Los Angeles Angels: CC Sabathia

Angels 6, Yankees 0: Three Up, Three Down

September, 10, 2011
9/10/11
9:10
PM PT
ANAHEIM -- The Angels look like they're serious about this whole pennant-race thing.

With a dominating 6-0 win over the New York Yankees Saturday night, the Angels pulled to within 1 1/2 games of the Texas Rangers in the AL West. This is the closest the Angels have been to first place since Aug. 10.

The Yankees hadn't seen pitching this good in a while. It was the first time anyone had held them to one run or fewer in back-to-back games since the Baltimore Orioles did so in September of 2004.

The Good:

Ace race. Dan Haren (15-8) pitched just a tad better than Jered Weaver had the night before, going an extra inning and securing the win. Haren's fastball didn't touch 90 mph all night, but he still picked up his fifth career shutout. Power hasn't been a part of either pitcher's success lately, but the results are just as dominant. It was Haren's best outing since a complete-game shutout against the Detroit Tigers on July 5.

Young talent. Mark Trumbo and Mike Trout, a pair of rookies, sparked most of the Angels' offense, which wasn't much until the seventh inning. Trumbo had three singles off CC Sabathia and Trout doubled and drove in the Angels' second run with an excuse-me bloop single to right. If you're projecting the Angels' future, these guys would be right in the middle of things. In fact, they're right in the middle of the present.

Beleaguered catcher. Jeff Mathis has had a rough year. He came into the game batting .176 and he's been relentlessly beaten up in the media and on message boards and call-in shows. But the Yankees seem to bring out the best in Mathis' bat. He pounded their pitching in the 2009 playoffs and Saturday he doubled, homered and scored two runs.

The Bad:

Grinding halt. Vernon Wells just can't sustain any positive momentum. He had it going for a while, but that push has come crashing to a halt in the last few series. Wells went 1-for-5 and stranded eight runners, seemingly defusing every Angels rally for a while. He is 7-for-32 (.219) since the Angels returned from Seattle.

Kendrick's jump. The Angels figured they would test catcher Jorge Posada, considering the 40-year old hadn't caught all season, so Howie Kendrick tried to steal... and was thrown out easily despite an awful throw from Posada. Kendrick is not a great base stealer. He has 13 stolen bases this year and has been caught five times.

Lineups? Is it time to put the Trout Effect to the test? The Angels are 20-4 in games Trout has started, but the 20-year-old uber-prospect still often is benched when the Angels are facing a right-handed pitcher. Maybe Mike Scioscia should ditch that strategy and give Wells a day off instead against Freddy Garcia Sunday?

Maicer Izturis, stealth weapon

September, 10, 2011
9/10/11
4:32
PM PT
Of all the meaningful numbers in this Angels season, one of the crucial ones loft in the shuffle is 400.

That's the number of at-bats utility infielder Maicer Izturis reached for the first time in his career. He's at 409 at-bats with nearly three weeks left in the season, in fact. One of the more injury-prone players in the game has managed to keep himself on the field virtually all season and it has helped the Angels out-pace many peoples' expectations.

Izturis is an impact defender and a clutch hitter. He drove in the winning run in each of the past two Angels games. The operative word for Izturis is versatile.

"He's able to lead off or really hit anywhere in our lineup and start at three different positions for us," manager Mike Scioscia said. "That's something we missed for long stretches last year and it's had an impact on our team this year."

Izturis, 30, said the difference in 2011 vs. the previous seasons -- when he was on the disabled list nine times -- was that he finally got the weakness out of a hamstring that has been the root of many of his leg injuries. His propensity for clutch hits comes from his ability to read pitchers and keep a compact, up-the-middle approach at the plate.

"I know what my job is. I'm not a power hitter," Izturis said. "I'm a line-drive hitter."

Here are lineups for Saturday night's game, with Dan Haren pitching for the Angels and CC Sabathia for the Yankees:

New York

1. Derek Jeter SS

2. Curtis Granderson CF

3. Mark Teixeira 1B

4. Robinson Cano

5. Jesus Montero DH

6. Eric Chavez 3B

7. Russell Martin C

8. Eduardo Nunez RF

9. Brett Gardner

Angels

1. Maicer Izturis 3B

2. Peter Bourjos CF

3. Howie Kendrick 2B

4. Torii Hunter DH


5. Mark Trumbo 1B

6. Vernon Wells LF

7. Mike Trout RF

8. Erick Aybar SS

9. Jeff Mathis C

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TEAM LEADERS

BA LEADER
Howie Kendrick
BA HR RBI R
.292 7 72 85
OTHER LEADERS
HRM. Trout 35
RBIM. Trout 110
RM. Trout 113
OPSM. Trout .949
WJ. Weaver 18
ERAG. Richards 2.61
SOG. Richards 164