Monday, June 16, 2008

By Victor Varadi - Columnist

Overall Record: 42-28 Games Ahead: 3.5 Week Record: 3-3

Week in Review:

Joe Saunders (1-1) had his worst outing of the season, getting tagged by the Tampa Bay Rays. Saunders gave up 8 runs and didn’t make it out of the 5th inning in a game where the Rays hit a franchise record 3 home runs in 3 consecutive at-bats. The lefty from Virginia rebounded at the end of the week by shutting out the Atlanta Braves through 7 1/3 and helping the Angels avoid a sweep.

Jered Weaver continued his topsy-turvy season in spectacular fashion: 8 innings, 4 hits, 1 run, 5 K’s. The only question is which Weaver will show up for his next start, the opener of a 3 game home series against the Mets. John Lackey mowed through a tough Rays lineup, limiting them to 2 runs through 7 1/3. Big John’s late season start may have cost him a spot on the All Star team, but it won’t keep from earning Cy Young votes. Jon Garland started a less than stellar weekend for the Angels by giving up 5 runs on 12 hits and took his first loss in 8 games. Ervin Santana, seemingly feeding off of Garland’s start the previous night, was equally as bad as the Braves denied him what could have been his 9th win of the season.

Honorable Mention: The entire pitching staff. They had an off week but still carried the team. The Angels offense has been asleep for 3 weeks and the pitching staff has been ridiculously stingy on the mound. Times were tough this week, but they still stepped up and got the Angels in the win column 3 out of 6.

Last week the Angels won 5 out of 6 while averaging a paltry 4 runs per game; things couldn’t get any worse. This week, the Angels offense averaged 2 and a half runs per game and in an attempt to get the bats rolling, Mike Scioscia posted a different lineup card almost every single night. The only ray of hope might be that Vlad Guerrero is finally heating up. In the 6 games played this week Vlad posted an even .500 batting average (11-22), 2 doubles, 2 homers and 7 runs scored.

The Bottom Line: While Vlad’s numbers were…well…Vlad-like, he only had 3 RBI to show for all his work. In an attempt to add depth to an otherwise shallow offensive lineup, Sosh dropped Vlad to the 4-hole. Needless to say, this is an experiment that should be short-lived. The lineup would benefit from opposing pitcher’s knowing they had to face a suddenly hot Guerrero in the first inning. With Figgins back at the top of the order, the offense should start scoring runs at a higher clip in no time.

The Week Ahead:

The Angels welcome the New York Mets to Anaheim for a 3 game set. The Angels have been National League killers in recent interleague play and that trend should continue against the struggling Mets. The big draw is Tuesday night with John Lackey squaring off against Johan Santana. Then the Angels take their act on the road to Philadelphia where they will face Ryan Howard and the Phillies. Howard was NL Rookie of the Year in 2005 and league MVP in 2006, but is struggling to find his form this season. The Angels hope things stay that way and should take both series’ handily.

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