Monday, June 30, 2008

By Victor Varadi - Columnist

Overall Record: 49-33
Games Ahead: 4.5
Week Record: 3-3

Week in Review:

If John Lackey (2-0 this week) continues to pitch like he has so far this year, it will be an absolute travesty for him to not be taken to the All Star Game. In fact, he has been so consistently magnificent that it’s getting hard to come up with new superlatives to describe his performances. In 2 games this week, Lackey threw 16 and 2/3 innings while striking out 15 and giving up just one earned run. Lackey has yet to throw less than 7 innings in any one start.

Meanwhile, Jered Weaver was the story of the week and not just because he threw so well. Weaver combined with Jose Arredondo to throw 8 innings of no-hit ball against the Dodgers, only to see an unearned run drop an “L” on his record. Little Weaver has been up and down all year but even when he is dominant he can’t catch a break. Jon Garland pitched well in a win against the D.C. Nationals, the first time the Angels had been to the nation’s capital for a game since 1971. The Angels’ dynamic duo, Saunders and Santana, had rough outings against the Dodgers and Nationals, respectively.

Honorable Mention: The entire pitching staff…again. I may have to just start cutting and pasting from the week prior into this section. The Angels offense continues to sleep-walk, forcing the pitching staff to be near perfect; and even when they are, as they were against the Dodgers, they lose because of an anemic offense that couldn’t even score a single run. I am never one for calling out management, but this can’t continue much longer. The Angels are a lock for the post-season, but they won’t get far if the pitcher’s have to carry the team like this.

The Angels offense averaged 2.6 runs per game this week. And they scored 8 of their 16 total runs in one game! Take away that one game against the lowly Nats and the offensive output per game is down to a run and a half. And the team still went .500! Figgins was in and out of the lineup again and interleague play only seemed to highlight the ineffectiveness of the offense.

The Bottom Line: The Angels offense stinks! There is little consistency from night to night and the lineup has got to look weak to opposing pitchers. Mike Napoli and Jeff Mathis are terrible at the plate and it is starting to affect their defensive abilities (Mathis’ throwing error to 2nd base/center field led to the unearned run in the 1-0 loss to the Dodgers despite the Angels throwing a no-hitter through 8 innings). The Angels will keep winning, but something will have to give soon.

The Week Ahead:

The Angels leave behind interleague play and come home to face division rivals, the Oakland A’s. While the Athletics have stuck around in the AL West race so far, they will need to start doing more than winning series’ against the Angels to make up ground. Tuesday’s match-up is the one to watch as Ervin Santana and Rich Harden square off. The Angels celebrate America’s birthday by welcoming Canada’s team, the Toronto Blue Jays, to the Big A for a 3 game set. If this offense continues to struggle, all predictions for win-loss records are out the window.
Love to hear what you think!

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