I'm really starting to like the 2011 incarnation of the Los Angeles Angels. If you remember the 2002 Angels, most of that team was made up of home grown talent that made it's way through the farm system together. That team was built on solid starting pitching, good team speed and timely hitting. Now it's early to make such a lofty comparison, I know, but it is nice to see players that weren't overpaid for (although they still exist), who are hungry for playing time, and seem to be part of a geniunely cohesive team. Today's game fit that blueprint with Tyler Chatwood getting his first major league win, Hank Conger cementing himself as the #1 catcher, and the Angels continuing a four game win streak.
Angels 7 White Sox 2
The catching position is now Conger's to lose. Not only did Conger blast one into the seats to cement the victory, he threw a bullet to get Juan Pierre out stealing second and guided Chatwood to an efficient seven inning outing. When Ken Rosenthal of Foxsports is reporting your time is limited, then Jeff Mathis should really start to worry. (Garrett has some more thoughts on this later that are far better phrased than mine.)
Anyone notice Torii Hunter struggling? Lost in all the Vernon Wells talk (who had two hits and a great base running play to get the first run of the game) is that Torii is really struggling to hit. Everything is a harmless pop up or a lazy ground ball to short. Hunter looks like he is trying to be a power hitter rather than relaxing and hitting balls in the gaps. One of the unforseen concerns with Kendrys Morales out is that Hunter has been miscast as a clean-up hitter when he is really a three or five hole guy.
Keep up the pressure. The Angels never let up on poor Gavin Floyd and it eventually paid dividends. The Halos had runners on all day and had runners in scoring psoition in the first four innings. Even though they didn't cash in at first, the fact that Floyd had to throw a lot from the stretch made him a little wilder than normal and in the end allowed the Angels to put some crooked numbers up. Big kudos to Maicer Itzuris and Howie Kendrick for their combined 5 hits, 3 RBI's, and 2 runs scored.
Paging Victor and Mark. How bad was the announcing for this game? Kenny Albert and Mark Grace were so boring and so disinterested in in the game that I was actively pining for Mark Gubizca and his less than steller voice. It seemed that they were more interested in the promos and the state of Chicago sports. Albert couldn't seem to get Alberto Callaspo's name right till about the fifth inning and Grace (who I have seen have better days) appeared to be just recycling one cliche after another. I swear, Fox, if you stick me with these two any time again this year I may have to seek some sort of legal action.
Tyler Chatwood was awesome in his first big league win. Chatwood went 7 innings, made only one real mistake in the homerun to Carlos Quentin, and was never really pressed to get out of trouble. What I originally thought was his nerves now appears to be that he just works really quickly. Chatwood still hasn't let his fastball really get out and run and I still think his stuff is a bit straight, but today he was brilliant. It's always great to see a kid get his first win and it would appear that he will be in line to get at least one or two more starts. If he can repeat this start or even come close, then the Angel staff will really be something special when Joel Piniero gets healthy. Congrats Tyler and welcome to The Show.
This was an odd game for a player who should be helping the Angels more than he has to this point. Far as long as I was able to watch the game (damn you, rain delay!), Vernon Wells actually looked like he was in the game. He hit the ball well enough to get two hits and I didn't see him forget how many outs there were, commit an error, airmail a throw or do any of the (stupid) things that have become pretty common for him in early in this season. I had begun to think I was watching Juan Rivera out there except for the lack of some trendy hairdo.
What do we take away from this? Was it the shift to center field? It's pretty obvious he should not be out there daily but is playing left not his cup of tea? Is it a sort of self-induced ADD that causes him to drift into the mental limbo we came to associate with Rivera and the excuse is there's not enough action in left to keep him awake? He did sort of allude to that in a post-game interview. I'm just wondering, is all.
And, again, why isn't Wood making the starts at third against left-handers? This kid can field in a way that Callaspo can only hope to do in his best dreams. Callaspo will need to raise his slugging percentage about 200 points to forgive the glove I've seen from him so far this season.
Insert the word "wet" into a previous sentence.