Dan Haren makes his Angel debut on Monday against the mighty Red Sox and young stud Clay Buchholtz. It should be great entertainment. Follow the game on the Hangout as well to get real-time, in-depth analysis of Haren’s first game.
1st inning: Haren immediately shows his repertoire. He has a 92-93 mph 4-seam fastball, 87-88 mph 2-seamer, and a nasty mid-80’s split-finger which is easily his best pitch. It’s a little concerning that he seems to lack an above-average off-speed pitch, but every pitch looks like the fastball coming out of his hand and he uses this deception extremely well. He struck out J.D Drew on a darting splitter and the look on Drew’s face afterward does a good job to explain the difficulty batters with that pitch. The ball explodes towards the plate like a fastball, then sharply drops down and slightly away. This late break is unusual coming from a right-handed arm and the pitch seems to be equally devastating to both lefties and righties. Youkilis turned on a Haren fastball with a hard-hit single to left field, but Haren ended the inning by striking outDavid Ortiz on another splitter . Striking out two elite-hitting lefties in the 1st inning is a great way to endear yourself to your new hometown fans.
2nd inning: Haren just got tagged. The Red Sox have quickly adjusted on him and are aggressively attacking his fastball. Beltre crushed a deep fly to center field that Torii Hunter managed to get his glove on but ended up a triple after Hunter lost track of the ball and mistakenly assumed it was over the fence. Victor Martinez then slapped another fastball to center field, driving in Beltre. The next batter Jed Lowrie crushed yet another fastball for a double. Haren responded by using his splitter and cutter to strikeout Mike Cameron. Jeremy Hermida then smoked a fastball, but right at 1st basemen Mike Napoli who threw home to record the out at home. Haren got out of the jam by getting Pedroia to swing over a nasty splitter and ground out. Haren is through 2 with 4 hits and 3 strikeouts. It’s pretty obvious that his fastball is not really fooling hitters and that his splitter is his go-to pitch. Fastball command is likely an issue.
3rd inning: Haren doesn’t mess around. He works quickly and goes after hitters. He got Drew out on 2 pitches, the second being the splitter. He finished Youkilis with a 3 pitch strikeout, punctuated by his best pitch of the night; an absolutely devastating splitter which actually looked like a change-up. Unfortunately, David Ortiz was waiting on Haren’s first offering: a get-me-over fastball. Solo blast to right-field. Beltre was up next and hit a single off a first-pitch fastball as well. Haren then got into a full-count against Victor Martinez after starting him off 0-2, but got the strikeout with an excellent 2-seam fastball that started towards the lefty batter and veered late over the plate. Haren’s line thus far: 3 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 5 Ks, 41 pitches. A very typical 2010 start for the big righty, thus far.
4th inning: Haren showed good command against leadoff guy Lowrie. He located his fastball away and finished off the lefty with a sharply-breaking 2-seam fastball. The pitch is very tough on lefties. Next, Cameron popped up on the first pitch and Haren finished off Jeremy Hermida with a well-located 4-seam fastball on the outer edge of the zone. Haren showed excellent command of his fastball in the inning and that certainly seems to be the litmus test of how “on” he is. When he can’t locate the pitch where he wants, he gets hit. When he’s painting the corners with it, he blows through hitters. He’s already got 7 strikeouts in 4 innings.
5th inning: Scutaro grounded to short after swinging over the top of a Haren 2-0 split-finger. Haren knows how to pitch. Youkilis just drilled Haren in the wrist with a line drive up the middle. Haren initially in agony and then is removed from the game. Wow. This Angel season might be cursed. Unbelievable. We’ll let you know the update with Haren as soon as it is available. Extremely disappointing end to a really exciting day.