Results tagged ‘ Jason Isringhausen ’

Catching up with Angels of yesteryear …

Torii HunterThe Angels, in case you missed it, had quite the turnover this offseason. I knew that. But it didn’t really hit me until today, when I decided to compile a list of all the guys who are on a new team this spring. Below are nine of them — with Jason Isringhausen still in limbo — to catch you up on how 2012 Angels look heading into 2013 …

RF Torii Hunter (DET)

Numbers: .207 BA (6-for-29), 1 HR, 2 RBI

Notes: No surprises for Hunter this spring. He’ll play right field and bat second (Jim Leyland likes him there). His son, Darius McClinton-Hunter, was not indicted in the sexual-assault case.

SP Zack Greinke (LAD)

Numbers: 3.60 ERA (2 ER, 5 IP), 3 K, 1 BB

Notes: Greinke missed Sunday’s bullpen session with minor forearm tightness and missed Wednesday’s start because of the flu, but he had an impressive bullpen session on Friday. Earlier in the spring, Greinke went into his social-anxiety disorder and his decision to sign with the Dodgers.

SP Dan Haren (WAS)

Numbers: 0-1, 3.60 ERA (2 ER, 5 IP), 5 K, 1 BB

Notes: Haren felt “a lot of good stuff” came out of his last outing. Last year, he said, “I didn’t trust myself.” Haren was involved in a prank-call this spring. Somebody made Peter Bourjos‘ cell phone ring in a pre-workout meeting — he suspected Mark Trumbo or Jered Weaver, or both — and the person on the other end was Haren, who was put on speaker phone so he could briefly talk with all of his ex-teammates.

SP Ervin Santana (KCR)

Numbers: 1.80 ERA (1 ER, 5 IP), 6 K, 1 BB

Notes: At $13 million, Santana is the highest-paid player on the Royals this year. They’re counting on a bounceback year.

DH Kendrys Morales (SEA)

Numbers: .320 BA (8-for-25), 2 HR, 4 RBI

Notes: Now that he has a full season under his belt after that devastating ankle injury, Morales can finally just have a normal spring. That’s big, given that this is his walk year.

INF Maicer Izturis (TOR)

Numbers: .160 BA (4-for-25), 1 RBI

Notes: Not a good start for Izturis, since he’s going to be fighting for playing time.

RP Jordan Walden (ATL)

Numbers: 1 IP, 4 R (1 ER), 3 H, 0 SO, 0 BB

Notes: Walden hasn’t appeared in a game since Feb. 23 due to a bulging disk in his back. He received an epidural injection in Atlanta on Wednesday, and if he continues to progress, he could throw off a mound again this weekend.

RP LaTroy Hawkins (NYM)

Numbers: 1 IP, 0 R, 2 H, 1 SO, 0 BB

Notes: Hawkins is 40 years old and now, after signing a Minor League deal with the Mets this offseason, has a good chance to make an Opening Day roster with his 10th different team.

C Bobby Wilson (NYY)

Numbers: .167 BA (2-for-12)

Notes: Some of you may be surprised to see he’s even on the Yankees. Wilson was claimed off waivers by the Blue Jays early in the offseason, but was released in late November and signed with the Yankees on a Minor League deal a couple weeks later. He’ll be in Triple-A, but with not much talent in front of him — Austin Romine, Francisco Cervelli, Chris Stewart — perhaps he can win playing time.

Alden

Report Card: Bullpen …

Ernesto Frieri, CL

2012: 2.32 ERA, 23-for-25 SV, 66 IP, 98 SO, 30 BB, .99 WHIP
2011: 2.71 ERA, 0-for-0 SV, 63 IP, 76 SO, 34 BB, 1.35 WHIP

Frieri was the bullpen’s savior when he came over unheralded from the Padres, utilizing a deceptive, Jered-Weaver-on-steroids delivery and a funky fastball to navigate through the first half basically untouched, with no runs and 45 strikeouts in his first 26 1/3 innings with Anaheim. As the league got to know him a little bit, Frieri got hit around a little bit, most glaringly blowing two saves — and two Zack Greinke gems — in a five-day span in mid-September. In the future, he’ll have to work on his slider to off-set that fastball, and the Angels’ bullpen may be better off if he’s the eighth-inning man rather than the closer. But he still had a fantastic year and there’s no reason to believe he can’t put up those numbers again. His stuff is that electric.

Grade: A-

Scott Downs, SU

2012: 3.15 ERA, 9-for-12 SV, 45 2/3 IP, 32 SO, 17 BB, 1.31 WHIP
2006-11: 2.57 ERA, 3 SV, 61 IP, 50 SO, 20 BB, 1.17 WHIP

It wasn’t a typically dominant year for Downs, who’s now 36 and looked every bit his age in the second half, giving up 15 runs in 15 2/3 innings while suffering a few nicknack injuries throughout the year. Most concerning, of course, is the shoulder, which prompted him to miss 20 games in August. I’m told he didn’t have any sort of procedure on it this offseason, but it’ll be something to watch for a guy with the tenure of Downs, who’s a critical component of a thin Angels ‘pen. He’ll be in the final season of a three-year deal in 2013.

Grade: B-

Garrett Richards, MR

2012: 4.69 ERA, 30 G (9 GS), 71 IP, 47 SO, 34 BB, 1.56 WHIP

As much as manager Mike Scioscia may have wanted it to happen, Richards wasn’t really a great fit in the bullpen. The Angels put him there permanently after recalling him in late August, giving Richards several opportunities late in games. But he was rather hit and miss — mostly miss — with a 5.82 ERA in 17 innings. Next year, though, the 24-year-old right-hander will go back to starting, and you’d figure he’d have a set spot, considering his upside and the amount of holes Jerry Dipoto may have to fill in his rotation this offseason. In an ideal world, though, he’s the fifth starter in 2013.

Grade: C-

Kevin Jepsen, MR

2012: 3.02 ERA, 44 2/3 IP, 38 SO, 12 BB, 1.14 WHIP
2009-11: 4.76 ERA, 42 IP, 38 SO, 19 BB, 1.54 WHIP

The explosive Jepsen the Angels had in 2010, and the one they anticipated coming out of Spring Training, finally materialized when he returned from the Minors in July. In 40 appearances since then, the 28-year-old right-hander posted a 1.67 ERA in 37 2/3 innings, striking out 34 and walking 10. Now the Angels hope he’s here to stay.

Grade: B

Jordan Walden, MR

2012: 3.46 ERA, 1-for-2 SV, 39 IP, 48 SO, 18 BB, 1.36 WHIP
2011: 2.98 ERA, 32-for-42 SV, 60 1/3 IP, 67 SO, 26 BB, 1.24 WHIP

Walden was just never right in 2012. He lost his closer’s job after a walk-off homer in Tampa in late April, missed about six weeks with a neck and right biceps strain and his average fastball velocity dropped, from 97.5 to 96.3 mph. The 24-year-old right-hander talked about incorporating his changeup more and improving his slider, but if he can’t dial it up to triple-digits — like he did frequently in 2011 and hardly ever in 2012 — he can’t be successful.

Grade: C-

LaTroy Hawkins, MR

2012: 3.64 ERA, 1 SV, 42 IP, 23 SO, 13 BB, 1.38 WHIP
2000-11: 3.29 ERA, 7 SV, 62 IP, 45 SO, 19 BB, 1.27 WHIP

Hawkins, and the man who will follow, got a lot of criticism from fans this year because of what he didn’t do — help preserve leads by being a consistent force late in games. But frankly, that’s not really what he was expected to do. Dipoto identified the 39-year-old Hawkins early in the offseason, eventually signing him to a $3 million deal, not because he expected him to be a shutdown guy late in games but because he expected him to eat innings, throw strikes and guide the young guys. Hawkins did that for the most part, but he faded down the stretch and eventually lost Scioscia’s trust. He’ll head elsewhere this offseason, perhaps on a Minor League deal. The fact he was counted on so much says a lot about just how thin this bullpen was.

Grade: C-

Jason Isringhausen, MR

2012: 4.14 ERA, 0 SV, 45 2/3 IP, 31 SO, 19 BB, 1.38 WHIP
2000-11: 3.10 ERA, 26 SV, 55 IP, 50 SO, 23 BB, 1.22 WHIP

Izzy didn’t have much left in the tank while finishing out the year with the Mets last season, and he had hardly anything left throughout 2012 with the Angels. It showed, of course, as the 40-year-old, 16-year veteran gave up 10 runs in his last 10 2/3 innings and appeared in only four games in all of September. A couple of positives from Isringhausen this year: He stayed healthy, and considering the circumstances he came in under — signed late in Spring Training, on a Minor League contract, didn’t make the team until his opt-out deadline — he probably provided more than the Angels expected. The problem, as with Hawkins, is that Isringhausen was never supposed to be as important as he was at one point. He’ll probably retire this offseason. If he does, he noted that his final pitch struck out Michael Young. “Tough to beat that,” he said.

Grade: D+

Jerome Williams, LR

2012: 4.58 ERA, 32 G (15 GS), 137 2/3 IP, 98 SO, 35 BB, 1.26 WHIP

Williams was, in a word, serviceable. He began the season as the fifth starter, throwing a few clunkers (like seven runs in 5 2/3 innings vs. the Mariners on June 6) and a few gems (like a shutout against the Twins on May 1). Then — due in part to his asthma attack, Richards’ presence and the Greinke acquisition — he spent the rest of the season as a long reliever, which actually became a critical role considering that six-week stretch when the entire rotation seemed to go bad. Now, he’s heading into his second offseason of arbitration and is a non-tender candidate. Will the Angels bring him back? It’ll depend on what they do with the rest of their rotation.

Grade: C

Week 1: Infield.
Week 2: Outfield.
Week 3: Starters.

Alden

Question of the Day, 10/1 …

Is there a list of Angels who have options and/or being lost to free agency? — @_Neat

I can give you one right here …

Free agents: SP Zack Greinke, OF Torii Hunter, INF Maicer Izturis, RP LaTroy Hawkins, RP Jason Isringhausen

Club options: SP Dan Haren ($15.5M; $3.5M buyout), SP Ervin Santana ($13M; $1M)

Mutual option: C Chris Iannetta ($5M; $250K buyout)

Alden

Aug. 1 in Texas — more than just 1 of 162? …

You remember that game, right? The Angels, up six at one point, blew a one-run lead in the ninth, then a three-run lead in the 10th, capped by a walk-off single by Elvis Andrus off Jason Isringhausen. Had the Angels won that night, they would’ve taken the first three on the road against the Rangers, moved to two games back in the American League West — representing their shortest deficit since way back on April 11 — and put themselves 11 games over .500 for the first time all season.

But they lost. Then they lost the next night, finishing with a split against the Rangers. Then they proceeded to drop two of three against the White Sox, Athletics and, most recently, Mariners, putting them 3-7 since that Texas heartbreak. Now, they’re eight back in the AL West (largest deficit since May 22) and only five games above .500 (least since June 19). The Rangers, meanwhile, are 7-3 since that game, having just taken back-to-back games against a talented Tigers team.

After that Aug. 1 game at Rangers Ballpark, Torii Hunter dropped his oft-used line and talked about how the Angels “need to have amnesia.” Tough game, heartbreaking, but they needed to flip the page.

Easier said than done, though.

Sometimes one loss — especially a loss like that one — can linger a little longer than others.

Was that the case with the Aug. 1 defeat?

Albert Pujols didn’t believe so when asked about it after Sunday’s 4-1 loss to the Mariners.

“You can point at that, but I don’t think so because we came back the next day and scored nine runs. We fought back,” Pujols said. “I don’t think so. You can look at the series in Texas and that game, but we went to Chicago and put ourselves in position to win the series, too. We went to Oakland and we did the same thing. I wish we would know what it is. It’s the same thing I tell myself — ‘What happened two weeks ago? I was killing everything. And now the same pitch, I’m missing it, fouling it off, hitting a groundball.’ And I just laugh at myself. I think that’s the beautiful thing about this game, that sometimes when you think you have it figured out, you don’t.”

This is just one theory about why the Angels are struggling again. Others have asked whether they expended so much energy coming back from their April funk that they’ve now hit a proverbial wall. And the numbers will tell you that it’s the pitching staff — with an AL-worst 6.04 ERA since July 30 — that’s mostly responsible.

After Sunday’s loss, manager Mike Scioscia called a meeting to bring some perspective to his team.

The message: As bad as they’ve played, they’re only two games out of a playoff spot (the second Wild Card).

“We just need to continue to push and know that we’re a pretty good ballclub,” Pujols said. “Every ballclub goes through this. I mean, Texas just went through this, Oakland — everybody. Everybody has to go through this for you to be a championship ballclub. If everything is roses, then there’s nothing to help you grow and get better at. Because when the tough situation comes, how can you handle that? I think what we went through in April, we handled it pretty well and we got into a good groove, now we’re [struggling] again. We’ve been there before, and we know that there’s no time to panic or anything. There’s still a lot of baseball left.”

The Angels hope there aren’t any more games like Aug. 1 left.

Alden

Is it too late to upgrade the bullpen? …

Here’s all you need to know about the pitching staff lately: During a just-completed 10-game road trip, the Angels’ offense averaged seven runs per game, notched double-digit hits seven times and totaled 23 homers … and still lost six of those games. That’s because, of course, the pitching was that bad. Angels pitchers combined to post a 6.78 ERA, giving up 72 runs (66 earned) and 21 homers in 87 2/3 innings during that trip.

The rotation posted a 5.07 mark, getting only four quality starts (two by Jered Weaver, one each by Dan Haren and Ervin Santana) and watching as C.J. Wilson and Zack Greinke combined to give up 24 runs (21 earned) in 22 1/3 innings. The bullpen was even worse, combining to post a 10.54 mark (or, 32 earned runs in 27 1/3 innings), losing five games and blowing five save chances.

Now, through the second half, the Angels rank ninth in the American League in ERA from their starters (4.78) and dead last — by a wide margin — in ERA from their relievers (6.65).

Houston, we have a problem.

Now, how do you fix it?

We’ll get the easy one out of the way first. You don’t do anything to fix the rotation. You simply expect proven commodities like Wilson and Greinke to figure it out, continue to lean on Weaver (15-1, 2.13 ERA, Cy Young favorite), get encouragement out of the recent outings of Haren (2.00 ERA last three starts) and Santana (five earned runs last 11 innings), and rest easy with Garrett Richards as a fall-back option.

There’s no reason why this rotation shouldn’t turn it around. (If it doesn’t, then I would hate to be pitching coach Mike Butcher.)

The bullpen situation is a lot more dire. It looked set, as it rolled through May and June with a collective  3.02 ERA and a 1.22 WHIP. But that was with Ernesto Frieri going on a ridiculous (unrealistic?) run and, most importantly, with Scott Downs healthy. You really notice just how thin this relief corps is when Downs isn’t there. Suddenly, you’re relying on two 39-year-olds (LaTroy Hawkins and Jason Isringhausen), one guy who was in Triple-A a little over a month ago (Kevin Jepsen), two guys who would be in Triple-A if not for injuries (David Carpenter and Hisanori Takahashi) and one guy very few had heard of before May (Frieri) to hold leads.

The optimists’ view: Downs and Jordan Walden are slated to start rehab assignments soon and should be back shortly thereafter, and this latest rough stretch is only an anomaly for a bullpen that put together eight really solid weeks.

The cynics’ view: Downs is rehabbing a shoulder strain, was hit around right before landing on the DL and there’s no telling how effective he’ll be upon returning; Walden hasn’t looked right all year; and general manager Jerry Dipoto has to do something to address this ‘pen.

The Angels’ first-year GM didn’t find the reliever market very appealing in July, however. Granted, this was before the road-trip meltdown, but nontheless, here’s what Dipoto told me just after the non-waiver Trade Deadline when asked whether Downs’ injury made addressing the bullpen an even greater priority in August: “Not at all. You’re always open to any way that you can get better. Scotty’s been terrific for us all year, we don’t anticipate this being a long, drawn-out process, but like I said, you never know. And as a result, like I said all along, you remain as flexible as you can be. We’ll keep turning over the stones.”

Will gold show up under any of them?

Keep in mind: Now that the non-waiver Deadline has passed, deals involving players on the 40-man roster cannot be made unless the players already have cleared waivers. In other words, the player must be offered to the other teams in reverse order of the standings — with his own league first — and if he is claimed by someone, he cannot be traded. The club that placed the player on waivers can either withdraw the request and keep the player, or let the player go to the claiming team, which would then have the rights to the player.

I was personally shocked that ex-Royals lefty Jose Mijares slipped through 13 AL teams and landed with the Giants on Aug. 6, given his success and salary. Other names to keep in mind this month (and this is just a rough assumption): Darren Oliver (Blue Jays), Matt Reynolds (Rockies), Joe Thatcher (Padres, but out until mid-to-late August with knee tendinitis) and Wesley Wright (Astros) for lefties; Matt Belisle (Rockies), Rafael Betancourt (Rockies), Shawn Camp (Cubs) and Casey Janssen (Blue Jays) for righties.

Thing is, the Angels don’t have much flexibility on the payroll (especially not after taking on the pro-rated portion of Greinke’s expiring deal) or on the roster. Takahashi and Carpenter can be optioned, but that would be for when Walden and Downs are activated; adding someone extra before rosters expand would probably mean one of their out-of-options guys (Hawkins? Isringhausen? Jerome Williams?) are placed on waivers, since there’s no chance they option Frieri or Jepsen.

Perhaps that’s why the Angels’ front office is hesitant to add someone unless he’s a clear upgrade.

Question is: Is it too late to find that clear upgrade?

Alden 

Angels get Weaver back, & the rich get richer

Heading into Wednesday night, the Angels had been without their best pitcher for nearly three weeks, had seen their No. 2 starter struggle uncharacteristically (by his standards) and had stomached a mystifying start from their No. 3 man.

And still their rotation had the lowest ERA in the American League.

The Angels have plenty of pitching depth on their big league roster. Enough so that they largely relied on it even while ace Jered Weaver missed time on the disabled list with a lower back strain. Now, after receiving six shutout innings from Weaver in his return, the Angels’ staff ERA sits at 3.51 — even with Dan Haren struggling through a 3.97 ERA and Ervin Santana sporting a 5.16 mark.

The No. 1 ERA in the AL: Weaver, at 2.40.

No. 2: C.J. Wilson, at 2.44.

Then there’s Garrett Richards, the young stud who has given up two earned runs in 21 innings and stayed on board after Jerome Williams was placed on the disabled list. And there’s Williams himself, who has pitched much better than his 4.45 mark would suggest, being one of the better No. 5 starters in baseball. When Williams returns (that’s unknown, but as scary as his shortness of breath on Monday night was, at least he’s not injured, per se), the Angels will have six capable starters, possibly all in the big leagues.

That’s big because the Angels have hardly nothing in the Minors. With David Pauley being claimed off waivers from the Blue Jays, and Brad Mills and Trevor Bell on the DL, the Triple-A Salt Lake Bees have had to use relievers like Juan Rincon in the rotation to fill the void.

It’s big because in this era, even the best clubs need big time help beyond their five starters to succeed. In fact, six of the last seven World Series champions needed at least 10 starts from six guys throughout the regular season, with the ’06 Cardinals (with Jason Isringhausen as their closer and Albert Pujols as their star) needing 13 from seven different pitchers. The only exception here was the ’09 Yankees, who went to a three-man staff in the playoffs and got through the regular season with CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, Andy Pettitte and Joba Chamberlain as full-time starters. But even they needed at least six starts from four others.

Simply put, the cliche is true — you can never have too much quality starting pitching.

The Angels, at least, have a fair amount.

Alden 

** From last night: Question of the Day, on Mark Trumbo or Mike Trout for Angels MVP. 

What the Angels can do about their bullpen …

Well, right now, not much.

The Angels’ bullpen is a concern, no doubt. And it will be an even greater concern if it turns out Scott Downs has to miss more time with a right ankle injury (that doesn’t appear to be the case at the moment).

But what is there to do?

Free-agent lefty Mike Gonzalez? He walks a whole lot of batters and wants a whole lot of money, which is why he’s still unemployed. I heard that during the offseason, the Angels offered him the same Minor League contract Jason Isringhausen wound up taking, but he wanted no part of it.

A trade? In April, there isn’t a single club that (A) wants to trade relievers or (B) has relievers to trade.

The Angels will have to work with what they have. They designated righty Rich Thompson for assignment for a couple of reasons: 1. His velocity is way down this year and they know they can’t trust him in high-leverage situations; 2. They wanted to bring up the young David Carpenter so they’d have at least one ground-ball pitcher in their relief corps. A source close to the situation said the Angels will try to trade Thompson before placing him on waivers (no takers so far), and if not, hope he clears so he can at least stay in their system.

Angels relievers gave up six runs in 5 1/3 innings on Sunday (two of which came on a Raul Ibanez home run off Isringhausen that hasn’t landed yet) and have a 5.34 ERA so far this season.

One thing to keep in mind, though: This bullpen will start to look a lot better when the starters start providing more depth. The ‘pen was never built to pick up as many innings as it has had to in recent days. Heck, Jordan Walden hasn’t even had a save chance yet.

So, the best thing for this ailing bullpen may be Jered Weaver, Dan Haren, Ervin Santana, C.J. Wilson and Jerome Williams.

There’s nothing else out there anyway.

Alden

Will CJ pitch in first series vs. Texas? …

OK, so Mike Scioscia made it official today with his rotation — Jered Weaver first, Dan Haren second, Ervin Santana third and C.J. Wilson fourth. No surprises there considering how they’ve lined up all spring, though the decision to put Santana in front of Wilson is interesting considering CJ’s track record and the money he’s making (more on that later).

But looking ahead just a little here, the order does bring up an interesting question: Will Wilson take the mound in Arlington from May 11-13, in the first series between the two division rivals?

That depends on what Scioscia does with his off days. We already know he’ll use the April 10 off day to skip the fifth starter, which would mean Jerome Williams or Garrett Richards won’t be needed until April 15 at Yankee Stadium. Scioscia will have two other off days before the Rangers series: April 23 and May 10.

If he keeps the fifth starter through both of those off days, Wilson would line up to take the mound at his old stomping grounds in the series opener on Friday, May 11.

But, if he uses the April 23 off day to skip the fourth starter, then CJ wouldn’t take the mound in that series at all. The key date to watch will be April 26. If the rotation comes back to the top and Weaver starts that game, C.J. won’t line up against Texas. If the 5th starter takes the ball that day, then he pitches on May 11.

Let’s see what happens.

Now, on to today’s lineups …

Angels (18-12-2)

Erick Aybar, SS
Howie Kendrick, 2B
Albert Pujols, 1B
Torii Hunter, RF
Vernon Wells, LF
Mark Trumbo, 3B
Chris Iannetta, C
Peter Bourjos, CF
C.J. Wilson, SP

Dodgers (15-14-4)

Tony Gwynn, LF
Justin Sellers, SS
Andre Ethier, RF
Juan Rivera, 1B
Adam Kennedy, 3B
Tim Federowicz, C
Luis Cruz, 2B
Matt Angle, CF
Nathan Eovaldi, SP

Some links from Wednesday …

Some AL West links …

  • Nelson Cruz and Mike Adams got dinged up in Mexico City
  • Mariners option Charlie Furbush and Carlos Peguero to set roster
  • Dallas Braden has injection, recovery pushed back

And the Heat came through against the 76ers last night, even without Dwyane Wade. Now if they could only do that on the road.

Alden

Angels 12, Dodgers 3 … (‘Big A’ opener)

Recap

Dan Haren was crisp in his final spring tune-up, Mark Trumbo homered and the Angels cranked out 14 hits for the blowout in Game 1 of the Freeway Series.

The good

Howie Kendrick, Peter Bourjos and Torii Hunter each went 2-for-4.

Trumbo hit a line-drive three-run homer that just cleared the left-field wall, giving him five on the spring.

Haren gave up just one run on six hits in 5 2/3 innings, walking none and striking out five. Through 26 2/3 big league spring innings, Haren has posted a 2.05 ERA and — get this — has walked just two batters while striking out 25. Best of all for him on Monday, he got over that “dead arm” issue he had been dealing with.

The bad

Trumbo had a bit of an adventure at third base in the second inning, when he awkwardly charged a slow roller by Juan Rivera, resulting in an infield single, and had a hard time tracking a high popup by James Loney before recovering.

Jason Isringhausen struggled for his second straight outing, giving up four singles and a run while only recording one out in the seventh. That’s six runs, nine hits and four outs he’s registered in two outings since being added to the 40-man roster.

Albert Pujols update: 0-for-3 in his first game at Angel Stadium, though he also drove in a run with a walk and was robbed of a single on a slick play by third baseman Juan Uribe.

Best quote

Pujols, on the pressure of a big contract and a new team: “To tell you the truth, there’s [three] times that I feel pressure: my first at-bat in Spring Training, first at-bat Opening Day and first at-bat in the playoffs. The rest is just baseball. My dad always told me you can’t be afraid of making a mistake; you always need to learn from your mistakes. And there’s no pressure at all. I’m playing the game that I love.”

Best play (that I saw)

In the second inning, Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp robbed Trumbo of extra bases, diving to his right to snare a line drive in the gap.

Alden

Angels 11, Royals 8 …

Recap

The Angels’ offense went absolutely bonkers on Thursday, putting up 20 hits, hitting back-to-back-to-back homers and totaling nine runs in two innings (the second and fourth) to win a slugfest.

The good

Let’s see, where do I begin. Oh, the offense. Well, basically everybody did well.

Erick Aybar (3-for-4 with two runs scored), Howie Kendrick (2-for-3 with a walk), Albert Pujols (4-for-4 with three RBIs), Vernon Wells (2-for-3 with an RBI), Kendrys Morales (2-for-3 with a homer) and Hank Conger (2-for-5 with a homer) all had multi-hit games from the starting lineup.

Morales, Conger (both from the right side of the plate, which is their weaker sides) and Mark Trumbo (to right-center field, which he’s done a very good job of this spring) went back-to-back-to-back off Royals lefty Everett Teaford.

Morales is now batting .625 (10-for-16) with two homers in Cactus League play and is one of several everyday players off to good starts. Aybar (.411), Kendrick (.404), Pujols (.388) and Trumbo (.341) are also swinging the bat well.

Jordan Walden recorded two strikeouts in a clean ninth inning on Thursday, and has now posted three straight scoreless appearances — giving up one hit, walking none and striking out five.

Jason Isringhausen recorded his second straight clean inning, which is good considering the Angels must decide by 9 a.m. PT if they want to pay an extra $100K to keep him on the roster.

The bad

Not much, besides the fact Eric Hurley gave up seven runs on eight hits and three homers in three innings. But he had already been sent down.

Best quote

Mike Scioscia, on Teaford hitting Peter Bourjos on his first pitch after giving up three straight homers: “I don’t think any of us liked that. Our guy was getting knocked around in the first inning, and we didn’t throw at anybody. You try to make better pitches. It was something that was uncalled for.”

Alden

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