The Angels beat the Nationals 4-3 last night thanks to a walk off single by Maicer Izturis in the bottom of the 1oth inning. Naturally- the Halos stormed the filed mauling Maicer and any-other white jersey – red capped adult in their path. Angels closer Jordan Walden was likely the most relieved among the bunch. It was Walden who after giving up a two out solo home run to Danny Espinosa who put the Angels in extra innings to begin with. The blown save was Walden’s third consecutive mishap and second in just two days. While the umps blew two calls in the Dodger game Sunday it was still Walden’s fault that the blues were able to effect the outcome. When you inexplicably walk two bad hitters ( Juan Uribe and Dioner Navarro ) to lead off an inning – bad things happen.
So it begs the question – how safe is Walden as Angels closer?
Given Scioscia’s track record for loyalty the answer is Jordan job is likely not in jeopardy. Scott Downs who would be the likely option to replace Walden has been super effective in his current setup role and frankly the Angels don’t have anyone who could fill his shoes in the setup capacity. The more likely scenario is that Michael Kohn may get a look the next time the Angels are in a save situation. It was Kohn who mopped up the mess after Walden’s blown save in Florida last week. The time off could be good for Walden who still has the potential to be a lights out closer.
The issue for Walden of late has been slider command and fastball location. Walden has not been able to throw is slider for a strike which allows hitters to sit dead red. Despite the fact that Jordan’s heater routinely touches 98 – 100 miles per hour – when hitters can sit on one pitch hitting that pitch becomes easier no matter how hard you throw it. To compound matters Walden has not been able to locate the fastball in pitcher friendly locations. The pitch last night to Espinosa for instance was supposed to be low and away but instead Walden missed location and the fastball was thrown middle in. Espinosa didn’t miss.
Tie Game – 3rd straight Blown Save – Enter Izturis stage right.
For the Angels who have been playing good baseball of late (9-4 in their past 13 games) its imperative Walden gets right. A couple of days off could potentially do just that.