Sunday, April 10, 2005

The Difference a Day Makes

In the immortal words of The Eagles, last night's game gave me a "peaceful easy feeling". Quite the opposite from Friday evening's gut-wrenching horror show of a game where Paul Byrd looked like a nervous rookie with a triple A farm team playing behind him. Kevin Gregg got a rare start on Saturday thanks to Kelvim Escobar's strained bicep and while he was not over-powering by any stretch, he was effective. Gregg through 92 pitches in five innings, 54 for strikes. But what he lacked in efficiency Gregg and his teammates made up for in grit. The Royals managed just three hits against the reliever-turned-spot-starter, but combined with four Gregg walks and a costly wild-pitch, KC was able to manufacture three runs. But that's all they would get thanks to some clutch pitching from Gregg who struck-out Mike Sweeney in the second with the bases loaded. That ended the threat and had Sweeney come through then Gregg likely does not stay in the game very long and an already over-taxed bullpen would have had to carry the burden further.

Other key points from Saturday night:

*Will the real Esteban Yan please stand-up? Yan pitched three scoreless innings with the only blemish being a couple of walks that never made it to second base. Yan was hammered throughout the spring but so far in the regular season Yan has pitched 5.1 innings and given up just one hit, maintaining a perfect 0.00 ERA.

*Bengie Molina clubbed his second homer of the year, a three-run job that put the game on ice for the Halos. Molina is hitting .353 with a .706 slugging percentage in the young season. If Molina can stay healthy he may finally be able to enter the ranks of the AL elite catchers by providing offense, particularly power, to compliment his top-notch defense.

*Maicer Izturis got his first start of the year in place of the struggling Robb Quinlan. Izturis made the most of his chance by hitting a triple and scoring twice. The speed component to the Angels game is key. In the fourth inning Izturis blazed down the first base line forcing Royals second baseman Ruben Gotay to miss the bag as he attempted to force a sliding Bengie Molina at second. With both runners safe Chone Figgins and Darin Erstad each had RBI base hits and both would later score on an RBI double from Vladimir Guerrero. The speedy Izturis looked a lot like Chone Figgins in 2002 and will likely be competing with Figgins for playing time when Adam Kennedy and Dallas McPherson return either later this month or in early May.

*Manager Mike Scioscia executed a hit-and-run with Vlad Guerrero on second and Garrett Anderson at the plate. Guerrero scored easily when Anderson was able to drive the ball into the right-center field gap. The big bats are great, but the ability to generate runs with speed and timely hitting will serve the Angels well this season.

*The Angels started the game on Saturday last in the AL in offense and runs scored. Look for that stat to turn around quickly.

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