Anaheim, CA, USA; Los Angeles Angels relief pitcher Garrett Richards (43) pitches during the ninth inning against the Minnesota Twins at Angel Stadium of Anaheim. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Angels Head Home to Face the Blue Birds, Look to Turn Things Around

ANAHEIM – To say that the Los Angeles Angels have had a tough week would be an understatement.  Literally.  Mike Scioscia’s battered club made franchise history Wednesday night after getting swept by the rival Texas Rangers after three straight walk-off home runs.  The Angels limp home to the Big A after three consecutive losses in games where they either led or were tied with the Rangers going into the 9th inning.

Here’s a not-so-fun fact:  the last time a team was swept via three straight walk-off home runs?  The 1999 Montreal Expos.  So yeah, not exactly history the Angels wanted to repeat.

The Angels bullpen has been less than stellar as of late.  According to Angelsbaseball.com, over the past six games, the Angels’ bullpen has posted an 11.34 ERA, giving up 21 runs in 16 2/3 innings and picking up five losses.  You simply cannot win with numbers like that.  Whether it was Ernesto Frieri, newcomer Daniel Stange, or Michael Kohn – one bad pitch was all it took for Rangers’ hitters to make the Angels pay.  Kohn told MLB.com after last night’s loss:

When you make mistakes in the big leagues, guys will make you pay,” said hard-throwing right-hander Michael Kohn, who served up Beltre’s homer. “That’s how the last three games have been going.  That’s what big league hitters do. You make one mistake and they are going to beat you.

Well stated, Mr. Kohn.  While this may seem obvious, it’s true.  That pitch to Beltre was a mistake.  A 95 mph fastball down Broadway is a mistake.  As soon as he threw it I screamed at my T.V. “That’s a mistake!!!”  The Angels learned that you simply can’t make mistakes against guys like A.J. Pierzynski and Adrian Beltre.  Ruining a pitcher’s night is what these guys do.  And they do it quite well, I might add.

The bad news:  the Angels are officially 10 games below .500 and 14 games back in the AL West.  I won’t even go into the Angels’ percentages to make the playoffs, win their division, win a wild card, etc.  I’ve looked at the numbers and trust me when I say that you really don’t want to know.  Really.

Game One:  Josh Johnson vs. Garrett Richards

Johnson is 1-7 with a 6.08 ERA.  This is a great matchup for Richards and a great opportunity for the Angels to get back on track (or at least within single digits of the AL leading Oakland Athletics).  According to MLB.com, the Blue Jays’ Josh Johnson continues to struggle. He gave up more than five earned runs for the third straight start vs. the Astros in his last outing, giving up a total of seven. The issue stems from him flying open toward the first-base side, hurting his command.

Richards is 2-4 while posting a 4.33 ERA.  After a brief stint in the pen, Richards was given the opportunity to take over Joe Blanton’s spot in the Angels’ rotation.  It couldn’t come at a better time for the young 25 year-old, with expectations low and the Halos’ season circling the drain, this is the perfect time for Richards to show Scioscia that he belongs in the rotation in 2014.

Game Two:  Todd Redman vs. Tommy Hanson

Redman is 1-1 with a 3.81 ERA and is coming off of a career start against the Houston Astros.  The Jays right-hander struck out 10 batters and limited Houston to one-run over six innings.  Granted it’s the Astros we’re talking about but still –  those are solid numbers regardless.

Tommy Hanson is 4-2 with a 5.15 ERA.  In Tommy’s defense he really hasn’t been able to find his groove this season – this is his third start since injuring his forearm.  He looked good against the Twins while giving up only one-run, but came back out and got hit hard in the five-run outing against the Oakland A’s.  But then again, who doesn’t give up runs against the division leading Moneyballers?

Game Three:  Esmil Rogers vs. Jered Weaver

Right-handed pitcher Esmil Rogers is 3-5 with a 4.36 ERA.  According to MLB.com, Rogers is coming off his worst start of the season after he allowed eight runs over 4 1/3 innings to the A’s. He is now 0-2 with a 6.43 over his past five starts and it’s possible he could be running out of gas after beginning the year in the bullpen.

Jered Weaver continues to be the ace the Angels can count on week after week.  The Long Beach State alum is currently 5-5 with a 2.84 ERA in a season that has been plagued with early injury.  Weaver threw seven innings of one-hit ball against Texas Monday night.  But we all know how that game ended.

Game Four:  Mark Buehrle vs. C.J. Wilson

Blue Bird lefty Mark Buehrle is 7-7 on the season with a 4.27 ERA.  Buehrle appears to have found his 2005 form – he hasn’t allowed a run during his last 20 innings dating back to July 20th against the Tampa Bay Rays.  Look for this one to be a low scoring game and close match-up on the mound.

Overall, Mr. 100% Handsome has been exceptional during the second half of the season.  The exception being a rough outing against the Rangers Tuesday night, Wilson is 11-6 while posting a respectable 3.48 ERA.  Look for the Angels crafty number two-man to battle hard against the Jays in the final game of the series.

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Tags: C.J. Wilson Jered Weaver Los Angeles Angels Series Preview Toronto Blue Jays

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