In a weekend where Vernon Wells started his first two games since May, the Angels were promptly shut out twice in a row for the first time since early May – back when Wells played. It’s a complete coincidence, but let’s just say it’s his fault because it’s easier that way.
On Friday, Dan Haren made his second consecutive quality start since coming off the DL to pace the Angels to a 3-1 win. Haren held the Rays to 1 run in 6 innings and struck out 6 batters while only walking 1. Albert Pujols provided the big hit in the game, a 2-out double jussssst out of a diving Super Sam Fuld’s grasp in left field, scoring Mike Trout and Torii Hunter and giving the Angels a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
The win came just hours after news broke the Angels had acquired Zack Greinke. If Haren can resemble his 2011 season, as he has he last two starts, the Angels may legitimately have four aces* at their disposal for the stretch run.
*Those being Haren, Greinke, CJ Wilson and Ervi — Jered Weaver.
The Angels dropped Saturday’s game 3-0, thanks to poor defense and Matt Moore’s dominating performance. Moore, along with Mike Trout and Bryce Harper, was a consensus top 3 prospect prior to the season but has struggled at some points this season. But on Saturday he flashed the stuff that showed why he was an elite prospect. Mixing a mid-90s fastball with a huge curveball and a devastating change up, Moore shut out the Angels through 6 1/3, striking out 6 along the way.
With Moore cruising, the Rays didn’t need any help scoring runs but the Angels defense gave them an assist anyway. On CJ Wilson’s first pitch of the night, Desmond Jennings laced a single to left field that Vernon Wells,** making his triumphant return from injury, allowed to roll to the wall by taking a poor angle, because he’s Vernon Wells and he’s not very good. In the 2nd inning, with Sean Rodriguez on third base and nobody out, shortstop Maicer Izturis dropped a routine pop up that every little leaguer would catch, scoring Rodriguez and giving the Rays a 2-0 lead. That was more than plenty for Moore.
** It’s poetic, really, that Wells screwed up on his first play back. It’s like he wanted to remind everyone right away just how bad he is.
In the Sunday rubber match the Angels dropped Greinke’s debut 2-0. Greinke pitched well and didn’t deserve the loss, going 7 innings, striking out 8, walking 1, and more or less scattering 7 hits. The Rays scored their first run due to more terrible defense: in the 6th inning, lead off man Elliot Johnson “doubled” in right center when a routine fly ball fell between Peter Bourjos and Mark Trumbo. Though Johnson was eventually thrown out on the basepaths, the extra out came back to haunt the Angels as Fuld scored on a Matt Joyce base hit to right field.
That would be enough for a Rays victory. Mike Trout was scratched from the game (knee contusion, i.e., Wells is bad luck) and Mike Scioscia gave Hunter the day off. That meant the Angels 1-2 hitters were Izturis and Howie “I Was Supposed to Compete for Batting Titles in the Majors” Kendrick.
The Angels are about to embark on a murderous 10-game road trip that could very realistically make or break their season. Four in Texas, three in Chicago to face the White Sox, then three at red hot Oakland. The bats need to come alive to have success. With Greinke and a healthy Haren along for the ride, the bats may not have to do much for the Angels to win.
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