Ervin Santana starts the season off 5-0
By Chuck Richter - Angelswin.com Executive Editor
Heading into the season most fans hoped that the Angels would stay afloat and play close to or around .500 ball with the prospects of not having our #1 and #2 starters (John Lackey and Kelvim Escobar) for the entire month of April. Meanwhile the so called experts quickly jumped on the Mariners bandwagon as they traded for Eric Bedard and signed the innings eating, sinker ball pitchin' Carlos Silva to bolster their rotation.
One month later, on the eve of May 1st, the Angels have boasted an 18-11 record, best in the AL West by 1 game over the Oakland A's and the second to the Arizona Diamondbacks for most wins in all of baseball.
The kicker is this. We've done this without much help from our superstar on offense in Vladimir Guerrero who's batting a cool .270 with a sub .800 OPS.
Our cleanup hitter for much of the month-Garret Anderson, who was our most productive hitter in the 2nd half of '07 has looked awful at the plate, hitting a weak .222
Howie Kendrick when playing was a rock star, but he's only seen action in about a half of the month of April games.
Obviously no John Lackey or Kelvim Escobar.
Gary Matthews Jr., despite his 19 RBI's, is hitting .226 and has squandered as many opportunities as he's delivered.
Jon has pitched more like Judy Garland without the help of the Oz, posting a 5.94 ERA through 6 starts. His 12 to 9 walks to strikeouts rate has been downright awful.
Jered Weaver has been anything but a #1, posting a less than spectacular WHIP and ERA, going 2-3 in the month of April.
K-Rod missed time with an ankle injury that saw a drop in velocity and thus effectiveness, which forced Scioscia to give the ball to Justin Speier in a closing role, that didn't work out too well.
In the meantime, the Oakland A's who were supposed to be rebuilding and predicted cellar dwellers have played well, going 17-12 by getting solid contributions from their young starting rotation, along with enough offense to boast a solid month in their own right.
What has gone right for the Halos in the month of April?
The 5-0 studs in Ervin Santana and Joe Saunders, the two heading into March who were supposed to be battling it out for the 5th spot, both have been the ACES of the staff by far. Santana (pictured above) who won his 5th against the Oakland A's on the eve of May 1st, has given up just 1 run in his last 30 innings of work against the Athletics and is currently boasting a 2.48 ERA and a solid strikeout to walk ratio.
Joe Saunders, the former #1 pick of the Angels out of Virginia Tech, won his 5th game the previous night, throwing 8 scoreless innings against the division rival A's, lowered his ERA to 2.08, while also lowering his WHIP to a minuscule 0.95.
Catchers' Jeff Mathis & Michael Napoli have combined to hit 9 HR's, proving that they can be a force offensively behind the dish going forward.
Our new cleanup hitter Casey Kotchman, has added some loft to his swing and has shown that he can be our BIG BAT - ala Miguel Cabrera, but with the better glove at 1B .
While it's only two games, Torii Hunter has provided some clubhouse Mojo by contributing with a walk off grand slam and an over the fence robbery of Richie Sexson's blast in the 9th inning, what could of been the game tying HR and possible L in the standings.
Lastly, the man in the middle Erick Aybar has been the talk of the town. Erick is getting local and national attention for the defense he displays, laser beams to Kotchman, all while hitting well enough that Mike has used him in the 5th and 6th spots in the lineup after sporting a superb batting average and contact rate, in the first month of the season. Aybar, a career .311 hitter in the minors, is the kind of player Manager Mike Scioscia loves to work with, and one that should anchor the SS position for quite sometime if he continues to develop.
The Halo is lit brightly as the Angels are atop the AL West, and with April behind us and the month of May upon us, the Angels are poised for a strong push, one game at a time.
The .500 hitting Howie Kendrick is due back on Friday, our #1 prospect Nick Adenhart takes the place of Dustin Moseley and toes the rubbber today against the Oakland A's in the series finale after sporting a 0.87 ERA in Triple-A for the 22-2 Salt Lake Bees and our other ACE John Lackey is due back in a couple weeks. The prospects of continued success is on the horizon.
So no pranks here, the 18-11 Halos are getting the last laugh at the pundits who are the butt of all jokes.