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Angels Down Snakes, Get On A Plane
When all you have is a hammer, the whole world looks like a nail, and going into this weekend's series against the Diamondbacks, the Angels' offense looked like a whole row of ten-pennies waiting to get pounded in. Recently, Mike Scioscia confessed that while the team is awfully fond of on-base percentage (OBP) as an important statistic to measure for the team's offense, it really has a big crush on hitting with runners in scoring position, and especially, hitting with runners in scoring position with two outs.
The Angels haven't been getting much of either this year, second to last in the league in OBP, and third worst in the league in hitting with runners in scoring position. Surely, a good bit of that can be laid at the feet of the team's highly-touted rookies, but the veterans aren't doing so well at it, either; slumpin' Vlad Guerrero's now hitting a scant .232 with RISP, one one of the worst troughs of his career; talk is that Vlad may sit a game or three to cool his head.With the team playing in an NL park, and Garret Anderson's apparently age-related decline at the plate, his plantar fasciitis helping to give him all the mobility of a fireplug, the Angels tried some radical lineup surgery. In particular, Scioscia took a flyer on the really nutty option of starting Tim Salmon in left on Sunday, only the third time in his career he'd played the position. It basically worked, as Salmon went 1-2 with a pair of walks, although watching him run and run on about a half dozen consecutive Kendry Morales' fouls must surely mean he'll be off his feet for a few days now.
The fact that the lineup actually won on Friday and Saturday had as much to do with the pitching as with the team getting power production from some likely and unlikely sources: Mike Napoli and Orlando Cabrera on Friday both homered, as did Robb Quinlan on Saturday (in the 13th inning, no less!), and the recently less-than-stellar Kendry Morales on Sunday. Tommy Murphy's RBI double plated one on Sunday, as did an astonishing suicide squeeze, one of Scioscia's most telegraphed plays, and yet the Diamondbacks fell for it.
The Angels won the series despite the appalling loss on Sunday, betraying Kelvim Escobar's form while with the Blue Jays that caused that team to take a 'bye on him when he became eligible for free agency. If Jered Weaver's 2-hit, 1-walk, 14-strikeout complete-game victory is any indication, the team's gotta be biting its fingernails down to the elbows wondering whether to call the kid up again, and if so, who to remove from the rotation, and how.
Up next: a three-game set at home against the Rockies, who so far haven't proven to be quite the pushovers they've been in previous years.
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