Nice work, John. You still lose, but nice work.
I have an idea. Why not just have the Angel starting pitchers work the first three innings of each game just to keep them fresh and then turn the ball over to the bullpen. I just don't see the point in having them throw needless innings in games when the Angel line-up can't score a run to save its life anymore. Take tonight's game for example. John Lackey churned out another great start and taxed himself for 120 pitches only to have Halo bats fizzle out, scoring just one meaningless run in the bottom of the ninth.
Quality starts is a statistic that has gained popularity in recent years. But like any good metric, it can always be improved upon. I would like to propose tracking a new stat called "wasted quality starts" which counts the number of quality starts a team flushes down the toilet due to poor offensive support. There is little doubt in my mind that the Angels would lead the league in wasted quality starts if it were a real stat because I know off-hand that they have tallied up at least five of them in the last three weeks, counting tonight's performance (or lack thereof).
What really makes wasted quality starts hurt is that you don't even need that many runs to win in a quality start as by their definition, the starting pitcher has allowed three runs at most through a minimum of six innings. If the Angels had just been able to scratch a few runners across the plate, they could have been in a position to win, even if they only had six hits on the night. They did strand four runners in scoring position, so it wasn't as if they didn't have the opportunity, they just couldn't cash any of them in, which is becoming standard operating procedure for them of late.
Not to beat a dead horse or anything, but this horrid hitting slump could not be coming at a more inopportune time. There is precious little time for them to right the ship and get the bats going again for the playoffs, and if the cold streak persists, it is eventually going to get into the heads of the pitchers, who will then start trying to be too perfect on the mound because they'll think that giving up even one run will spell certain doom... like it did in tonight's loss.
If the Angel bats don't get going, this is going to become a very familiar sight in October.
- The lone bright spot of the game was that the Angels got to Papelbon a bit in the ninth. Each batter hit him hard and the scored a run as a result. Paps has been death on the Angels since he first got called up, so it has to give them some confidence to know that they can actually hurt him.
- For those skeptical about the Angels ability to win the AL West, now is the time to get really scared because the Halos have just a half game lead over Boston for the Wild Card, so should the Rangers overtake the Angels for the division lead, it seems entirely likely that the Angels would miss the post-season entirely. On a related note, I think I have recently developed a stomach ulcer.
- It was nice to see Jose Arredondo make his weekly "just in case you forgot I mysteriously suck for no reason" appearance. They are really starting to become a joy to watch.
- I know Mike Napoli is slumping both offensively and defensively, but Jeff Mathis is just miserable too watch at the plate. What do the Angels have to lose by giving Bobby Wilson a start? He, like Mathis, is strong defensively and he can't possibly be any worse than Jeff with the stick. The Angels need all the hitting they can get right now and having Jeff "The Human Out Machine" Mathis in the batting order isn't helping.
- Everyone who touched a bat tonight
Because the Angels might as well have just taken one big collective dump in the batter's box tonight.