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Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Skip To My Loux: Angels 5, A's 3

Seriously, what's going on with the Angels' emergency starters? At starting time today, the Angels had the best starting staff by ERA in the AL (3.71 ERA), yet the worst bullpen in the league (7.40 ERA, almost a full run worse than the Yankees). Shane Loux had another damn good start tonight, going seven innings of one-run ball to save the team from exposure to another crappy meltdown from the team's arsonist relievers.

That almost happened. Despite a wonderful and all-too-rare 1-2-3 inning in the eighth provided by a just-returned Darren Oliver (who has been one of the big positive surprises in the Angels' relief corps in recent years), Scot Shields once more fell down and went boom by giving up a walk to Jason Giambi and a home run to the deepest part of the yard to Matt Holliday just after that. Holliday, you may recall, has been struggling with the A's, hitting a paltry .223/.270/.351 with two home runs prior to tonight. Shields leaving one up on a tee over the middle of the plate was a gift, but just about any major leaguer could have nailed that meatball. Brian Fuentes brought home the win without any further ado, but blecch.

On the other side of the plate, the Halos' offense continued its late effectiveness, pretty much mangling Dallas Braden for five runs over six innings. Mike Napoli finally was silenced with an 0-for-4 night, but a surprisingly effective Gary Matthews, Jr. knocked in three of the Angels' five runs. 3-for-4 Chone Figgins drove in the other two; a great night overall for the Angels, who still are one game under .500 but 5-2 on this road trip.

Update: It occurred to me that I should mention Loux has, with this win, surpassed his single-season win total. Congratulations, Shane!

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Shields has always been terrible in Oakland, so the HR was pretty much expected. He did get jobbed on one pitch in that AB, at Holliday's belt, which was inexplicably ruled high. IIRC, that was strike 3.

Whatever; Oliver's return means a lot to the 'pen (and Fuentes has been mostly good). The imminent return of both Lackey (strong 4 2/3 in SLC tonight) and Santana (4 2/3 yesterday at Rancho Cucamonga, and more importantly no pain today) means additional reinforcements are on their way. If Loux continues to be serviceable, it's entirely possible that by sometime in June, Kelvim Escobar could be pitching in relief. By the ASB, the pen could be: Fuentes, Shields, Arredondo (who looked great last night), Oliver, Escobar and pick one from Loux, Speier, Moseley, Jepsen, etc. In other words, despite everything, they might be OK. Oh, and they're only 2 games out of first. Texas will fade as the summer draws near, and I'm not sold on the Mariners.
I'd be more excited about the pitching this series, but the A's offense is pretty weak and they had a long game Sunday in Seattle.
Shields' career numbers at the Oakland/McAfee/Network Associates/Oakland Coliseum: 5.88 ERA, far worse than I remembered. Fenway I remembered but forgot Oakland.

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