Monday, April 9, 2007

After a very successful 5-2 season opening homestand, the Angels head out on the road for their first and one of their more difficult road trips of the season. In all, the Halos will play nine games versus the Indians, Red Sox and Athletics.

First stop: Milwaukee. No, the Indians have not moved to Milwaukee. Due to horrid winter conditions in Cleveland, which forced the Indians to reschedule all games against the Seattle Mariners this past weekend, Major League Baseball has shifted the series to Milwaukee’s Miller Park.

The Angels will send Ervin Santana, Joe Saunders and Dustin Moseley to the mound against a powerful Indians’ line-up led by lead-off man, Grady Sizemore and the power hitting, Travis Hafner. I would expect the Indians to shuffle their rotation due to their unexpected lay-off. The Angels can expect to see CC Sabathia, Jake Westbrook and Jeremy Sowers. One name missing from the list is Cliff Lee, who is still on the Disabled list.

The Indians are the trendy pick this year to surprise baseball and make noise in October. Many publications have them ousting the Detroit Tigers. With good, but not great starting pitching and a very good offense, the Indians’ weakness lay in the bullpen. If the Angels can disallow Indian starters to go late into games, they’ll have a chance to put up a lot of runs and take the series.

Prediction – Angels take series 2 games to 1

The Angels will play four in Boston this weekend, concluding the series with a 7am (PST) start, Monday. The pitching match-ups are potentially outstanding, with the Angels sending John Lackey, Kelvim Escobar, Ervin Santana and Jered Weaver to the mound vs. Tim Wakefield, Curt Schilling, Josh Beckett and Dice-K.

The Red Sox are favored by many to finally dethrone the Yankees, who have won the last nine AL East titles. They are relying heavily on a starting staff with a lot of question marks. Schilling is old. Beckett is oft-injured, and Dice-K, no matter the hype, is still a rookie in the Major Leagues. Their bullpen is aging, other than young closer Jonathon Popplebon. Their line-up is one of the very best in all of baseball. Added to compliments the dynamic duo of Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz, were Julio Lugo, and J.D. Drew, who if healthy and motivated is capable of putting up big numbers.

The Angels have had trouble with Boston over the past few years, especially at Fenway. A split would be a huge step to a successful road trip, but might be too tough to come by.

Prediction – Red Sox take series 3 games to 1

As witnessed this past weekend, the Angels and A’s always seem to play hard fought, down to the wire games. The teams split a four game series in Anaheim, playing 3 one-run games. The Angels will conclude their first road trip with a pair of games in Oakland. Fans can expect more of the same between these clubs. It’s hard to imagine either team sweeping the abbreviated series.

Prediction – Split, 1-1

So when it’s all said and done, I’ve got the Angels going 4-5 on their first road trip of the season. A bit pessimistic? Perhaps. But the Angels are facing three quality opponents, who will present good starting pitching. If the Halos can manage a winning record on the trip, say 5-4 or even, 6-3, it will go a long way with confidence of the young players.

Players to Watch

Howie Kendrick – It’s not uncommon for young players to press early in the season, especially when so much is expected of them. It’s even more likely to occur in front of the home fans. I expect Kendrick to have a big road-trip, away from the hoopla surrounding Angel Stadium, on the road, where he can just play baseball.

Jered Weaver
– Expected to make his first start of the season on Monday, April
16th in Boston, Weaver will look to continue the dominance he showed as a rookie
last season, and turn Boston partiers sour on Patriot’s Day.
Love to hear what you think!


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