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Friday, May 22, 2009

Payback: Angels 3, Mariners 0

Just as we were debating how long a leash Howie Kendrick deserved, the guy comes up big with a solo shot that provided the team with some excellent insurance. You know your offense is charmed when you're getting home runs from Gary Matthews, Jr., Juan Rivera, and Howie, two of the three in the bottom of the lineup. The M's held the Angels to five hits and actually out-hit them by one, but since none of the M's knocks came with RISP or went over the fence, they didn't much matter.

I don't think this is a turnaround for Kendrick; Scioscia himself said it in the Times' postgame interview:

"That ball was killed," Scioscia said of Kendrick's shot. "He's been searching for it. He's having better at-bats here and there, but he's not at the comfort level he will be. When he gets there, he'll string together a bunch of hits, because this guy can swing the bat."
Could've fooled me so far this season. I'll have to see a couple good weeks before I believe this is real. But certainly the pitching was far better, as Joe Saunders did a 180 from his execrable May 16 outing against Texas.
Thursday night, the left-hander was almost untouchable, striking out three, walking three and allowing only one runner to reach third base to improve to 6-2 and lower his earned-run average to 3.17.

"I could throw strikes when I needed to, and I could throw strikes with more than one pitch when I was ahead or behind in the count," Saunders said, when asked about the difference between the Texas and Seattle games.

"In Texas, I fell behind guys and threw strikes, but they weren't quality strikes.

"It was the end of a tough [3-4] trip. I knew I needed to throw some zeros up there."

Brian Fuentes managed a scoreless ninth, though I note not without giving up a baserunner, a single to Russell Branyan. I'll never trust him the way I used to with Frankie, but that, sadly, was expected. But too much looking at gift horses here: the Angels took the series with this win, and now regroup in Dodger Stadium.

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You trusted Frankie? That seems like rose-glass in the rearview mirror. I think I could dig up at least ten bits of counter-evidence.

As for me, I think Fuentes is as effective as Rodriguez. They have an equal number of saves this season, and his peripherals over the last several years certainly say he is. His peripherals now say he's better, even with the crap ERA and early blown saves. That's not to say I thought he would be...the guy started the season as horseshit, and there's no guarantee an NL mare can cross the stream and keep her knickers up.

But you really have to cut him some slack for giving up a single to Branyan. The guy is simply hitting out of his mind, especially in the past 7 games. Just like Texas was when Hokie J came up against them last week.
That was meant as sarcasm; I certainly never trusted him, but kick it a step down from there at least. Fuentes leaks too many baserunners to be remotely trustworthy.
Also: K-Rod: 1.017 WHIP
Brian Fuentes: 1.5 WHIP

Frankie's on pace to have his lowest WHIP numbers since 2006, while Fuentes has the worst of his career. No doubt some of this is the reversal in leagues, but still... a half a baserunner per inning. Ouch.
Not that interested in WHIP. Most of that came in early April, when he blew chunks out of the gate, and doesn't indicate a trend, so projections against career aren't very useful here.

I'm looking at these stats

Fuentes: 11.2 K/9, 3.5 BB/9
Rodriguez: 9.8 K/9, 4.4 BB/G

I don't see K-Rod's shiny ERA being sustainable if he doesn't cut down those walks. And a KK:B of better than 3:1 is none-too-shabby for Fuentes.
I feel more comfortable with Fuentes than Frankie, and will continue to do so as I look back at the 2/3BB performances he so very enjoyed.

Fuentes has been solid, if not spectacular, and seems to be improving.

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