Saturday, April 09, 2005

Angels Look Putrid Against Royals

In a game pitting the low payroll Royals and their team of Triple A farm-hands and odd-lot veterans against the polished and superstar-laden Angels, it was the Royals who came away looking like champions. Yes, it was only one game, but it showed that this Angels team has not yet jelled and that good starting pitching can take a team a long way.

Young Denny Bautista put on a pitching exhibition that left the Halos frustated in the batters box. Paul Byrd made some costly mistakes in his debut, and had some shoddy defense behind him. Most notable was a costly error by Chone Figgins in the second inning that brought back memories of his error-filled days at third base last season filling in for the injured Troy Glaus. That error led to two runs and set a tempo for the Angels for the rest of the evening.

The crushing blow against Byrd was in the fifth when David Dejesus tripled and then scored on a suicide squeeze bunt that fell to the ground about one inch from Byrd's diving glove. If Byrd makes the catch it is an easy double play, instead it makes the game 4-0. It was interesting to see a perfectly executed squeeze play just a night after the Angels, and their expensive new centerfielder Steve Finley, failed to execute a squeeze. In Finley's defense he did single home the run but it did illustrate an early bad sign for the Angels, an inability to get the little things done to manufacture runs.

The reality of this game is that the Angels were just owned by Bautista. Byrd was not awful but he was not real good either. Had the Angels offense scored seven or eight runs most people would have overlooked Byrd's performance. But when Byrd's effort is compared to Bautista, it looked pretty bad. Bautista was acquired last June in a trade with Baltimore for reliever Jason Grimsley. If Bautista is able to continue pitching at that level, he will be this year's Johann Santana and the Royals will have made one of the best trades in their history.

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