. Combine the two and you have perhaps the most prolific display Angels hitters have put on this season.
The Angels had a season-high 17 hits in a 7-3 win over the Baltimore Orioles Tuesday, including four home runs. They just keep on trucking, having won 12 of their last 13 road games, though it was interrupted by a lengthy homestand.
Another victim. Albert Pujols added Orioles youngster Brian Matusz to a ridiculously long list of pitchers he has homered off of. Pujols connected for a two-run shot off the lefty, the 282nd pitcher Pujols has taken deep. He also added Camden Yards to his list of 33 different ballparks he has homered in, several of them now no longer standing. Pujols didn't have a great homestand, but the overall trend has been clear: up. He has 11 homers and 34 RBIs in 38 games since May 15.
All-Star lefty? C.J. Wilson has gotten himself into an unbelievable amount of trouble in his last few starts and gotten himself out of virtually all of it. Can it continue? Probably not -- the law of averages suggests it's a dangerous way to live -- but his escape artistry is helping him motor through a great first half. Wilson (9-4) is 5-0 in his seven starts since May 18, over which he has a 1.30 ERA over that span.
Power to the ninth. John Hester has developed into Wilson's personal catcher. That and a surprisingly robust bat could make him the Angels' backup catcher when Chris Iannetta returns from the disabled list, a development that could put Bobby Wilson in danger of being designated for assignment. Hester, batting ninth, homered along with two other hits. His only out was a drive to the base of the left-field wall. His defense appears flawed, but he's making up for it by chipping in when he's at bat.
Why Erick? Why? Why did Erick Aybar try to score from first on Hester's two-out single to center in the fourth inning? He was, predictably, thrown out easily. Aybar isn't the only Angels hitter to look unnecessarily aggressive on the bases this season. He wasn't the only guy in this game (Torii Hunter). Would it kill this team to settle in and play for a big inning every once in a while. It's kind of how things are done in this league, especially in cozy little stadiums like Baltimore's.
LOB passes. It's amazing how many chances the Angels actually blew in this game and still won easily. That tells you all you need to know about Matusz's season. It tells you all you need to know about how this team's hitters are feeling at the plate lately. The Angels went 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position, left nine men on base and still scored seven. It was largely much ado about nothing, but it somehow added up to something.
Snub patrol. It's great when fans and managers and coaches criticize the baseball writers for how they vote in the award races and then butcher the Gold Glove and All-Star voting respectively. The Angels two most deserving All-Stars aren't even visible in the voting. Mark Trumbo, hitting .320 with 18 home runs and 50 RBIs, is listed as a third baseman and getting virtually no support. Mike Trout, who was leading the league in hitting going into Tuesday, isn't even on the ballot. Both guys will be there -- I'd be shocked if they're not -- but it's yet more evidence that this stuff is harder than it looks.