Friday, June 29, 2012
3 up, 3 down: Blue Jays 7, Angels 5
By Mark Saxon
Even after a 17-8 June, the Angels have gotten no closer to catching the first-place Texas Rangers.
The Angels lost 7-5 to the Toronto Blue Jays north of the border, snapping a four-game winning streak and pushing them to 5 1/2 games behind the Rangers, exactly where they started the month.
Trout's June. Mike Trout had an unremarkable game, going 1-for-5 with three strikeouts and a stolen base. But it was a remarkable 29 days of baseball for one of the brightest young talents the game has seen in a while. Trout had 42 hits, 11 for extra bases and stole 14 bags. The only other rookies to go over 40, 10 and 10 in those categories in one calendar month were Ichiro Suzuki and "Shoeless" Joe Jackson. Those are just cool analogues.
Table service. The explanations for the Angels' offensive revival typically involve three hitters -- Albert Pujols, Mike Trout and Mark Trumbo. The fact that Torii Hunter has been nearly as hot as anybody hitting in the No. 2 hole rarely gets mentioned or, if it does, it's explained by his spot in the lineup. If hitting second were so easy, why wasn't Howie Kendrick doing this when he had the chance. Hunter had three hits, a good bounceback from Thursday's 0-for-5.
Still producing. Is Albert Pujols an All-Star? Probably not, given his brutal April. But there is some thought the players will rally to vote him in so he can play in his hometown of Kansas City. The fact he's batting .273 with 47 RBIs after Friday is a good lesson in perseverance after the start he had.
Struggling Santana. You just never know what you're going to get from Ervin Santana this season. For a guy with a 5.12 ERA, he's actually pitched some brilliant games. Of course, he's also had some clunkers and a few like Friday's that are just kind of there. Santana cruised through the first three innings and imploded in the fourth. The big shot was Adam Lind's home run. Nothing can deflate a team like a three-run home run. Santana has allowed 19 home runs this season, second-most in the AL.
Walden pound. Jordan Walden remains an extremely useful pitcher. He generally has pitched well since losing the closer role and, with his stuff, he could prove lights-out if things come together for him. Right now, however, he doesn't inspire confidence in tight situations. Walden came into a tied game and got two quick outs in the seventh before a lightning barrage and, soon, Toronto had a lead.
Here's the story on Hisanori. You could say a lot of the same things about Hisanori Takahashi. He'll get on a roll every once in a while that makes you think he's rounding into a fairly useful bullpen piece. But then, rarely does he go a month of inspiring confidence. It tells you something that the Angels have explored acquiring a left-handed specialist. He's not getting it done in important moments.