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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Two Games, CG Edition

Our Savior: Angels 4, Rangers 1

Weaver's fifth complete game of his career, and his fifth straight win this year — where are the Angels minus teh Weav? I don't know, and neither does anyone else. The offense kept moving along by dribs and drabs, posting single runs in four separate innings (including a much-needed homer by Vernon Wells, and a league-leading sixth homer by Howie Kendrick).

For one blessed day — maybe the last this season — the Angels are in first place. Hallelujah, and amen.

ESPN BoxRecap

Garland's For The Victor: Dodgers 6, Braves 1

The second complete game victory of the day, Jon Garland — the ex-Angel and ex- and once again Dodger — posted a complete game win over the Braves, the eleventh of his career. Somehow, somewhere, there's an irony about this, but I can't now find it.

On a day when Frank is scurrying into conferences with his legal team to investigate ways he can keep the franchise that is steadily evading his grasp, this complete game win seems utterly apropos: a brief celebration of the great things of baseball that allow us to overlook its transcendentally vile business dealings.

ESPN BoxRecap

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So much to say about the McCourt situation but not enough time right now, so I'll restrict myself to a brief comment on the Angels. Considering that the team just took 2 out of 3 on the road against the defending division champ, it hardly seems to be the right time to choose as the Halos' potential last day in first place. The team is still missing a couple of key players, yet sits atop the division with the second-best record in all of baseball. To be sure, the weekend series with Boston (a much better team than its record would indicate) will tell us more, but make no mistake: the Angels have the pitching (both in the rotation and in the bullpen) to be in the fight all year.
It seems to me that the bullpen is pretty thin, with or without several key pieces; Rodney is a crapshoot as to effectiveness on any given day, and ditto Kevin Jepsen (who is starting to look like he belongs on a second-division team) and Jason Bulger, the Angels' twin bullpen busts.

On the plus side, Mark Trumbo seems to be progressing nicely as a surprise major leaguer (I always reckoned him as a AAAA type, i.e. Rob Deer or Adam Dunn with less power and almost as many strikeouts). Jordan Walden is performing surprisingly well as the team's closer. Alberto Callaspo seems similarly useful. Peter Bourjos is hitting out of his mind. In short, the team is getting some good production from guys who they have no right to expect to continue at this level, but the contra as you say is that Torii Hunter and Vernon Wells shouldn't be this bad, either -- and it looks very much like Wells turned a corner in this series.

We'll see. It's shaping up to be a far more interesting season for the Angels than I anticipated.
Trumbo has already far exceeded my expectations. I figured he would make Brandon Wood look like Hank Aaron. Even if he never gets another hit, he will still have proven me wrong.

As for the bullpen, I'm happy with Walden. Rich Thompson has convinced me that he belongs as well, and I still think Michael Kohn will be a useful piece in the near future. Don't forget Scott Downs, though it's easy to do so given that he has pitched all of what, two innings? I doubt Bulger will still be on the active roster by the All-Star break. As for Rodney, I might leave off the second syllable of the term you used, but show me a team that doesn't have question marks in its pen. Performance by relief pitchers tends to be somewhat volatile; as Angels fans, we've gotten spoiled over the past decade by several reliably good arms.

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