Los Angeles Angels: San Diego Padres

3 Up, 3 Down: Padres 3, Angels 2 (13)

May, 20, 2012
The Angels looked for a while like they had reached a stalemate of offensive ineptitude, but finally someone managed to score.

The result was a 3-2 loss to the San Diego Padres in 13 innings, another stark example of the Angels' poor hitting, which hasn't abated since the firing of hitting coach Mickey Hatcher. Howie Kendrick bobbled a ball in left field, allowing Clayton Richard to score the winning run.

The Good:

Fast swimmer. It's impossible to avoid fish imagery when writing about Mike Trout. Sorry, that's just the way it is, so get used to it. The Angels' best prospect -- along with Mark Trumbo -- are keeping this team afloat, at least to the extent it's staying afloat. Trout mashed a home run to left-center and was 3-for-4, on base five times.

The aforementioned. Trumbo looks like a different guy. Specifically, he looks like a young Manny Ramirez. He's hitting line drives all over the place and, when he's not absolutely killing a baseball, he's getting on base via the base on balls. Trumbo's newfound patience has made him a far more complete player. 0p0l-p0---kjt

Pitching depth. The Padres are such an inept offensive team, it's hard to judge pitching performances. But Ervin Santana continued to slowly pull his season out of the muck and the bullpen was as good as you can be. Youngster David Carpenter deserves special mention for escaping an almost inescapable jam (winning run on third, one out) and pitching 2 1/3 scoreless innings.

The Bad:

K-Company. If the Angels are going to leave Howie Kendrick in the middle of the order, they're going to need him to produce at a far higher level with runners on base. Entering Sunday, Kendrick was batting .161 with runners in scoring position and .196 with runners on in general. With the bases loaded and one out in the 10th inning, Kendrick struck out swinging.

Sixth street. Maicer Izturis went 0 for 6 and stranded six runners. Need we go on?

Not so hot. When Albert Pujols hit home runs in back-to-back games late last week, it looked like he was about to go on one of his hot streaks, the kind that could carry the team. It hasn't happened. Pujols fell into a familiar pattern Sunday and had a 2-for-12, zero-RBI weekend in San Diego.

3 up, 3 down: Padres 3, Angels 2

May, 19, 2012

The Angels, searching for some offensive continuity, hit another cold patch in a 3-2 loss to the last-place San Diego Padres.

The Good:

Snapping out of it. Erick Aybar had been as cold as cold can be, but his bat has come awake in a big way the past two nights. Aybar had four more hits, driving in and scoring a run, and has six already in this weekend series. Aybar's days as a leadoff hitter may be over, but the Angels, especially without catcher Chris Iannetta, could use another active bat near the bottom of their lineup.

Trout's fire. As a rookie, Mike Trout probably shouldn't get into too many spats with umpires. At the same time, he has to play the game with emotion. He nearly beat out the shortstop's throw on his RBI groundout in the fifth inning, then made no secret of his unhappiness with Doug Eddings' call. Eddings, far from a popular figure with Angels fans following a controversial call in the 2005 ALCS, stared him down all the way to the dugout.

Back to form. It's hard to separate the opponent from the performance, but Dan Haren seemed to have crisper stuff Saturday night and that's a good sign for this rotation. Haren gave up three runs, but generally mowed down the punchless Padres through six innings. He also was working in the 90 mph range with his fastball, which seems to be a key mark.

The Bad:

Numbness. The Angels have a tendency to be lulled to sleep for long stretches of games, often against pedestrian pitchers. Soft-tossing lefty Eric Stults, an ex-Dodger, was able to breeze deep into the seventh inning while allowing only four hits. Only two Angels, Aybar and Trout, managed to pick up even one base hit off Stults.

The price. The Angels couldn't be happier with new reliever Ernesto Frieri, who has fortified the wobbly back end of their bullpen. But you don't get something for nothing in this game, and scrappy middle infielder Alexi Amarista, part of a trade for Frieri, looks like he has the heart -- and ability -- to be a big-league player. Amarista (two hits, winning RBI) has gotten off to a strong start with the Padres, who figure to give him a shot at their starting second base job.

Cooling off. Mark Trumbo was practically trailing smoke behind him, he was swinging such a hot bat. Primarily a designated hitter prior to Torii Hunter's recent absence, Trumbo also had established himself well in right field, which just might end up being his position next year and beyond. But Saturday was a bit of a rough patch. He went 0-for-4 with a strikeout, stranded a couple runners and bobbled a ball that let a runner reach third base.

3 up, 3 down: Angels 7, Padres 2

May, 18, 2012

The Angels got back into their comfort zone, the National League.

They beat the San Diego 7-2 Friday night at Petco Park behind another strong pitching effort by Jered Weaver and a strong hitting performance by... Jered Weaver? The Angels have the best interleague record in the majors since 2007.

The Good:

Tropical fish. Mike Trout is doing to the major leagues what he did after adjustment periods to both Double-A and Triple-A. He's making it look easy. The Angels' best under-21 player has had multi-hit games in six of his last nine games. He went 3-for-4, including a triple down the left-field line that drove in a run.

Rare sight. In a few years, Jered Weaver probably won't remember another strong performance on the mound (seven good innings). Those have become commonplace for him, especially in the last few years. What he'll remember is the base hit up the middle off Jeff Suppan, the run he scored and the walk he earned. The Angels have some good-hitting pitchers on their staff, but Weaver probably isn't one of them. Now, however, he might end up leading the staff in on-base percentage this year. Oh yeah, he's also 6-1 with a 2.80 ERA.

Thaws. Howie Kendrick snapped an 0-for-19 streak by lining a single to right field in the ninth inning. Vernon Wells is emerging from a year-and-change worth of slump with some of his best hitting as an Angel in the past two weeks. Erick Aybar snapped out of a month-long funk with a couple of hits. The Angels will be a deep lineup if these guys are productive.

The Bad:

Bobby's bat. Now that Chris Iannetta is on the disabled list after wrist surgery, the Angels could fall back into last season's pattern: the catcher's spot in the lineup as a black hole. Bobby Wilson, the No. 1 catcher in Iannetta's stead, hasn't gotten a hit since last weekend. You've got to figure Angels GM Jerry Dipoto has been working the phones to scrounge up an adequate-hitting catcher.

Seriously, San Diego? The Padres average barely three runs per game, making the Angels' lineup look mighty by comparison. Only the Pittsburgh Pirates have scored fewer runs than San Diego, which scrounged up just three hits Friday night. If things continue, manager Bud Black might find things getting uncomfortable.

Held out. The Angels are playing at a National League Park this weekend, which -- of course -- means no designated hitter. It still seems like every effort should be taken to get the best eight hitters on the field. Kendrys Morales certainly falls into that category, but his weekend figures to boil down to two or three pinch-hitting appearances. Angels manager Mike Scioscia told reporters before the game that Albert Pujols is willing to play a little third base and Morales is healthy enought to play first. OK, so why not do it?

Ernesto Frieri goes home (sort of)

May, 18, 2012
The South American nation of Colombia has sent 10 players to the major leagues. The first six were shortstops. The last three have been pitchers.

"Those shortstops had great hands, because our fields had so many rocks in them," said Angels reliever Ernesto Frieri, the ninth Colombian to reach the majors. "They fixed the fields. Now, no shortstops."

Frieri admits his favorite sport to watch is still soccer, which helps explain why Colombia has been less of a pipeline to the majors than neighboring Venezuela or other Caribbean lands such as the Dominican Republic, Cuba or Puerto Rico, where baseball is the No. 1 sport.

Colombia -- specifically, a small town called Sincerin near the colonial city of Cartagena -- is Frieri's home. But for the past 10 seasons, his home away from home had been the San Diego Padres organization. He was the longest-tenured player in the organization before the Padres traded him to the Angels for infielder Alexi Amarista and pitcher Donn Roach early this month.

The Angels play the Padres in San Diego this weekend and Amarista figures to be on the field quite a bit. He might even face Frieri. San Diego released veteran second baseman Orlando Hudson Thursday, opening a door for Amarista.

Frieri has been a key addition to the Angels bullpen, having made five scoreless appearances, virtually all of them in high-pressure situations. Frieri has become the right-handed complement to closer Scott Downs and pitches almost exclusively in the eighth and ninth innings. His acquisition has brought order to the most chaotic part of the team for the first month.

The move also has benefited Frieri's career. He was working the middle innings for the Padres, whose bullpen is deeper than the Angels'.

"The Angels gave me a chance to pitch in close situations and I love it," Frieri said. "I think every Latin pitcher likes that, because we love adrenaline. We're used to pitching in winter ball in front of all those full crowds, screaming the whole game."

Angels try to cut down on strikeouts

May, 4, 2011
One of the most vexing aspect of the Angels' offensive funk for manager Mike Scioscia and hitting coach Mickey Hatcher has been the high strikeout rates.

Only the San Diego Padres and Pittsburgh Pirates -- who have to let their pitchers hit -- have struck out more times than the Angels, who have gone down on strikes 234 times. The Angels prefer a motion offense and strikeouts can lead to bad things like strikeout-throwout double plays.

"We've got a lot more strikeouts than I can ever remember," Hatcher said.

Hatcher has worked with many of the Angels' young hitters on widening their stances, choking up and having tougher at-bats when they get to two strikes. Two of the Angels' top four strikeout victims, Peter Bourjos and Mark Trumbo are in their first full seasons.

"Sometimes, the game moves so fast for them, they can't take it into a game," Hatcher said. "It takes time. It takes at-bats. It takes facing that pitcher maybe more than twice to get a feel of how he's doing against you."

In an effort to shake a little offense out of this group -- the Angels have only scored 13 runs in six games against the Boston Red Sox -- Scioscia moved Maicer Izturis to the No. 3 spot in the lineup and slid struggling Vernon Wells all the way to the No. 7 hole for Wednesday's game.



1. Erick Aybar SS

2. Bobby Abreu DH

3. Izturis 2B

4. Torii Hunter RF

5. Alberto Callaspo 3B

6. Howie Kendrick 1B

7. Vernon Wells LF

8. Hank Conger C

9. Peter Bourjos

Red Sox

1. Jacoby Ellsbury CF

2. Dustin Pedroia 2B

3. Adrian Gonzalez 1B

4. Kevin Youkilis 3B

5. David Ortiz DH

6. Jed Lowrie SS

7. Mike Cameron RF

8. Carl Crawford LF

9. Jason Varitek C



Howie Kendrick
.290 7 71 84
HRM. Trout 34
RBIM. Trout 107
RM. Trout 109
OPSM. Trout .935
WJ. Weaver 17
ERAG. Richards 2.61
SOG. Richards 164