The Los Angeles Angels started off their short road trip with a bang by out-slugging the Detroit Tigers 14-8 on Tuesday.
The Angels rode the rare hot bats of J.B. Shuck and Josh Hamilton, who combined to go 6-10 with five RBI and five runs on the night.
Shuck rose his batting average to a respectable .301 while Hamilton looked fresh after sitting out the last three games with a wrist injury and seemed to have pretty good swings on the ball.
The 14 runs on the night were great, but one can’t overlook the eight runs allowed by the pitching. C.J. Wilson allowed five runs on seven hits while walking two and striking out four in just five innings pitched.
After Michael Kohn came in and replaced Wilson for a scoreless sixth inning, right-hander Garret Richards came in and gave up three runs on three hits and one walk on just 2.1 innings pitched.
The problem with the Angels is that they have to score six or more runs on a given night in order to just have a shot at a victory because of their awful pitching. Yes, the pitching has been better of late but that doesn’t mean anything: there was nowhere to go but up.
I had the Angels pegged to at least win two out of three from the Pittsburgh Pirates this past weekend and instead they got swept, because of their pitching.
Their ace, Jered Weaver, has been anything but ace this season, especially in his last two starts where he has allowed five or more runs and has been hit pretty hard with his declining speed; his fastball sits around 84-85 mph nowadays. He is suffering through one of his worst slumps of his career, having only won a single game thus far with a 1-4 record and a 4.65 ERA in seven games.
Then, news came in Thursday night that the Angels most reliable starter to date, Jason Vargas, was being put on the 15-day DL and will miss no less than four of his starts due to a blood-clot in his left armpit that, after a second opinion, will require surgery to remove it.
If everything goes well with the surgery, Vargas can start to rehab 14 days after his surgery today, Wednesday. That puts him in line to be back from the disabled list by the end of July. Vargas is 6-4 with a 3.65 ERA in 14 starts for the Halos, winning the May A.L. Pitcher of the Month award.
Then there’s Wilson who so far has not come close to even earning a portion of his huge contract for the Angels as he has been nothing what the Halos envisioned him to be. He has games where he looks like the ace he was with the Texas Rangers, then there’s games where he looks like a batting practice pitcher.
He sports a 3.88 ERA with a 7-5 record, which aren’t horrible numbers but aren’t numbers someone with a nice huge contract should have. They paid him to be at best a No. 2 guy behind Weaver and to be the Ace when Weaver struggles, well Weaver is struggling and Wilson, although has been better as of late, isn’t giving the Halos their money’s worth.
The Halos’ No. 4 and 5 guys have been just that, their No. 4 and 5. Joe Blanton is off to a horrible 1-10 start, sporting a 5.26 ERA, and Tommy Hanson, who has missed a few games with the death of his father, has also had a meager start to the season with a 4-2 record but a 5.10 ERA in nine games thus far.
The bullpen showed its ugly face once again when they got swept by the Pirates as they were holding a three run lead going into the ninth and closer Ernesto Frieri allowed three runs and then the Halos lost it in the 10th inning.
The Angels rank near the bottom in overall team pitching with an ERA at 28th with a 4.41, 28th in WHIP with a 1.38 and 25th in batting average allowed at .261. Their offense is in the top ten in most categories, so the Halos will need to get serious pitching help soon before it’s too late because the Angels won’t be able to keep scoring 14 runs a game as they did last night.