Monday, July 2, 2012
3 Up, 3 Down: Angels 3, Indians 0
By Mark Saxon
The Angels continued to forge ahead with some positive momentum going into the All-Star break with a 3-0 win over the Cleveland Indians in Ohio behind ace Jered Weaver.
Ace of aces. The Angels have the league batting leader and the league ERA leader. That's usually a sign that things are going pretty well. Weaver is 9-1 with a 2.13 ERA. He is 3-0 and has allowed one run in 19 2/3 innings since he came off the disabled list with back spasms. At times Monday, Weaver looked like he was trying to stretch out his back behind the mound. Right now, it looks like the only thing that can slow him down is a recurrence of the injury.
Left on. It must be nice to be a starting pitcher and hand the ball to Mike Scioscia, who hands it to Scott Downs. It's baffling how he does it, given that his fastball seems to top out at 89 mph and he doesn't have any circus secondary pitches, but Downs just gets out of jams. He got Weaver out of a two-on, nobody-out pickle in the eighth inning, and it was nice to see Scioscia leave him in the game to pitch the ninth, where he had little trouble sewing it up.
Filling in. There wasn't a lot of offense worth mentioning, but Erick Aybar did a capable job filling in for Mike Trout, who missed the game with a jammed finger. He had two hits and scored a run out of the leadoff spot. On the other hand, he got thrown out in the first inning trying to steal with Torii Hunter and the Angels' big bats coming up, which seems like a silly mistake so early in a game against a pitcher who has struggled with big innings.
Trout's injury. He played a little late defense, which suggest the Angels aren't overly concerned with Trout's injury. But hand injuries can be slow to heal for a hitter and Trout won't have the All-Star break to recover since he's a reserve on the AL squad and baseball will want to showcase their newest phenom. If this becomes a lingering concern that affects Trout's hitting, it will be a major worry for a team that sorely missed his spark before he arrived.
Slow going. Peter Bourjos has looked better at the plate lately, but an 0-for-4 day could slow his bid to carve more playing time for himself. If the Angels view him as their center fielder of the future, they're going to have a tricky balancing act getting him enough time this season so his bat doesn't seriously regress.
The zone. I admire an umpire who has a big strike zone. It makes the game go faster and forces hitters to swing the bats instead of pumping up their on-base percentages with walks. But Jerry Layne might take it a bit far, mostly because he's so out of step with the rest of the league's strike-callers. It seemed at times as if anything that didn't bounce was going to be called a strike. Alberto Callaspo, who has one of the sharper eyes in the game, took three straight strikes and walked back to the bench with a stunned look on his face.