|Angels first baseman Albert Pujols slides into home in an attempt to score on Saturday|
The Angels momentum from opening day didn't quite carry over to Saturday as the Halo bats were kept fairly quite by Kansas City Royals pitcher Luke Hochevar. Hochevar was very efficient and effective over 6.1 innings as he allowed only 2 earned runs off of 5 hits while walking 2 and striking out 4. Hochevar had a very strong spring training in which he sported a 3-1 record with a 2.84 ERA and after today's outing he looks poised to finally live up to some of the hype that surrounded him when he was first drafted by the Royals (cough cough...I think I predicted a win by Hochevar in the series preview).
Despite his sparkling 2.05 spring ERA and his perfect 3-0 record, Angels pitcher Dan Haren seemed to not be himself today as he gave up 5 earned runs and 11 hits in only 5.1 innings pitched. It was the long ball that got to Haren today as he gave up 2 long balls. A silver lining in an otherwise dreary day for the Halos is that their bullpen pitched 3.2 scoreless innings. Hisanori Takahashi, Jason Isringhausen, LaTroy Hawkins and Rich Thompson combined for only 1 walk, 1 unearned run and 4 strikeouts in those 3.2 innings. I personally think that at this point the bullpen is the weakest link on the team, the fact that they collectively pitched so well is very encouraging and shouldn't be overlooked by Angel fans.
Albert Pujols got the monkey off his back today by getting his first official hit an Angels' uniform...haha...see what I did there?..Monkey? Ok, sorry, back on topic. Pujols went 1-for-4 today with a solid double, his early season average stands at .143, an average I'm sure will skyrocket soon enough.
Believe it or not, Bobby Abreu had 2 RBI's. You read that sentence correctly people...read it again and let it soak in. Abreu continues to be shaky on defense however, it becomes more apparent with every outing that he is hardly the best option the team has on defense.I am not an Abreu supporter but I can acknowledge that the past 2 weeks, after working with a certain batting coach, he has improved his walk to strikeout ratio and he has been hitting better. I'm not convinced though and I still don't think he has a place on this team. Anyone else crossing their fingers that Angels General Manager Jerry Dipoto makes a move soon?
Is Kendrys healthy? Is he able to play everyday? Is the breaking ball giving him trouble? After today it looks like the answer to those questions is no!...Kendrys Morales went 4-for-4 today. I asked the question in the series preview if Morales could and would begin the season as hot he did this spring training, the answer to that apparently is yes!
Tomorrow is the rubber game of the series and Angels right-handed pitcher Ervin Santana will take the mound for the Halos opposite Jonathan Sanchez. As I stated in the preview piece, I think the Angels have a real chance to get at Sanchez early. Sanchez had an 0-2 record this spring with and 8.74 ERA. He walked 6 batters in 11.1 innings which tends to be on par with how he pitches during the season, lots of walks! The Angels newly found patience this spring will be a big asset for them if they can lay off of Sanchez's breaking stuff. Again, I'm predicting he is out of the game due to a high pitch count by the 4th inning as the Halos cruise to victory a 2-to-1 series win.
Player of the Game:
AB R H RBIs BB SO LOB AVG.
4 2 4 0 0 0 0 .714