Monday, April 9, 2012

C.J. Wilson Pitcher C.J. Wilson #33 of the Los Angeles Angels poses during spring training photo day on February 29, 2012 at Tempe Diablo Stadium in Tempe, Arizona.

By Brian Waller, Columnist

Angels' Starting Line-up:
Aybar, SS
Kendrick, 2B
Pujols, 1B
Morales, DH
Hunter, RF
Abreu, LF
Callaspo, 3B
Iannetta, C
Bourjos, CF

Game Notes:

The Angels bounced back nicely after losing two consecutive games this past weekend as they beat the Minnesota Twins 5-1 in front of 39,414 at Target Field on Monday. C.J. Wilson took the mound for the Halos opposite Nick Blackburn in weather conditions described as frigid. Although there was sunshine, temperatures dipped into the 40’s which had to be a bit of a shock for Angels’ players as I am sure they became accustomed to temperatures in the 70's and 80’s after playing a month in Tempe, AZ and opening the weekend in Anaheim, CA.

The offense got it going early in the 1st. Albert Pujols hit into what appeared to be an inning ending double play however Erick Aybar’s slide into second base took out Twins' second baseman Alexi Casilla which broke the play up. Its small plays like this that do not show up in the box score but extend innings, great job by Aybar on the base paths.

Another key play in the 1st inning that won’t show up in the box score is Albert Pujols going first-to-third on a single by Kendrys Morales. The aggressive base running set up Pujols to score on Torii Hunter’s clutch 2-out single to left field. Plays like this and the Aybar slide mentioned above helped put the team in position to get out to an early 2 run lead.

Maybe Bobby Abreu can be an asset to the team this season after all. Despite a horrendous spring training Abreu has played pretty well to start off 2012, although it’s still very early. Today he went 1-for-2 with 1 run, 1 RBI and 1 walk. I am still not a fan of Abreu playing defense, it seems like you never know what you are going to get out of him out in the field. Hopefully Abreu makes good use of the time Scioscia gives him in the line-up and he remains satisfied with his role on the team.

Chris Iannetta contributed with 2 run double in the 7th, a shot that put the Halos up 4-1. Iannetta would later score on a suicide squeeze play which was executed by.....Erick Aybar! Yeah, the same Aybar that botched the play a few years back in the playoffs.

C.J. Wilson looked fantastic today. His stuff looked nasty early on as he froze Joe Mauer with a filthy breaking pitch in the first inning. Wilson would go on to pitch 7 solid innings giving up only 1 run and scattering 3 hits while striking out 1 and walking 4. The lone Twins' run came off of a Josh Willingham home run in the 4th inning. Other then the mistake pitch to Willingham Wilson looked very good in his Angels' debut. Although Wilson did give up 4 walks, they did not come back to haunt him. I think today was an aberration for Wilson and walks shouldn’t be a problem moving forward; he did only give up 3 this preseason in 24 1/3 innings pitched. It was refreshing to see a strong outing from the rotation after two consecutive poor outings by Dan Haren and Ervin Santana.

The bullpen had another strong outing today as Scott Downs and Kevin Jepsen combined for 2 innings of shutout baseball allowing only 2 hits and walking none. After a rocky spring training the Halos' pen seems to be shaping up nicely.

Player of the Game:

C.J. Wilson (W, 1-0)

IP     H     R     ER     BB     SO     HR     ERA
7.0    3      1      1      4       5       1      1.29
Up Next:
The Angels are off tomorrow and will resume their 3-game series with the Twins on Wednesday with Jered Weaver taking the mound opposite Carl Pavano.

Misc. Notes:
Torii Hunter and LaTroy Hawkins threw out ceremonial first pitches for today’s game. They joined several of their former teammates from the 2002 Twins to mark the 10-year anniversary of the team's division title after the franchise was nearly eliminated that off-season.

According to Mike Scioscia, Kendrys Morales will get one game off in the Minnesota. Scioscia hope a game off in the Minnesota series, combined with a day off Tuesday will help keep Morales fresh to start the 2012 seasons.

Pitcher Michael Kohn will be seeking a second option on his forearm strain which landed him on the DL to start the season.
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