Angels wins series over Twins, prepare for Rangers and Hamilton
By David Rice
The Los Angeles Angels dropped the final game of a 3-game series with the Minnesota Twins 3-0 Thursday afternoon, despite another strong outing by Garrett Richards who took the loss despite pitching 8 solid innings giving up three runs on five hits. The only blemish for Richards was a 4th inning home run by Trevor Plouffe, but unfortunately for the Angels the sizzling offense was held in check by former Angel Ervin Santana who pitched 8 shutout innings while allowing only 4 hits to pick up his 2nd win since coming back from an 80 game suspension due to steroid use. Despite the loss the Angels took the series from the Twins by virtue of winning the first two games, their 7th series victory in their last 8 series (Angels split a 4 game series in Seattle just before the All-Star Break). In the first two games of the series the Angels used the same formula that has helped them win 17 of their last 21 games strong pitching and timely hitting. On Tuesday night Matt Shoemaker, perhaps making his final start before a potential move to the bullpen to make room for the Jered Weaver’s return from the disabled list, pitched six shutout innings and the Angels offense again came through scoring seven runs to win 7-0. Then on Wednesday C.J. Wilson and 4 relievers held the Twins bats in check just enough to earn a 5-2 victory. Wilson pitched five inning giving up two runs on six hits and then Fernando Salas, Trevor Gott, Joe Smith, and Huston Street pitched one shutout inning a piece to close out the Angels 7th consecutive victory since the All-Star break. Chris Ianetta hit his 4th home run in his last 8 games and Kole Calhoun drove in two runs going three for four. Calhoun is batting .339 with 6 home runs and 17 RBI’s in July provided the offense in the 5-2 victory. The most encouraging thing in the win was Street returning to the mound for the first time in 14 days since he injured his groin on July 8th in Colorado. Street only allowed one base runner, a two-walk to Miguel Sano, but he recovered to field a surprise two-out bunt by Plouffe which saw Street bolt off the mound to field the bunt and make a perfect throw to Albert Pujols to pick up his 25th save in 28 chances. For Street it was his 300th save of his career, becoming the second Angel to record their 300th save while wearing an Angel uniform, with Angels career saves leader Troy Percival being the first on July 28th 2004 against the Texas Rangers.
The only negative to come out of the series was two injuries to outfielder David Robertson and third baseman David Freese. Robertson injured his right shoulder running into the wall to chase down a Plouffe drive. He would stay in the game for three more innings before Mike Trout, who started the game as the DH took over when Robertson’s shoulder tightened up. Robertson is listed as day-to-day. Freese’s injury however was more severe as he was hit in the hand in the 4th inning by the Twins Mike Pelfrey. X-Rays showed that Freese broke his right index finger and will be out at least three weeks according to Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com http://m.mlb.com/news/article/138129120/david-freese-hit-by-pitch-on-hand-exits-game. The Angels called up Kyle Kubitza from Triple-A Salt Lake City to fill Freese’s spot on the roster as he was placed on the disabled list Thursday.
The Angels now will wrap up their 10-game home stand with a three-game series with the Texas Rangers. The series will mark the return of former Angel Josh Hamilton who visits the Big “A” for the first time since between traded on April 27. Hamilton fell out of favor with Angels ownership after his admission of a drug relapse in February. For two months the Angels front office and Hamilton exchanged words through the media straining an already touchy relationship due to Hamilton’s lack of production in his first two years of a 5-year 125 million dollar contract. After a mid-April series in Texas where Hamilton sat down with Angels manager Mike Scioscia and the coaching staff, Hamilton was traded 10 days later. The Angels faced Hamilton and the Rangers in Arlington at the beginning of July and the Angels dominated the Rangers sweeping a three-game series by outscoring Texas 33-8. Hamilton went 1 for 3 in game 1 of the series and did not play in the final two games. There are sure to be plenty of boos that will rain down on Hamilton on his return to Anaheim, hopefully just like earlier in the month the Angels will make the “reunion” a moot point by their play on the field. Whatever happens it is sure to be an interesting weekend.