Los Angeles Angels: Jim Thome

3 up, 3 down: Angels 3, Orioles 0

July, 7, 2012
7/07/12
9:37
PM PT


ANAHEIM -- Jered Weaver continued to pad his case to start Tuesday's All-Star Game and the Angels rode it to a 3-0 victory over the Baltimore Orioles on Saturday night at Angel Stadium.

The Angels seemed to be sleepwalking toward the All-Star break in recent games, losing three of the last four, but a lot of that was due to sub-par starting pitching. Weaver tidied things up with eight shutout innings, in which he allowed just three hits.

The Good:

Weaver's front yard. Beating Weaver in Anaheim isn't impossible, but then again neither is soloing K2 or circumnavigating the globe in a 16th century wooden ship. It isn't easy. Weaver has made seven starts here this season, including his no-hitter, and he is 6-0 with a 0.58 ERA. The Orioles put a little pressure on him in the first few innings, but after that, Weaver settled in and he just didn't look fallible. He's 10-1, has a 1.96 ERA and looks like a good bet to make his next start in Kansas City on Tuesday night.

Leather work. Suggestion for 41-year olds: Don't run on Torii Hunter. Jim Thome didn't get it and tried to reach second after smacking a line drive off the right-field wall in the seventh inning. Hunter made an on-target throw and Thome was out narrowly. Erick Aybar made a diving stop on Chris Davis' grounder up the middle, another play that should make Baseball Tonight's Web gems.

Unexpected source. Bobby Wilson has a strong, accurate arm and a knack for helping pitchers work their way through an opposing lineup. You don't, however, have to be a SABR-metrics professor to see that he's not the world's greatest hitter. Wilson came into Saturday batting .181. He picked up two hits (just his fourth multi-hit game of the season) and was on base three times to stoke what little offense the Angels mustered. Good step forward for a player who could be a very solid backup catcher if he can hit.

The Bad:

Decisions, decisions. On the one hand, you have to appreciate Aybar's hustle and aggressiveness. On the other hand, you have to wonder what he's thinking sometimes. Jason Hammel had walked a batter and hit a batter in the second inning right before Aybar swung at the first pitch he saw and popped it up to end the inning. Later, on a routine single to left field, he tried to go from first to third (with two outs). Xavier Avery made a terrible throw or Aybar would have been out easily. An old-school manager might have pulled Aybar from the game.

Main men. What are the odds Mike Trout, Albert Pujols and Mark Trumbo would combine to go 1-for-10 and the Angels would still win fairly easily? Not sure, but probably not great. Those three have been the fuel, the drive shaft and the piston of the Angels' offense this season, but they weren't firing in sync for one of the few times in recent weeks. It's a good sign that the rest of the lineup picked them up for one of the few times in 2012.

Matchups. You can't criticize Mike Scioscia for going with Scott Downs in the ninth inning, because Baltimore didn't sniff a rally, going down feebly on 10 pitches. But you can wonder why he didn't go with Ernesto Frieri with a couple of right-handed hitters leading things off (after Steve Pearce pinch-hit for Avery). Maybe the point of this is: How can you go wrong when two relievers are pitching this well? Those guys are better at thwarting second guessers than anything Scioscia can say.

Bobby Abreu: stumped by his slump

August, 4, 2011
8/04/11
6:07
PM PT
Bobby Abreu broke into the major leagues 15 years ago and has been playing virtually every day since 1998, but this past month has brought some new experiences.

"This is the first time this has ever happened to me," Abreu said. "It feels weird. Believe me, it feels weird."

Abreu, 37, is in the longest slump of his long, impressive career -- batting .163 since July 1 -- and he got Thursday night off against Minnesota Twins left-hander Francisco Liriano. In discussing his slump before the game, Abreu asked a reporter how many at-bats it has lasted.

"What is it, about 50?" Abreu asked. Um, no Bobby, almost 100.

"Wow," Abreu said, shaking his head. "Wow."

He insists that this lengthy struggle, however, is not the result of aging.

"Maybe people assume that's because of my age, but there's nothing wrong," Abreu said.

Angels manager Mike Scioscia indicated that Abreu will return to his spot in the middle of the Angels' batting order -- usually batting second or third -- on Friday against the Seattle Mariners.

"His bat speed looks fine, he's just not squaring it up," Scioscia said. "Yes, it's been an extended time, but one thing he's been doing is taking walks and working counts. His average and production haven't reflected what we need from him."

Here are the lineups for Thursday, with Jim Thome still three home runs shy of 600:

Twins

1. Denard Span CF

2. Joe Mauer 1B

3. Michael Cuddyer 2B

4. Jason Kubel RF

5. Jim Thome DH

6. Danny Valencia 3B

7. Delmon Young LF

8. Tsuyoshi Nishioka SS

9. Drew Butera C

Angels

1. Maicer Izturis DH

2. Alberto Callaspo 3B

3. Torii Hunter RF

4. Vernon Wells LF

5. Howie Kendrick 2B

6. Mark Trumbo 1B

7. Erick Aybar SS

8. Peter Bourjos CF

9. Jeff Mathis C

SPONSORED HEADLINES

TEAM LEADERS

BA LEADER
Mike Trout
BA HR RBI R
.310 23 74 69
OTHER LEADERS
HRM. Trout 23
RBIM. Trout 74
RM. Trout 69
OPSM. Trout 1.002
WG. Richards 11
ERAG. Richards 2.47
SOG. Richards 134