If I had told you Jason Vargas would make his best start of the year against the Mariners you would have to likely assume the Angels would come away with the win. Well, despite Vargas giving up only 2 runs in 8 innings of work the Angels faced another stomach-churning late-inning loss. Although Vargas pitched fantastically in his first start in his old home ballpark he was outdueled by Angel killer Hisashi Iwakuma. It's not really to surprising to me that the Angels lost to Iwakuma as they're never able find a way to get the better of him offensively. The Angels have fallen to 9-15, just barely a step ahead of the pace they set for themselves last year. Even though that doesn't sound so great if the Angels had started out at this place last year they would have been in a far better position to make the playoffs at the end of the season, so there's that. Regardless of the fact that their little see-saw game is starting to get a little pathetic after giving away the Seattle series the last two games I still believe the Angels will win 20 before they lose 20.
That's just hopefully speculation at this point, because at this point right the the Angels aren't looking too hot.
-- Even though Vargas came away with the unfortunate loss today he put up his best start as an Angel by far. Vargas allowed only 2 runs across 8 innings, as well as 7 strikeouts to 2 walks, but it wasn't enough to cover for the lack of support by the Angels offense. If the Angels follow the track record they've set down for themselves I wouldn't be surprised to see them put on an offensive show next time out, they'll probably earn a win for the starting pitcher even if he serves up 6 runs. The way this team is built they can handle it if their pitching is suspect, but the offense just has to be on top of it's game every night out. This series was the Angels "feast or famine" moment, and now that they're starved you can bet they'll be going into the next series hungry. A bad team takes series like this lying down, but a good team comes out of this hungrier than ever. We'll just have to see how they decide to respond following this series loss to Seattle.
-- I don't really know what to say about the offense. I can go down the line and point out what each guy was doing wrong, but that would be far too much material for just one article. The Angels couldn't even earn their own run, they had to take it off of bad fielding on the part of Robert Andino. The only thing that really came away from this game was Peter Bourjos continual growth in the leadoff spot; where many felt he would falter because of his lack of hitting and on base ability he is thriving. He's continuing to prove that his off-year last year was just a fluke, though I don't think many of us doubted that. He's cut down on his strikeouts and worked his plate discipline, and most importantly he's refined his bunting to a dangerous asset when paired with his speed. The biggest plus to Bourjos' game playing is his ability to capitalize on infield hits, I don't think anyone can beat them out as well as he does. This is supported by the fact that he currently leads the majors in infield hits. Talk about a leadoff man with threatening speed.
-- This is the spot that I usually reserve for talk of the bullpens failures (or less commonly, successes), but since Vargas took this game the whole way we can all breathe a sigh of relief that the bullpen stayed away from todays game. The bullpen isn't really as bad as people make it out to be, they've just been overworked massively this past week. Even though the Angels lost this game there is still the fact that the bullpen got a much needed day off so they can come into the next series pressure free. As long as the next starting effort can be taken 6-7 innings this teams bullpen will be in a fine position to pitch effectively in whatever situation they are called into. Nothing can break a bullpen harder than being overworked, especially when they're overworking themselves and all they have to show for it is a series of losses.
I hope you didn't expect to see Vargas thrown here just because he pitched this team to a loss today. No, a guy who goes 8 innings and only gives up 2 runs is definitely not a game-breaking asshole. Everyone was just so bad in this collective loss that I can't really pin down one guy who deserves more blame than others.
Lets just hate on this asshole instead