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Saturday, May 05, 2012

Bench Boohols, Win: Angels 6, Blue Jays 2

For various reasons, I elected not to write about yesterday's crapfest, a wretched complete game shutout and the second in a row. For those playing the home version of our game, it's been since 1992 since that happened, a 72-90 season for a hapless Angels team that would spend another year at rock bottom before slowly climbing out of their hole. Both of those games — a 2-0 loss by Bert Blyleven to Dennis Rasmussen on 9/29/92 and a 4-0 loss by nonentity Julio Valera to Rick Reed the next day, both against the Kansas City Royals — represented a low-water mark for the franchise.

So if your "last time this happened" story is set against one of the darkest seasons your franchise has ever seen, that's pretty bad indeed. The Angels needed to make a change, and it has seemed to me that Albert Pujols is probably the first thing that needed changing — as in, benching him, something that happened only after the boos started up last night.

So, just as well he was left out of the lineup. The Angels basically didn't miss him, with his substitute, Mark Trumbo, hitting a home run in the sixth, and Mike Trout going yard in the inning before. Kendrys Morales went 3-for-5, all singles but no less impressive for it given the offensive famine previously on display. The defense was equally good, as Torii Hunter showed in the seventh to haul in Rajai Davis' liner, or Trout's handling of Colby Rasmus' long fly ball to center in the fifth.

Most of the beating up took place against Kyle Drabek, who generally has pitched creditably for Toronto this year, and as proof, left the game with a 3.34 ERA despite only pitching five innings while pitching to four batters in the sixth and getting none of them out. For the Angels, C.J. Wilson was, if not perfect, very good, and better than Drabek on this evening. Even better, we got to see the Angels debut of Ernesto Frieri, who walked the first batter and then struck out the side. Nice job, Ernesto, and if that's a bid for the closer's role, you keep on doing that and we may yet see you in the ninth inning in tighter situations.

I am not going to claim that Pujols is responsible for the team's deer-in-the-headlights offense, but it does seem like getting him out has loosened things up.

As an aside, I got to spend some time on the sidelines watching batting practice at field level. It was pretty awesome.

ESPN BoxAngels recap


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