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|The Boston Red Sox's Bill Hall is greeted by teammate Adrian Beltre, left, after Hall's two-run home run during the second inning in Boston's 17-8 rout of the visiting Angels.|
Saunders didn't exactly look like he was having a good time on the job Monday night. In the third inning, shortly after he hit Kevin Youkilis in the ribs with a fastball, he turned his head disgustedly toward the Angels' dugout after throwing a slider about a foot outside to J.D. Drew. He didn't find the answer where he was looking. Saunders essentially has no idea why he's pitching this poorly. "They say you have five bad ones, five good ones and the other 20 are what make you a man, when you can battle," Saunders said. "I've had one good start out of six now. It's time to have some good starts and some decent starts and, hopefully, more starts where I can keep my team in the ballgame." Of his six outings, only one has been quality. In his past three starts, he has given up 24 hits, nine walks and 15 runs in 11 2/3 innings. In that same span, he has struck out five batters. Saunders has more walks (14) than strikeouts (13) on the year. He doesn't look like the same guy who won 17 games and went to the All-Star Game two years ago. Then again, few of the Angels' pitchers are living up to their résumés these days. Only two AL teams have gotten worse starting pitching than the Angels this year. When the Angels broke camp in Arizona, they figured their five-deep rotation was a strength. Maybe it will be some day, but lately it has been pulling them down. Torii Hunter admitted he was frustrated after the Angels fell behind 5-0 when he inexplicably tried to steal second base on Clay Buchholz's first move in the fourth inning. The easy pickoff might have kept Buchholz around a few more innings and it might have cost the Angels a chance to tie the game. They wound up scoring three runs in the inning.
Is the bad starting pitching starting to force Angels hitters into doing things they shouldn't? "It's like when you're in the corner, they box you in and you start kicking, clawing, scratching, biting, doing everything you can. That's kind of what I did," Hunter said. "I overdid it a bit." Hunter went lightly when asked how frustrating it is to be fighting out of so many early holes. He didn't want to be publicly critical of the starting pitchers, who have a collective 4.96 ERA. "That's a hot tamale. Those are my teammates," he said. "All cylinders are just not clicking right now, and other teams are getting the best of us, put it like that."