After a rough start to the season the Angels have finally found the momentum swinging in their favor after the 4-1 victory earlier this afternoon. This not only marks the Angels first two consecutive wins on the season, but their first series win as well. This was a series that could have turned ugly very quickly after the loss in the opener (to the lowly Astros of all teams), instead this was very much the turning point for the Angels season that everyone predicted it would be. The last few series might be official on the books, but to me the Angels season didn't start until this weekend against the Astros. I'm not complaining, but teams like the A's and Rangers opened their season against teams like the Astros and Rangers while the notoriously slow starting Angels go up against two of the best teams in baseball off the bat. They haven't had the chance to take a deep breath take the game in stride, but they were able to this weekend against the Astros. Instead of have to face top of the line teams with a world of pressure on your shoulders they took it down to the level of simply playing baseball, and when the Angels are just playing the game the way it was meant to be played they're one of the best teams in baseball.
Case in point.
-- I don't know about you guys, but I'm loving Luis Jimenez right now. Wait...I actually do know you guys love him because only an idiot couldn't love what he's showing, and I know none of you guys are idiots. Last night Jimenez pulls together a clutch walk and double which were incredibly important in the outcome of the Angels eventual victory over the Astros. He's showing that the plate discipline problem many suspected would plague his early major league career is very much in check, the fact that he's actually pulling together walks in high pressure situations is very telling since not many young players like him can display plate discipline and a trust in his eye in such tough spots to begin their career. I'm already thinking he can be a permanent addition to the roster, both him and Conger have been showing up strong (though Conger a tad less with his defense) and proving they need to be on the roster. I'm not surprised Jimenez would shine so early on since he has to be aware of the fact that this might be his only shot to do so. I know it's early to call this but I would implore the Angels to consider dropping Romine back down in favor of keeping Jimenez on board. It's not like Brendan Harris won't be able to cover short or second base, he's proved his defense is very adequate to cover these spots. The Angels would be far stronger with a guy who can off-handedly pop doubles off his bat and perform well in tough spots, something Romine hasn't shown to be too capable of. That's just something to think about.
-- Even though C.J Wilson looked incredibly worrisome in the first inning he pulled through the bases loaded jam which went on to set the tone for the game, a tone the starters have been having trouble setting. Wilson kept things in check for once this season, and even when he did choke up the lead early by letting the Astros tie the game immediately after the Angels took a 1-0 lead in the 1st off of Josh Hamilton's infield RBI (scoring Trout). The offense also did something they haven't been doing much of, and that's backing up their starters after having a rough inning. The biggest key to taking control of a game is the offense backing up their pitching when they're off, if a lineup can keep the runs coming through a pitcher's struggles it will lead to inspire the whole team to victory. After Mike Trout's solo shot to give the Angels a 2-1 lead Wilson kept the door shut on the Astros, which was kept shut by the bullpen. Wilson gave the 'pen somewhat of a break by going 6 innings, which is a luxury for the team at this point.
-- The bullpen continued to do a rather fine job in the series by keeping the Astros locked down after taking the ball from C.J. Sean Burnett was fantastic in his appearance tonight, which continues to kept me baffled as to why he isn't pitching in a more significant role out of the bullpen. I'd much rather see him pitching set-up over Scott Downs, whose proven to be inadequate out of the 'pen in the early season. I know the Angels had a three run lead today but Scioscia is still putting Scott Downs in the 8th and I don't like it one bit. It just grinds my gears.
All these people. All of them. Hamilton, Wilson, Pujols, Trout; and even Weaver (because Weaver will always be a hero in my heart). Hamilton is finally coming around as an Angel, it's not that he's just starting to hit bombs; he's starting to do a lot of the little things. He's hitting triples, infield hits, doubles, great defense; he's playing like an all-around superstar right now. I like how Wilson bore down and fought through serious opposition to give his team the win, which pretty much defines a hero to me. Trout and Weaver are eternal Halo Heroes, never to be removed from their placement as such. It's also nice to see Albert Pujols circa-St. Louis as he's been as of late, and what surprises me is I'm not worried at all about him being able to keep it up.
Everyone's firing on all cylinders now; this is going to be a great season.