Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Angels v. Mariners

Escobar v. Hernandez

I was driving home from Angels stadium a week or so ago and I was complaining to my pal about Scioscia batting Vlad in the 4 hole and having Cabrera in front of him. My rationale was that OC does better in that 2 hole because the pitcher may slightly panic when having to face Vlad in the first inning of a game when Vlad is in the 3 spot. With Vlad hitting 4th, there’s a sense of relief on the part of the pitcher that he may not need to face Vlad in the 1st inning and may even get to face him as a leadoff hitter in the 2nd inning where he can pitch around him and essentially shut the entire Angels offense down for the first 3-4 innings. It was as if mike heard my cries and came to his sense, keeping Willits and OC in the top 2 spots and instead batting Gary Matthews behind Vlad as protection. Now I don’t think that Matthews is a “big bat” but he can do a lot in the 4 spot in that he works counts and gets on base. This can create havoc for the pitcher without scoring runs via the long ball. So far, it’s paying dividends as the Angels offense has been electric.

Tonight’s game should be a good test as to how fluky this offense may or may not be. Felix Hernandez returns from the DL to take on Kelvim Escobar, one of a couple of Angels with early Cy Young potential. If Hernandez is completely free of the elbow discomfort that kept him out of action for a month then the Angels offense will need to be patient and do whatever it can to get Felix out of the game and get into that shady Mariners bullpen. The Angels will need Reggie Willits to set the tone and take pitches and work counts in the hope that it continues to trickle down the lineup. If the Angels can get Felix out of the game early enough, Escobar should be able to keep the team in it long enough for the offense to get to work. But, if the halos go out there swinging early and often, this game could be over before 9 PT.

Something worth noting is Vladimir’s numbers in Seattle and against tonight’s pitcher. Vlad is a .367 (36-for-98) lifetime hitter at Safeco Field with six homers and 22 RBIs, and is 4-for-14 (.286) lifetime against Hernandez.

If the Angels can win tonight, a sweep is not out of the question.
Love to hear what you think!


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