We are not the only team suffering
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| By oakchick on Monday, May 09, 2005 - 07:30 am:|
Although they are now leading our division, the Angels cannot hit either. That's why we are only 4 games back while having the worse offense in the AL.
The big numbers on the upper line of the scoreboard weren't the worst part of the afternoon at Angel Stadium. The small, single-digit numbers on the bottom line were more troubling. They were another indication that the Angel offense is, as the corporate types like to say, "trending downward."
After scoring five runs in each game of a three-game sweep in Seattle, the Angels produced a total of six runs in dropping a weekend series to the Detroit Tigers.
That 10-run, 13-hit pounding Detroit put on the Angels (mostly in Jarrod Washburn's short time on the mound) is easy to view as an aberration.
The Angel starting pitchers had made it to the seventh inning and beyond in nine of the previous 10 games, and the staff earned-run average of 3.40 it carried into the game already factored in John Lackey's seven-run meltdown at Oakland on April 17 and Alex Rodriguez's 10-RBI night at Bartolo Colon's expense at New York on April 26.
The anemic bats, the ones that produced three hits and one run Sunday? That's a pattern, on the way to becoming an identity.
The Angels are batting .243 and rank among the bottom third of the American League's teams in runs, hits and on-base percentage.
"We're certainly not killing the ball or scoring runs in bunches like we can or will with the consistency I think we can," Manager Mike Scioscia said. "We've supported our pitching enough, for the most part, to win some games. It has to pick up, obviously. And it will."
Given the choice, most managers would take a rotation that can keep games close over a team that slugs its way to victories. Just stay within range of a Vladimir Guerrero swing. The formula has worked well enough for the Angels to grab the early lead in the AL West. But with the franchise in a state of increased expectations and diminished competition (no team in the league looks as imposing as the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees were last year), just winning the division isn't good enough. In that case, neither is this team right now.
There are too many holes in the lineup, too many regulars hitting below the Mendoza Line. It adds up to a lot of wasted energy by the Rally Monkey; for all of his jumping, the Angels are 2-10 when they trail or are tied after seven innings.
The Angels trailed after the second pitch Sunday, when Brandon Inge homered against Washburn. Washburn couldn't even get two outs in the third inning before he was done for the day, his efforts yielding eight hits and seven runs.
Then, as Scioscia said, "We just couldn't get it going offensively."
After Juan Rivera flied to the warning track in left field to lead off the second inning, none of the next 11 Angel batters managed to hit a ball beyond the reach of an infielder.
Another problem is that the Angels don't force opposing pitchers to work. They still swing away on the first pitch, don't take their time, don't draw walks. They're in a three-way tie for last in the AL in walks. Only two Angels drew walks against starter Mike Maroth on Sunday, and the left-hander skated through eight innings in 98 pitches.
Although this team is better constructed than the Dodgers, you don't get the sense it has the same ability to overcome any dire situation as that "other L.A." team does.
Ideally, that reference tweaks the overly sensitive Dodgers. They're being extremely petty in their refusal to acknowledge the Angels as "Los Angeles," referring to them as the "Angels of Anaheim" in news releases. They're also wasting the chance to focus on their golden brand name in their ads, instead getting caught up in the city name fight with the campaign "This is L.A. baseball." No, it's Dodger baseball. That's what Vin Scully calls it, and so should the team.
Meanwhile, any elected official who wastes another minute of our state's time on that absurd proposal that Angel tickets contain a disclaimer that the team plays its games in Anaheim needs to be kicked out of office. If they'd devote as much energy to our school system, maybe our citizens would be smart enough to figure it out on their own. While we're doing stupid things with taxpayer money, why don't we make a law attaching asterisks on the first six Los Angeles Laker banners, which were won when the team played in Inglewood?
Yes, I do double takes when I see "Los Angeles" or "LAA" pop up on AL scoring roundups. But I get over it. Everyone else needs to as well. The bottom line is, the experience of watching the product itself hasn't changed. You can go the entire day at Angel Stadium in Anaheim without ever seeing or hearing the words "Los Angeles."
But will "Los Angeles" be seen on World Series broadcasts from Anaheim? Not without more hitting.
"It seems like last year we'd go through the same thing, where we'd be on fire for a week and then go a couple of games where we don't get hits," Quinlan said. "I like our chances with this team we've got here in the long run."
Last year the offensive inconsistency resulted in large part from injuries to Troy Glaus and Garret Anderson.
Now Anderson is back to his old ways, but Glaus is in Arizona and Jose Guillen — such a productive hitter in the first half before his attitude got him booted in the stretch drive — is in Washington.
Now they might need to make a trade, perhaps sending Washburn — who will be a free agent after the season — to another contender in exchange for a bat. The Angels could use a designated hitter; it's the one position even the versatile Chone Figgins hasn't been able to fill adequately.
It would hurt to lose Washburn, who typically produced double-digit wins and nearly 200 innings a year in his first four full seasons with the Angels.
It also would cost the Angels another link to the 2002 World Series-champion team. But a lack of hitting could cost them a shot at the 2005 World Series.
| By pachyderm on Monday, May 09, 2005 - 10:14 am:|
The Rangers have a chance to take over first by the end of the week but they are also playing the Tigers this week. The A's have "No excuses" for the lack of timing hitting according to Macha, now the Angels have the same problem.