Monday, May 28, 2012

By Brian Waller, Columnist

Angels/Mariners Recap:
The Angels went into the series with the Mariners on a 2-game winning streak. They knew the Mariners had just recently beat the division leading Texas Rangers 2 out of 3 games and they knew they were scheduled to face "King" Felix during their upcoming 4-game series, this Mariners squad was not a team to overlook. The Halos played sound fundamental baseball; great pitching from the rotation, timely hitting from the offense, and effective pitching from the relief corp. For the first time in 2012 the Halos seemed to be firing on all cylinders and that resulted in a sweep of the M's and a season high 6-game winning streak.

The Halos had terrific pitching performances from C.J. Wilson, Jerome Williams and Dan Haren; all picking up wins. The rotation continues to be consistent and really gives the club a chance to win every single game. Although all starters pitched well, the more we see out of Jerome Williams the more I really like him. Even when he doesn't necessarily have his best "stuff" he continues to keep the Angels in games. In my opinion the Angels have the best #5 in baseball.

Albert Pujols is finally looking like the slugger Angels fans thought they were getting when he signed his mega deal this past off-season. He was 6-for-16 against Seattle with 3 home runs and 6 RBI's. It was a breakout series for Pujols and it could not have come at a better time for the Halos who now return to Anaheim and welcome the Bronx Bombers to town for a 3-game series beginning tonight at the "Big A".

Angels/Yankees Preview:
The Yankees are coming to Anaheim hot! They too are riding a season high winning streak, although theirs stands at 5, not 6. Fortunately for the Angels they will not have to face staff ace C.C. Sabathia but they will have to contend with a rejuvenated Philip Hughes and Andy Pettitte.

Hughes, after stumbling out of the starting gate this season has pitched pretty well as of late, he has won 2 out of his last 3 starts and has not allowed more than 2 runs in an outing since early May. Hughes tends to throw a lot of pitches and that may be the key to beating him, patience at the plate. Hughes has only pitched past the 6th inning once this season, it will be important in the series opener to "jack up" the pitch count and get to the Yankees bullpen early in the series.

I think the pitcher the Halos will have the most difficulty with this series is the returning Andy Pettitte. Pettitte got roughed up in his 2012 debut but he has been very good his last 2 outings going 2-0 and only allowing 2 earned runs over 15 innings. The Angels have always played well against Pettitte, he owns a career 14-10 record against the Halos with a 4.42 ERA. If you are wondering how he has fared at the "Big A", he is 7-7 with a 3.97 ERA.

The Yankees are 2nd in the AL in home runs so it will be important for the Halos' rotation to keep the ball down and out of the wheel house of the Yankees sluggers. All 3 games will be in the evening so hopefully that  wonderful Southern California marine layer works in the Angels' favor.

This is a big series for the Angels with the Texas Rangers next in line to come to Anaheim at the conclusion of the Yankees' series. The Angels have been playing very consistent baseball as of late, hopefully that trend continues. No disrespect to the Athletics or the Mariners but the Yankees are definitely on a different level then those two clubs, it will be a great test for the the streaking Halos.

Pitching Match-ups:
5/28 – Jered Weaver (6-1, 2.61 ERA) vs. Phil Hughes (4-5, 4.94 ERA)
5/29 – Dan Haren (2-5, 3.76 ERA) vs. Andy Pettitte (2-1, 2.53 ERA)
5/30 - Ervin Santana (2-6, 4.45 ERA) vs. Ivan Nova (5-2, 5.46 ERA)

5/28 – Sunny with a high of 77 degrees
5/29 – Partly cloudy with a high of 75 degrees
5/30 - Partly cloudy with a high of 75 degrees

Game Times/Channels/Promotions:
5/28 – 6:05 p.m. / FSW & MLBN / Angels Car Air Freshener
5/29 – 7:05 p.m. / FSW / MLB Network Drawstring Bag
5/30 - 7:05 p.m. /FSW & ESPN2

Player(s) to Watch:
The last time Jered Weaver faced a powerful offense, well we all know what happened...he walked off the field in Arlington, Texas singing along to "Hit the Road Jack". This will be a big test for Weaver who has looked very sharp since getting knocked around by Texas.

Albert Pujols had a monster series in Seattle, Angel fans everywhere are crossing their fingers hoping that it carries over for this big home-stand. Pujols looks more confident at the plate and has shown a heck of a lot more patience. Hughes and Ivan Nova can be very erratic at times and tend to make mistakes in the zone. I would not be surprised at all to see "King" Albert go deep yet again along with getting his fare share of walks in the series.

*The team stats and the Angels' ranking change very little from one series to the next so I will now just be posting them every other series.

Love to hear what you think!

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