Tuesday, July 3, 2012
3 up, 3 down: Indians 9, Angels 5
By Mark Saxon
The Angels had to endure two rain delays before they swallowed a 9-5 loss to the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field on Tuesday, with No. 2 starter Dan Haren continuing to struggle.
Splash continues. Mike Trout moves differently than the other people on a baseball field. He just looks more athletic than virtually anyone else. He's also statistically dominant these days. He hit a three-run shot to tie the score, a ball that traveled on a vicious line out to left field. He also had a single and is batting .340. You can rest assured that, when the All-Stars convene in Kansas City next week, he will get as much national publicity as anyone in the stadium. Angels fans will already know what everyone else will be catching up on: This guy is an extraordinary talent.
Upward trajectory. It's amazing to think that, on May 14, Albert Pujols was batting .197 with one home run. Less than two months later, after hitting his 13th home run, he is batting .272. Here's a fun game to play at home: wager on who will hit for a higher average this season, Pujols or Mark Trumbo. Pujols has a lot of ground to make up, more than 30 points, but he's got a track record to suggest he could do it.
Scoreboard assist. As hot as the Angels have been for the past couple of months, they've gone virtually nowhere in the AL West standings, gaining just 2 1/2 games on Texas since May 3. But Tuesday offered the Angels a small respite from Texas' rampage, as the Rangers got absolutely pounded in Chicago. It seems a little too early to focus on the wild-card standings, so anything that slows down Texas is a big help to the Angels.
Haren. He just isn't right. His command isn't as sharp as it normally is. Getting him straightened out in the second half will be one of the Angels' biggest priorities. The team rallied to get out of the 4-0 early hole and he went back out and gave up a pair of doubles. Poof, the lead was gone. This might be a worse first half than the one he had two seasons ago in Arizona. He pitched great for the Angels after that. Maybe he can replicate the turnaround.
Decision making. Maybe one of the reasons Albert Pujols is such a good first baseman is that he usually errs on the side of aggressiveness. Maybe, but boy does it go wrong sometimes. He got overly ambitious on a grounder to first in the fifth inning and tried to throw home. The ball got away from catcher John Hester and two runs scored. Probably under the "not worth it" category.
Squandered talent. For a pitcher who throws 97 mph and up, it seems like Jordan Walden gives up a surprising number of hard-hit balls. He gave up three rockets in the eighth inning. To his credit, he got out of it while allowing just one run to score, but that run seemed to take the air out of any hopes the Angels had of rallying. Walden, who was the team's closer to start the season, seems like he's going backward in his career and that's a bit troubling.