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Saturday, June 13, 2009

Nothing That A Good Blowout Couldn't Cure: Angels 11, Padres 6

I suppose I should mention first that, per an HH post citing the postgame TV show, Howard Kendrick has been shipped down to AAA to re-find himself. Mark Saxon suggested such a thing earlier in the day, but it's not like he's the first guy to do it; hopefully, he comes back "Howie", the guy who could hit, and not "Howard", the guy who can't.

Howard was out of the lineup today, anyway, and miraculously, the Angels pounded out 11 runs, a season high, on 18 hits, also a season high. If you think the Angels have troubles, the Padres would like to introduce you to their rotation:

If you're starting to see a pattern here, it's that every single Padres starter has a sub-100 ERA+. The Padres, generally, are a bad team, but thanks to the Wild Card they're only four games out of a playoff spot. Basically, they have to hope their pitching can hold together and that their offense will improve. That'll be hard to do because they have the second-worst offense in the league by runs scored, despite placing ninth in home runs. A good deal of that success can be laid at the feet of one Adrian Gonzalez, head and shoulders the best offensive player on a very weak-hitting team.

It's not entirely the Pads' players fault; owner John Moores' divorce forced a sale that left the team in a bad way during the offseason, and so a sort of fire sale occurred. Not that unloading weak-hitting (and increasingly expensive) Khalil Greene was a mistake, considering his demotion to third-string shortstop with the Cardinals.

But back to the game. Matt Palmer retired the side in order in the top of the first, the Angels came back to pound Gaudin for three in the bottom of the frame (including two on a Torii Hunter home run), and problem solved, right? Of course not, because Palmer wobbled through the second, giving up a run on four hits, and frankly he was lucky not to give up more. Tony Gwynn, Jr.'s inning-ending lineout to center was a screamer, and what a find he has been for the Pads.

It actually looked like another big inning was in store for the Halos as Maicer Izturis, playing second, led off the second with a triple. Mike Napoli, perhaps pressing, struck out looking, but Erick Aybar drove in Izzy; however, the big inning failed to appear. The Pads then came marching back in the third with back-to-back doubles off David Eckstein (whose "double" was perhaps a bit generous because Figgins tipped it with his glove into foul territory) and Brian Giles (having his best night in a while and only his seventh multi-hit game of the year).

Palmer dodged and weaved through six, somehow containing the Pads' pitiful offense to only four runs. As seems usual with him, he got better as the game progressed, but since he threw so many pitches in the second through fourth innings, he got yanked after six. He got some help from his defense, including a nifty inning-ending 3-6-3 double play started by allegedly lead-gloved Kendry Morales to end the fifth.

Amazingly, the Angels managed to contain the younger (Adrian) Gonzalez (another trade the Rangers regret), but not Kevin Kouzmanoff, who got three hits in the game, one of them a two-out, two-run jack in the seventh off an increasingly shaky Darren Oliver. Justin Speier held his own in the eighth with the seven through two batters. That included a thank-God-for-slow-catchers 2-3 wild pitch strikeout of ex-Dodger Henry Blanco that ended up at the backstop; Napoli recovered and hurled a strike to Kendry Morales, who just managed to keep a toe on the first base bag to record the out before tottering off into foul territory.

The Angels beat the snot out of Gaudin in the fourth, launching a fusillade that started with a Morales solo blast into the rockpile, and ending with Gaudin getting the hook following an Erick Aybar RBI single, and a sloppy play by centerfielder Gwynn, Jr.; Napoli, who reached third as a consequence of a throwing error by shortstop Luis Rodriguez, easily scored on Aybar's single, and then Aybar took second when Gwynn mishandled the ball and then threw it errantly to second.

The Angels tacked on single runs in the fifth and eighth against relievers Edwin Moreno and Mike Adams; this is not the Padres' bullpen of yore, full of nasty relievers lined up waiting to feed you to the doom of Trevor Hoffman. Cla Meredith made an odd two-inning appearance in the sixth and seventh, giving up two baserunners but otherwise not doing anything to make manager Bud Black's blood pressure rise.

The Angels are a bad team this year, but the Padres are a much worse one. Gotta beat the bad teams.

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