Halo Highlights: Angels drop third straight one-run game in Texas’ home opener


Apr 5, 2013; Arlington, TX, USA; Los Angeles Angels second baseman Howard Kendrick (47) steals second base in front of Texas Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler (5) at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

So I live-blogged today partly because I was bored and partly because I thought such a move would encourage people to leave a comment and interact. It turns out, interacting isn’t your strong suit, fair readers, but don’t worry, we’ll get you there.

The Angels lost this afternoon in the heart of Texas.  It was the Rangers’ home opener and they had their best pitcher born on this side of the Pacific going for them in Derek Holland. He pitched very well and the Angels were dropped 3-2 after an Ian Kinsler go-ahead single in the bottom-of-the-eighth. It was the third straight loss for the Halos—all by one run.

But don’t worry Angels’ fans, one-run losses are generally pretty fluky, and unless you’re the Baltimore Orioles, these things tend to even themselves out over time and it’s only been four games. It’s important not to panic, even if the pitching staff is alarmingly thin.

Left-hander Jason Vargas pitched today for the Halos—his debut for the team. He did…okay, I guess. He pitched 5 2/3 innings and gave up only one run while striking out four. He was constantly in trouble, however, as he allowed 10 baserunners, giving up eight hits and two walks. Many of the hits were fluky BABIP dragon-influenced hits and Vargas acquitted himself well in getting out of the jams he put himself into.

Offensively, the Angels couldn’t get much going off of Holland who was the best pitcher in the game by far. He went seven innings allowing two runs, six hits and one walk while striking out five. When some people talk as though the Rangers’ rotation is weak, I feel like they may be forgetting about Holland who is one of the more underrated hurlers in the American League.

Chris Iannetta hit his second home run of the season off of Holland in the third and Mike Trout spanked one off the wall in left for an RBI double in the fifth, which gave the Halos their first in-game lead since Iannetta’s home run in the season opener. However, Adrian Beltre lined a home run off of Garrett Richards in the bottom-of-the-seventh to tie the game and then Kinsler’s single in the eighth put them up for good as Joe Nathan shut the door in the top-of-the-ninth.


Most Important Play of the Game
According to win-probability-added, Kinsler’s single increased the Rangers’ chances of winning by 26.5%, making it (obviously) the most important single play of the game. Beltre’s home run increased their chances by 22.7%.

Player of the Game
According to WPA, the most influential player on the field for either team was Vargas who increased the Halos’ chances of winning by 22.5%, but that was mostly because he kept creating his own high-leverage situations—which he then weaseled his way out of. Derek Holland was excellent and increased his team’s chances of winning by 17.6% even though he left in a tie-game.

The Crazy Thing(s) that Mike Scioscia did
In the top-of-the-fifth, Alberto Callaspo and Iannetta led-off with back-to-back singles, putting runners on first and second with none out while the game was still tied at 1. With Peter Bourjos at the plate, Callaspo took off for third and was easily thrown out by A.J. Pierzynski. Later in the inning, Trout doubled home Iannetta giving the Angels the 2-1 lead. Had Iannetta not been thrown out, the inning’s complexion completely changes and maybe they pile on a few extra runs. With the top of a very good lineup coming up, there was no need to risk such a foolish play.

Again, we can’t assume that the stolen base attempt was Scioscia’s call, but if it was, it was ill-advised. That single play decreased the Angels’ chances of winning by almost 10% — single most damaging self-inflicted occurrence in the whole game for Anaheim.

Random Observation
I quite like the FOX’s broadcast team of Victor Rojas and Mark Gubicza. They may not use a lot of advanced stats principles, but they rarely spout the same boring and often inane platitudes that most announcers do. Having listened to Buck Martinez and Pat Tabler call Blue Jays’ games over the past few years, I have to say it’s a refreshing thing.

The Angels continue their series with the Rangers in Arlington tomorrow as Tommy Hanson makes his Angels’ debut (provided his arm doesn’t fall off in warm-ups) against lefty Matt Harrison who’ll make his second start of the season for the Rangers.