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Sunday, July 22, 2007

Ones Upon A Time: Angels 7, Twins 2

Garret Anderson's third-inning homer ended the Angels' home run drought, and more importantly prevented a sweep at the hands of the Twins, providing the game-winner. Maybe most importantly, Casey Kotchman went 2-for-3, driving in two, his first multi-hit game since the Dodgers series in which he got concussed by a Russell Martin fastball pickoff attempt. It was also the first time he's driven in two runs since the July 1 game against Baltimore. Thinking optimistically (yes, you may infer I've been clocked by a fastball), it could portend a general renaissance in Kotchman's offense.

Or, it might mean nothing, but as I said, the signs are auspicious. He walked in the first to set up a bases-loaded walk by Izturis, managed a single to right in the sixth, instead of rolling out to first or second, and got a sac fly in the seventh to plate Figgins. Clearly, it was his best game since his return from the DL, and if he's well, the Angels might be on their way to recovery from their late funk. You know things are going well when the team gets not one but two runs on bases-loaded walks.

It was part and parcel of an Angels offense that never had any big rallies, but bled the Twins white by scoring single runs over seven frames. Mike Napoli walked and got a hit, getting on base twice; four other Angels got two hits, and little-used Nathan Haynes even reached on an error.

Meantime, Joe Saunders compressed the Twinks' offense, retiring the side in order three times, and facing one over the minimum in two other, scoreless frames, going seven strong innings. It certainly makes me feel a lot more sanguine about Saunders over the longer haul, small sample size issues duly noted. He's proven he belongs in the Show, of course until or unless he shows otherwise.

By the time the game got to the bullpen there wasn't much danger, so Justin Speier took eighth inning duties, and Dustin Moseley pitched a scoreless ninth facing Minnesota's 6-7-8 batters. It was definitely a welcome tonic after the recently unwatchable contests the Angels have assembled.

Postscriptum: The Mariners lost to the Blue Jays 8-0, partly thanks to Troy Glaus's two-run blast in the fifth, beating up Felix Hernandez ultimately for six runs. Roy Halliday was nearly perfect, three-hitting the M's in a complete game with only three strikeouts. Seattle ends the day two games behind the Angels.

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I'll say he deserves to be in the show. In 19 starts he has a record of 11-3 with 14 quality starts. The Angels have won 15 of the 19 games Joe has pitched.

Maybe that needs to be repeated: The Angels have won 15 of the 19 games Joe Saunders has pitched.

All that said, Detroit will be a big test. But he set them down in their own house to the tune of one earned run over seven and a third last September, so fingers crossed.
I don't have enough fingers to cross.
I just noticed that Moseley and Ramon Ortiz both pitched in the game. Interesting considering they were traded for each other.

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