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Wednesday, May 05, 2010

How Soon Is Win? Red Sox 5, Angels 1

Tonight's marquee matchup between the Angels and their former ace, John Lackey, will rightly take center stage. Following an abusive 8-run, 3.1 IP outing against Tampa Bay on April 19, it looked early like he might be facing some early decline issues whilst in a Red Sox uniform; but not so fast. Remove that one bad outing from his record, and his current 4.50 ERA shrinks to an otherworldly 2.36. That is, the Angels have another rough game ahead of them.

The first thought I had after things went downhill for Ervin Santana in yesterday's game was, at least the Angels had Jepsen to throw into the game. When he came out, he couldn't find the strike zone — possibly due to his early overuse. Still, even despite a gift 4-2-3 double play from an Antarctica-cold David Ortiz, you knew the outcome wasn't going to be happy. Sure enough the game got out of control fast, unhelped by a Juan Rivera misplay against the Green Monster in left that turned into a bases-clearing double.

From there, my thoughts went back to, well, given tomorrow's matchups, when was the last time the Angels were swept in consecutive three-game series? The answer is September 21-27, 2001, in two road series against Texas and Oakland, part of a greater shellacking that saw the team finish 6-15 that month; the Angels didn't win a single game after September 29, losing all seven remaining games for a 75-87 finish. Whatever's wrong with the 2010 squad needs to be identified in a hurry, lest the season run away early, and 2010 become a replay of 2001.

ESPN BoxAngels recap

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It was interesting to look back at the line-ups of that September 2001 losing streak. The core of those line-ups started the next month at 6-14 too, April 2002 - the rest of 2002 is history.

As for what's wrong? I'll throw a few things out there - they've been playing pretty much the upper echelon of AL teams, and Joe Saunders/Matt Palmer are becoming the true pitchers all the stat heads said they was all along - not as good as their record said they were.

But what worries me most is the observation I made the very first day P & Cs reported - it was eerily too quite and it was readily apparent that though the talent is there, there is just not a veteran vociferous leader on our pitching staff. We miss Lackey's mouth more than his arm. As 2010 rolls along, that's what is concerning me most - not the talent on the mound, but the leadership.
I started this post with the assumption that today's game would be the last in the series, but actually it's a seven game set. No matter; the Angels lost the last seven games of 2001, too, though that actually qualified as parts of three series: the last game against the Rangers for the year, a two-game set against the M's, and four against Oakland, all at home. Kersplat.

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