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Sunday, August 09, 2009

The Limitations Of The Strikeout Pitcher: Rangers 7, Angels 0

John Lackey recorded eight of his 20 outs by means of the strikeout, but as has been often the case with him this year (and pretty consistently against Texas), he kept leaking baserunners. Some of these weren't his fault, as in the fourth, when Bobby Abreu muffed a routine catch of Esteban German's lineout, turning it into a two-base error, and again in the fifth, when David Murphy reached on catcher's interference. In the end, Lackey only got charged for two earned runs, but it really wasn't a very compelling performance. Unlike Derek Holland, who got early count outs virtually the whole game, Lackey was constantly throwing a ton of pitches to every Texas batter. It didn't work.

The lineup was minus regulars Kendry Morales, Mike Napoli, and Chone Figgins, but none of them have been especially hot in this series, and given how well Holland was throwing today, it's doubtful they would have made a difference offensively. Defensively, it's possible that Napoli might not have airmailed a throw in the top of the sixth that allowed Esteban German to take third, and in the seventh allowed recently called up Julio Borbon to steal second on a pitch out. In the fourth, Lackey and Robb Quinlan collectively got away with an uncharged error, as neither made it to the first base bag in time to receive a throw from Howie Kendrick, allowing Hank Blalock to reach, and the inning to continue. Abreu's misplay of German's line drive fly was next, and allowed two runs to score.

It's still early, of course, relative to the number of games left in the season, and the Angels lead the division by three and a half games, but I couldn't help but recall my enthusiasm after Vlad blasted a game-winning homer off Rangers closer Francisco Cordero to reduce the Angels' magic number to four after a season in which they trailed the A's virtually the whole year; only a late collapse of Oakland's starting rotation ultimately saved their season.

The Angels' starters look mighty beat up this year, too.

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