LA Angels drop a pair of split-squad games, but still some positives.

CINCINNATI, OH - SEPTEMBER 24: Wilfredo Tovar #70 of the New York Mets hits a single in the second inning against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park on September 24, 2013 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH - SEPTEMBER 24: Wilfredo Tovar #70 of the New York Mets hits a single in the second inning against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park on September 24, 2013 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /

The LA Angels played a pair of split-squad games on Thursday and looked like they were going to earn a split as they went into their game against Kansas City up 7-3 in the 9th, but a 5-run outburst cost them the game as the Royals rallied to win 8-7.

The LA Angels also had their second matchu of the Spring against the LA Dodgers and despite a good start the Angels dropped a 6-2 decision.  It has been said that “In every dark cloud has a silver lining”. Calling losing two games in Spring Training is overly dramatic, but the point I’m making is that there were a lot positives in both games despite the losses.

LA Dodgers 6,  LA Angels 2

The Angels got down early as the Dodgers scored two runs in the second inning off of starter Felix Pena.  The Angels answered quickly as Peter Bourjos continued his hot Spring with an RBI double to plate Kevan Smith. Bourjos would then score on a Kaleb Cowart single to tie the game at two.  Bourjos is hitting .524 with two homers and nine runs batted in. It’s still too early to say, but Bourjos is the leading candidate for the fourth outfield spot.

Cowart also is an interesting story.  He had been with the Angels since 2010 when they drafted him in the first round of the amateur draft.  Cowart has only three at-bats this Spring, but he has made the most of it hitting a grand slam and yesterday he got an RBI single.  He also is trying out pitching and pitched one scoreless inning in relief earlier in the week.

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Pitching wise Felix Pena had another strong outing despite giving up two runs.  Pena pitched three innings and struck out four Dodgers.  Pena is 2-0 and has a 2.08 ERA in 8.2 innings of work with 11 strikeouts and a 1.15 WHIP.  Pena is competing for the fifth starter spot with Jaime Barria and Dillon Peters and has been the most impressive thus far.  Even if he does get named the 5th starter he still could earn a roster spot out of the bullpen as a long man.

Cody Allen pitched his fourth inning of scoreless relief following Pena not giving up any runs and striking out one batter.  Allen has yet to give up a run and he also has a sparkling 0.75 WHIP.  Ty Buttrey and Greg Mahle also pitched well in relief. Buttrey pitching one inning not allowing a hit and striking out one one.  Mahle pitched 0.2 scoreless innings without allowing any hits or walks.

Luis Garcia had another sub-par outing walking four batters and giving up three runs in 0.1 innings of work.  Garcia now has a10.80 and has yet to have a clean inning this Spring. Mike Trout also collected another hit moving his average to .353 this Spring.

Kansas City Royals 8, LA Angels 7. 

The Angels took an early 4-1 lead after four innings with Jose Rojas driving in two with a double and then Wilfredo Tovar driving Rojas in with another double.  An inning later Tovar hit his second home run of the Spring to make it 4-1. Rojas is hitting .400 this Spring with two homers and six RBIs. It is still unlikely he will make the Angels opening day roster, but he is definitely having a good showing.

Tovar is another hot hitter this Spring hitting .389 with two homers and five RBIs, but since he is middle infielder the competition is pretty stiff for a spot there with four Angels already under contract at the two positions.

In the 9th inning with the Angels clinging to a 4-3 lead, Luis Rivas added some insurance with a two-run homer.  The Angels stretched the lead to 7-3 going into the bottom of the 9th, but thats when the wheels came off as Jesus Castillo and and Ryan Clark gave up five runs to blow the lead and give the Royals an 8-7 victory.

The pitching up until that point was very good.  Jaime Barria had another good start pitching three innings and only allowing one run with two strikeouts.  The only bad part of Barria’s outing was three walks.  Williams Jerez and Jared Walsh pitched a scoreless inning of relief apiece as they are two candidates for the lefty-specialist role.  Walsh has not given up a run in four outings and Jerez has a 4.15 ERA.

Luis Madero also had a good outing pitching two innings of scoreless relief with one strikeout.  Madero has pitched six innings this Spring striking out three and not giving up a run.

Matt Harvey looks good in Spring Debut. Next

What’s up next. 

Andrew Heaney will make his second start of the Spring vs. the Chicago White Sox after sitting out 10 days due to elbow inflamation.  The Angels hope for Heaney to throw between 30 and 40 pitches with no setbacks. The Angels are also hopeful that Justin Upton will get his Cactus League action over the weekend. Upton has been sidelined with tendinitis in his left knee.