For One Night The LA Angels Look Like The Team They Should Be.
By David Rice
On Wednesday night the LA Angels were reeling going into their game against the Chicago White Sox. The Angels having only won one of five games since the All-Star Break were looking for a spark…
With the LA Angels line-up consisting of three Gold Glove winners, two MVP’s, and a budding star on the mound you would think it would be a cinch for them to win this game. However, in 2018 nothing seems to come easy to the Halos. In their four losses since the break the Angels scored six runs. They did have a nice 14 run outburst against Houston on Sunday which gave some fans some false hope, but the team dropped the first two games of a four game series against the Sox who were 30 games under .500 coming into the series.
When Mike Trout stepped up to the plate in first inning the Angels were hoping for anything positive and Trout delivered with a solo homer to put the Angels up 1-0. In the bottom of the second inning Albert Pujols gave the fans something special to remember, hitting his 17th homer of the season. More importantly it was Pujols’ 631st career homer to move him past Ken Griffey Jr. into sixth place on the all-time list. In the fourth inning a rarity happened as Pujols stole third base with Luis Valbuena followed up by stealing second base. This had to be one of the least likely double-steal combinations the Angels could think of. It was an omen of things to come.
But as I said before things have not come easy for the Angels this season. The White Sox tied the score with a pair of runs in the top of the fourth. Enter the Japanese phenom Shohei Ohtani. In the 5th inning with the Angels already having scored a run on a Kole Calhoun RBI double, Ohtani stepped to the plate and tattooed a ball to right-center field for his 9th homer of the season to extend the Halos lead to 5-2. Things were starting to look better for the Angels.
Menawhile on the mound, Tyler Skaggs was mowing the White Sox down striking out six of the first nine batters he faced. He end his night after six strong innings which saw Skaggs give up only one earned run on four hits while striking out nine batters. Skaggs lowered his team best ERA to 2.62 and improved to 8-6 on the season.
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In the bottom of the sixth Trout helped put the game away for the Angels with his second home run of the game, this time a 3-run blast that put the game on ice with the Angels leading 9-2. It was Trout’s 28th home run of the season as he is on pace to hit a career-high 42 this season.
Luis Valbuena added a two-run double in the 7th inning to put the exclamation point on the evening and the Angels had an 11-3 victory. This inconsistency the Angels have shown the last three months after a hot start has driven many fans crazy this season. How can a team with all the offensive weapons this team has struggle to score runs?
The issue has been inconsistency from almost every Angel starter not named Trout or Simmons. They have both put together All-Star caliber seasons both offensively and defensively. Trout was rewarded with his 7th consecutive all-star game selection, but Simmons was snubbed.
Other than those two players inconsistency has been the norm. Kole Calhoun couldn’t hit the broadside of a barn the first two months of the season wallowing around .150 with only an opening day home run. Since then the Red Baron has been on fire hitting close to .300 in the last month smashing 10 homers and driving in 23 runs during that span.
Justin Upton has been the same way although not quite as extreme. Upton has hit 20 homers and driven in 56 runs this season thanks in large part to two hot stretches in May and June that saw him hit seven homers in a two week stretch and six homers in 12 games driving in 34 runs. The other 70 plus games Upton hit a combined seven homers and drove in 23 runs.
Albert Pujols has had the same inconsistency just not as pronounced as Upton. Pujols has hit 11 of his 17 homers in his last 33 games after only hitting six in his first 70. He has driven in 53 runs this season and has gotten his 3,000th career hit. He also has passed Ken Griffey Jr. for 6th place on the all-time HR list. Shohei Ohtani has helped when he has been in the line-up on a part-time basis smacking nine homers and driving in 25 runs in 50 games as a DH.
Ian Kinsler and Zack Cozart never have seemed to get on track this season and Martin Maldonado is not known for his offense. So with all this said you can see why the Angels have had trouble scoring runs at times. Couple this with an inconsistent bullpen and a starting rotation that has taken several big hits due to injury and you can see even more why the Angels are struggling to stay above .500 (51-52).
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Hopefully now that they are starting to get healthy they might be able to play some good ball. Unfortunately it will probably be too little too late, and it may never happen this season. What can the Angels general manager Billy Eppler do fix this situation in the off-season is anyone’s guess. Will Mike Scioscia even be around next season?
These questions will be answered in the next three to four months. Whatever happens, the bottom line is Angel fans want a team that can not only make the playoffs, but make a run for the World Series as well. To be continued …