As if the Blue Jays weren't happy enough about trading away Vernon Wells because of his contract, they got a nice cherry on top tonight as the slumping slugger(?) single-handedly short-circuited the Angel offense, leading to the Halo staying unlit for this season's home opener.
As luck (in this case bad luck) would have it, I was just arguing with some other Angel bloggers about why it is so important that Vernon Wells get his act together. My point was that the Halos need to have another potent bat in the middle of the order so that Torii Hunter doesn't have to do it all himself.
Guess what happened tonight? Hunter got no help from Wells and Torii had to carry the offense, but it wasn't enough. Me 1, Other People 0.
Yup, Vernon did exactly what I expected him to (Me 2, Other People 0) and put way too much pressure on himself to produce and it predictably worked against him as he murdered three consecutive rallies or potential rallies. His failure only underscore my point about him needing to be a consistent middle of the order threat. The top of the order was supposed to be the weak link in the Angel order this year, but tonight, the trio of Izturis-Kendrick-Abreu got on base seven times, which is usually the recipe for a big run-scoring night. Alas, that wasn't to be because even though Hunter did his part (as he always does), Wells failed and failed hard, bringing the offensive attack to a grinding halt in the process.
That's the real shame of it here. The top of the order is ON FIRE right now, but the Angels still aren't scoring runs in droves. In fact, the only time they've scored over five runs in a game was in KC during a game where they had gale-force winds blowing out to left field. This offense should be so much better right now and it just isn't, in large part because of Vernon Wells.
Don't take this as a hatchet job on Wells either. He just had a bad night and he is off to a terrible start to his season, but he will snap out of it. But when he does, he better stay locked in for a long, long time, because if he is going to be an up and down hitter all season, so are the Angels because when he doesn't hit, they don't score, which we saw all too clearly tonight.
- VERY interesting that Hank Conger got the start tonight. The Angels were coming off of a day off, so it isn't like Mathis needed the rest. It also was Hank's second start, whereas Bobby Wilson has made just one. Considering how well he handled Ervin Santana tonight and Weaver in his previous start, can Scioscia really say that his defense isn't up to snuff? Conger had a lot of success in his brief 2010 audition too, so this doesn't seem like a fluke. Maybe, just maybe this means Hank won't be demoted to the minors when Pineiro comes off the DL, as was expected.
- I don't know if it was Conger's game-calling or the guidance of MIke Butcher, but Ervin Santana looked pretty sharp tonight. Yes, he lost and gave up three runs, but the Magic Man pounded the crap out of the strike zone. Now, I don't think that Sosh should have left Ervin in for the eighth inning since the Jays finally got to him in the seventh, but it is hard to blame Sosh since Ervin only needed 99 pitches to get through eight innings (Gee, ya think Sosh maybe doesn't trust the pen yet? Can't imagine why). Santana can be streaky, but he looks like he is on his game this season, which would be great as the Halos really need him to be a consistent presence.
- You know, Fernando Rodney looked alright tonight. I'm not saying he was dominant or anything, but even Gubi noted how much cleaner his mechanics looked compared to his first two games. I thought for sure it would take Fraudney more time to work out of his slump, but he seemed pretty serviceable in this game. Another game or two like that and he might get to move back into a late-inning role, hopefully not the closer's job though (I still say that job is now Walden's to lose).
- One thing I did not get right (not that I ever do) is my pre-game prediction of Trumbo going deep. I really thought he had it in the ninth inning on the high curve from Rauch, but Mark just missed it, which hurt both my prediction and the Angels comeback effort.
- Seriously, Mark Gubicza needs to lose the goatee. He looks more like Mike Gubicza's evil twin right now.
C'mon, after everything I just described, who else could it possibly be?