Wednesday, July 4, 2012
3 up, 3 down: Indians 12, Angels 3
By Mark Saxon
The Angels are virtually unbeatable when Jered Weaver or C.J. Wilson starts. With anybody else, not so much.
The Angels lost the rubber game at Cleveland, with Ervin Santana getting knocked around in Wednesday's 12-3 loss.
Cutthroat Trout. He just keeps going and going. Mike Trout had two hits and a walk and has been on base 107 times since May 1, more than any hitter in the major leagues in that span. Torii Hunter and Albert Pujols had only one hit between them, so Trout didn't score. But if he keeps getting on base this much, he's going to pull this offense along in the second half.
Hit parade. Mark Trumbo has had an outstanding first half, but his production had been a little soft for most of this road trip, with only seven hits in the first eight games. But he went 3-for-4 to raise his batting average to .310, a great mark considering his prodigious power numbers.
Utility man. Maicer Izturis has always had a knack for clutch hits, but the Angels haven't seen much of that in 2012. The scrappy utility guy has had a fairly miserable season, with his playing time reduced and timing at the plate out of whack. He had driven in one run in his previous nine games. Wednesday, he got back to the old Izturis, driving in two of the Angels' three runs.
Ervin. He made his major-league debut in Cleveland and the first four batters accounted for a single, a double, a triple and a home run -- a perverse twist on the cycle. He also had his greatest triumph there, last season's no-hitter. Unfortunately for Santana, he's pitching more like the rookie rather than the seasoned vet. Santana couldn't make it out of the second inning (six hits, eight runs). With no more starts before the All-Star break, Santana is 4-9 with a 5.75 ERA. It has been a puzzling few months for Santana since there is no obvious physical ailment as there is in the case of another struggling starter, Dan Haren, who has admitted to lingering back pain.
Relief. Jason Isringhausen has been a pleasant surprise. He was contemplating retiring -- again -- in spring training before the sides worked out a minor-league deal. He struggled in Arizona, but made the team and had pitched himself into some important situations lately. But mopping up after Santana's shoddy outing, Isringhausen gave up five hits and three runs to put a dent in his ERA and give Cleveland an easier win. Hisanori Takahashi didn't do Santana or the Angels any favors allowing a three-run home run to ex-Angel Casey Kotchman.
Depth. It was the rotation that stabilized things early and has generally been the foundation of the Angels' success. Suddenly, things are looking a little dicey behind the top two starters. Jerome Williams is on the disabled list, Haren could be headed there and Garrett Richards looked shaky in his last start. This would be an opportune time for Williams or Richards to step up and provide a little stability, because right now the Angels' pitching is dangerously unbalanced.