A long weekend if games for the Angels so let’s just give each game a quick recap.
The Angels kicked off the Freeway Series with a solid win against the rival Dodgers. After Jered Weaver danced his way out of trouble for five innings, the bullpen stepped up with 4 shutout innings (lulling foolish Angel fans into a false sense of confidence). Chone Figgins was a one man wrecking crew, smacking three base hits and driving in two of the Angels three runs. The good feelings were flowing knowing that the Angels just shut down the best team in the league.
Then Saturday happened. Seemingly cruising to another victory over the Dodgers, Mike Scioscia made the call to the bullpen for Scot Shields to protect a one-run lead. And by protect, I mean erase. Shields almost immediately gave up a run to allow the game to be tied. Then Sosh made the mistake of letting Shields work the next inning where he dug himself a hole via a fielding error and two walks before he started pretending his knee was acting up so Scioscia would give him the hook and spare him from further embarrasment. That was saved for Jose Arredondo who extricated Shields from his mess but then imploded in the tenth inning, ultimately walking in the game-winning run. So much for the bullpen being fixed.
Arredondo does the walk of shame
The rubber match proved to be a wild one. Matt Palmer continued his descent back to earth, failing to make it out of the fifth inning despite the fielding heroics of Torii Hunter who left his face outline indented in the Dodger Stadium centerfield wall. The Angels offense, clearly stoked by the impending return of Vladimir Guerrero, with every starting Angel position player collecting at least one base hit. Though Darren Oliver tried to ignite another bullpen meltdown, the Angels staved off a Dodger comeback to take the series.
All excitement stemming from Vlad Guerrero’s first game back from injury was quickly dispelled after Ervin Santana imploded against the ChiSox, digging the Angels a 7-3 hole before giving way to Rafael Rodriguez who threw some gasoline on the fire and let the lead balloon to 13-3. Finally the game came to a merciful end at 17-3. There is no sense delving too much into the events of this game; it was just one of those terrible days that every team has once or twice a year. So long as Santana’s health checks out OK, the Angels should just write this one off and move on.
- Juan Rivera is finally starting to come alive, collecting six hits over the last three games including a home run. Sosh is finally giving him some consistent playing time and it is paying off, now he just needs to stick with it despite Vlad being back. For some reason he just can’t resist the temptation to rotate Rivera with Gary Matthews despite the obvious difference in productivity.
- Bobby Abreu is back after missing some time with a toe injury. It will be very interesting to see how he is attacked by opposing pitchers with Vlad hitting behind him. Abreu is certainly not that scary since he can’t seem to hit for power anymore and Vlad isn’t nearly as intimidating as he once was. Still, anything that prevents Scioscia from batting Erick Aybar second is always a good thing.
- Mike Napoli finally hit the skids as we all knew he would. He has just one hit over his last 16 at-bats. It is highly possible that he has been worked too hard over the last month, so expect to see a whole lot of Jeff Mathis over the next little while as Napoli tries to rest up on get back on track.