Morales mashed the Mariners last night. In a related story, I love alliteration.
Ironically, it was Kendry Morales who was made an example of, along with Howie Kendrick, by Mike Scioscia and demoted to 8th in the batting order. His response was three hits, two home runs and three RBIs. Message received, another master stroke from Mike Scioscia. Of course, the whole reason that Morales was dropped in the order is because he can't hit lefties this season and both of his homers came against righties, but still...
Now as for Kendrick, the results were mixed. His demotion resulted in a double and an RBI single (which naturally came when the Angels were already comfortably ahead, meaning there was no pressure on him). But he fanned twice on the evening as well. Nonetheless, this is a step forward for Truck, sadly. As much as I would like to just point the finger at Kendrick himself for his down season, I can't help but blame the Angel coaching staff. Kendrick is lost at the plate and I believe it is directly a result of the Angels' new emphasis on plate discipline. Howie has never been anything but a react-and-swing hitter, he just can't work a count, but now that they are trying to force him to, it is has devolved him into a guy who just guesses what pitch is coming, which is why he tends to miss breaking balls by ten feet and then a pitch later watches a fastball get thrown right down the middle. They are slowly destroying the psyche of the most promising natural hitter to come through the Angel system in decades. Hiding him in the nine-hole might buy them some time to get his head right though, so I will try to be patient, though I am still formulating plans to launch the Howie Kendrick Anti-Fan Club. If the demotion can get Kendrick going, even a little, I am all for it. In fact, I might demand that Abreu get the same treatment if he doesn't homer by the end of the month.
- Is it too early in the season to start an MVP chant for Torii Hunter? He had a huge three-run double to give the Halos the lead and then came up with two HUGE catches to bail out the bullpen, which brings his season total of game-saving catches to 9,363 (I might be off by one or two, I haven't double-checked my math).
- A nice enough "real" debut from John Lackey, he was hardly spectacular but not bad for a guy who has missed the first month and a half of the season.
Halo Hero of the Night:
- Stop it, Scioscia. Stop it right now. No more Robb Quinlan, PLEASE. He might just be the designated lefty masher in the league. His OPS versus left-handers hasn't been over .700 since 2006 and he is now hitting a robust .150 this year (granted it is just 20 at-bats). What does he bring to the table anymore? Why does he still have a major league job when the Angels could easily call up a guy like Matthew Brown to fill the same role and save half a million dollars? Why not have Brandon Wood take some balls at first for a month and call him up?
- Scioscia continues to be scared out of his mind to use Scot Shields. I am now convinced that he is injured and hiding it from the team. I don't even recall seeing Shields warm-up last night even though it was the kind of game where he was likely to be used.
Morales may have had the two home runs, but Hunter is the one who hit the two-out go-ahead bases loaded double. Hunter is the one that made the diving catch in 8th to save at least one run. Hunter is the one who tracked down the deep fly ball in the 9th to avert a budding Mariner rally.