Tuesday, July 24, 2012
3 up, 3 down: Royals 4, Angels 1
By Mark Saxon
ANAHEIM -- The Angels missed out on a nice opportunity to gain ground on the Texas Rangers by playing one of their drabbest games of the season.
They managed just four hits in a 4-1 loss to the Kansas City Royals at Angel Stadium on Tuesday night. For the first time since May 25, the Angels are not alone in second place. The streaking Oakland A's pulled into a tie with them, five games behind Texas, which lost 2-1 at home to the Boston Red Sox.
Point of debate. On a night when the man who replaced him in the rotation struggled, Jerome Williams shined. He pitched four scoreless innings to give the Angels a chance to rally. After starting the season 6-2, Williams lost his next five starts and that cost him a demotion to the bullpen. Manager Mike Scioscia reiterated before the game that the move could be temporary, however. Williams might have given Angels management something to think about as it tries to cobble together a capable rotation.
Short work. Garrett Richards is exactly the kind of pitcher bad teams are trying to acquire this time of year. He has shown flashes of promise in the major leagues, is young and cheap and has good enough stuff to suggest there's a nice upside. What the Angels are trying to decide is whether he's ready for a pennant race. Lately, he has given mixed signals. His first three starts were strong, but since then he has pitched five innings or fewer in three of five starts. The Royals were all over him in the first two innings, putting the Angels in a steep hole immediately, but he steadied himself to finish on a good note with three scoreless innings.
Redemption. A lot of people in the Angels organization can take a little slice of credit for whatever Royals pitcher Will Smith does in his career. The Angels drafted him in the seventh round in 2008 and he spent three seasons in their organization before departing in the trade that brought Alberto Callaspo back to the Angels. Tuesday, the lefty showed the Angels what they're missing. He buzzed through seven innings, allowing just two hits and working around four walks.
Streaks snapped. Mike Trout went 0-for-3 to snap a career-best 12-game hitting streak, but he still had a chance to get closer to the AL record for consecutive games scoring a run. He walked in the eighth inning, but after a long at-bat, Torii Hunter popped up to end the inning. Trout had scored in 15 consecutive games before Tuesday. As Trout goes, the Angels tend to go and they looked dead without their spark at the top of the order.
Un-designated. Everybody said it was a great advantage for Albert Pujols to come to the American League so he could get some rest at designated hitter once every 10 games or so. That hasn't been working out so well. Pujols is 4-for-31 (.129) at DH this year with two home runs and seven strikeouts. He had an awkward, 0-for-3 night at the plate, to say the least. In the third inning, he swung at a pitch and hit it with his right forearm, near the elbow. How is that possible?
Rough debut. Jean Segura might well prove to be a fine major-league player. In his major-league debut, however, he appeared a bit overmatched. Segura struck out on four pitches in his first at-bat and three pitches in his next. He hit a sharp grounder and reached on an error in his last. He also was a bit slow starting what might have been an inning-ending double play hit by Alcides Escobar in the second inning. It resulted in a run-scoring fielder's choice.