In what has to be the most surprising development of this baseball season, the LAA are just 1.5 games back of the Texas Rangers in the AL West.
Who are these guys? Not one of their hitters are batting .300 or better. Their top home run and RBI guy is a rookie. The 3 catchers are batting less than .200. Their big off-season acquisition isn’t even hitting his weight. And I thought the 2002 team was a bunch of no names.
One thing the Angels do have is 3 great starters. Jered Weaver, Dan Haren, and Ervin Santana may not have the accolades of the 3 top guys of the Phillies, but for this team, they are just as important. I won’t throw in Jerome Williams just yet, but he has looked awesome in his 3 starts.
I know most figured the Angels were feasting on the lower teams in baseball. Games against the Seattle Mariners, Baltimore Orioles, Minnesota Twins and Chicago White Sox have allowed the Angels to pad their record. Things would surely change with the powerful Yankees coming to town. So far that hasn’t happened, as the Angels have pushed around the Bombers through the first 2 games.
Jered Weaver was on his game Friday, holding the Yankees to 1 earned through 8 innings as the Angels won, 2-1. Dan Haren one upped Weaver on Saturday, shutting out the Bombers 6-0.
How dominant were these 2 guys. Weaver retired 12 of the last 13 batters he faced, while Haren retired 18 straight batters at one point in his start. Weaver struck out 11, while walking 2. Haren struck out 7 and walked no one. The ERA for the 2 Angel starters in a sparkling 0.52.
And who is the best clutch hitter on the Angels? The smallest regular on their team, Maicer Izturis. Izturis, who is listed at 5’8, 175, picked up the game winning RBI the past 3 nights. He got Seattle on Wednesday. As a pinch hitter on Friday, his sac fly in the bottom of the 9th won the game. And on Saturday, his RBI double in the 2nd inning was the only run Haren would need.
Izturis is also garnering respect from the Yankees, who intentionally walked him in the 6th inning to load the bases. The Angels didn’t score any runs in the 7th inning, and at that point the Angels were 1-11 with runners in scoring position. From the 7th inning on, the Halos were 3-3 with RISP.
What’s with Jeff Mathis and the Yankees? Mathis burned them a couple years ago in the playoffs, and he keeps burning them now. He’s only hitting .210 against them this year, but all his hits seem to come in the clutch. On Saturday, his 2 out double preceded Izturis RBI 2 bagger. Later in the game, Mathis smacked a 2-run home run, giving the Halos a 5-0 lead. That was Mathis first home run since hitting one on June 19th against the other New York team, the Mets.
There is no questioning the defensive skills of the guy. He really knows how to work a pitching staff. He also snuffed out a Yankee rally on Friday by gunning out Eduardo Nunez in the 9th inning. It was maybe the best throw I have ever seen Mathis make.
I know I keep saying it, but Mike Trout has to be in the lineup every day. I love Bobby Abreu, and tolerate Vernon Wells, but they do not cause the havoc Trout causes almost every game. The minor league player of the year made a play in the 6th inning that not many guys can make. Trout scored from 2nd on Erick Aybars sac bunt. It was a great heads up play, and can only be made by a guy who can run with the wind, while playing heads up baseball. Yes, I know the play didn’t count, but it was impressive none the less. For those of you that don’t know what happened, Aybar’s bunt attempt was called foul, as it bounced off his foot.
I was glad that CC Sabathia didn’t win his 20th game against the Angels. He pitched in and out of jams, but the only run he allowed turned him in to a 8 game loser.
Now I am not myopic, I know the Yankees are playing shorthanded. Alex Rodriguez played Friday, but re-injured himself, and will be out a few days. Nick Swisher is out with an injury, and Russell Martin left Saturday’s game with a finger injury. Still, it’s not like the Angels feature a murderers row of hitters, so you play what ya got.
Make it 2 straight good performances for Jordan Walden. Walden closed out the Yankees on Friday, and picked up his 5th win when the Angels won the game in the 9th.
Through two games, the Halos have help New York to just 1 run. They go for the sweep tomorrow. Ervin Santana will try to win his 12th game of the year. He’ll be opposed by another White Sox castoff, Freddy Garcia. Sweeping the Yankees will be a super tough job, let’s hope Santana is up to the task.
17 games left in the season for the Halos. Every game is a playoff game. I sure don’t think the Rangers are gonna roll over and die.
About the Author
Written by Bill Mahoney
O'kay I'll talk about myself a little. I've been working in the television/radio industry for over 21 years. I started at 2 so I am just a tad over 21 (That is a joke). My career has taken me around and and even out of the United States. Right now I call Vegas home, but I just never know where life will take me next. Until 2002 my irrational love for the California/Anaheim/LAA had taken me down some very dark roads, but with Arte Moreno in charge I finally saw the a light at the end of the road. I really love most every sports and having as much fun as possible.