Thursday, June 30, 2005

Texas Venting Against Angels Young Arms

The Texas Rangers are venting their frustrations (losing, Rogers-Rage, etc) on rookie Ervin Santana this afternoon as they barraged the youngster for 7 runs in just 4 innings. The hitting barrage continued against Joel Peralta who yielded his first earned run since June 5th. He yielded 5 in fact in his one inning of work before Jake Woods took over to allow two more earned runs the following inning. In the bottom of the seventh the score is Texas 16 Angels 3 and Woods is back on the mound to absorb more punishment and give a break to the rest of the Halo bullpen. Woods just surrendered a two-run jack to Hank Blalock and now the third homerun of the day to Kevin Mench! I have to keep retyping this as Texas scores faster than I can get this stupid post entered.

The Angel pitchers have served up gopher balls in a big way as Mark Teixeira joins Mench in having a multi-homer day with two jacks while Soriano and Dellucci and the aforementioned Blalock earlier hit long-balls of their own.

After the Angels lose this game (they now trail 18-3) their lead on Texas will be 6 1/2 games, the same as it was going into the four game series.

The Angels will enjoy a 'soft' portion of their schedule going into the All-Star Break as they face the lowly Royals in KC before returning home against Minnesota and Seattle. After the Break the Halos head to the Twin Cities for a quick 4-game roadie against the Twinks before returning home to face Oakland and the Yankees. They finish the month on the road in Toronto and the Bronx. Should be a very interesting month.

Score Update: Angels get a run on a single by Vlad Guerrero that plates Chone Figgins but the big rally they need is foiled by Josh Paul who hits into a double play. Not quite sure why Paul is now catching and Jose Molina is at first but when it is 18-4 I don't care all that much.

Where was Silent Bob?

Apparently Ben Affleck married Jennifer Garner on some exclusive celebrity island. But more noteworthy was this tidbit from USA Today:
Affleck had a low-key bachelor party June 24 at his Brentwood, Calif., home attended by Chasing Amy costar Jason Mewes, Us says.

Affleck has a bachelor party and the only person noted as attending was Jason Mewes, famous as 'Jay' of 'Jay & Silent Bob' fame? I'll bet it was low-key. Very mellow with lots of muchies available if you get my drift. Still, if your Garner it beats having a bachelor party thrown for your fiance by say, Charlie Sheen.

Rangers End Halo's Streak at 8

The Angels came close to notching their ninth win a row last night when Dallas McPherson homered off Texas closer Francisco Cordero in the ninth to tie the game. But Texas came back in the 11th to win the game off of reliever Scot Shields.

Still, you have to admire this team that is giving Texas all they can handle every night. The Angels will look to win the series outright tonight when rookie Ervin Santana takes the hill against Texas right-hander Chris Young. Santana has been very strong at home this season but in his only road start the youngster gave up six runs on eight hits to the Indians. But that was Santana's first start in the majors so look for a more confident and poised pitcher tonight in Arlington.

Young had not given up more than three runs since April 17 before he faced the Angels last week and was battered for 5 runs in just 5 innings. But he did bounce back against Houston to hold the 'Stros to just 3 runs over 7 innings. Still, in three starts against Young the Halo hitters are averaging better than a run an inning. Not to mention the fact that Angel hitters always feel comfortable swinging the lumber at the Ballpark.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Awesome Site

Update: I have gotten some e-mails from people who have tried to access Google Earth but when they reach the download page they get this message:

Google Earth downloads temporarily delayed

Thanks for your interest in Google Earth, but we're sorry we can't offer you a download right now. As you know, Google Earth is in beta, and we're still building out our ability to take on new users. We're making good progress, and expect to be able to accept new downloads shortly, so we recommend you check back daily at earth.google.com. We hope to be able to welcome you and other new planet surfers soon.

We appreciate your patience,

The Google Earth Team

That sucks. But this is from the people who brought you G-Mail -- the wonderful free e-mail account that you can't get unless you are 'referred' by someone else. Do not fret, everyone will be assimilated by Google in good time...
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For anyone with a mild interest in geography the pay site once known as "Keyhole" has been assimilated by corporate giant Google and transmogrified into the now free "Google Earth". You have to download some software on to your PC (sorry Mac guy, they don't have this for you yet) and then you can do "flyovers" from one location to another using high resolution digital satellite pictures. Of course, if you want really high definition you have to pay for Google Earth Pro but the free version is good enough for most people. I flew from my house in Arizona over to Angels Stadium (just plug in 2000 Gene Autry Way, Anaheim, CA) and then hit "Search" and you will fly right to it. Fairly awesome technology while quite frightening at the same time. Now the trendy stalker can invest $400 for Google Earth Pro and watch his ex-girlfriend for hours on end from the conform of his Mom's basement.

It is apparent that the government (or whoever has access to the satellites) can watch what we are doing quite easily from space.

Viva Big Brother.

Court: Angels Can Keep "L.A." Name for Now

In a blow to the city of Anaheim's ongoing battle to have their name reinstated as part of the Angels official moniker, a state appeals court ruled that the Angels can continue to refer to themselves as the Los Angeles Angels until the matter goes to trial on November 7th.

In a case that gets weaker and less relevant by the moment, the city was hoping a temporary injunction would restore the name "Anaheim Angels" to the organization. Angels owner Arte Moreno changed the name in January in order to make the team more marketable to not only all Southern Californians, but to those outside the area who want to associate themselves with the name "Los Angeles". Just not necessarily followed by "Dodgers".

Anaheim is facing an uphill battle as the Angels are enjoying one of their best seasons on the field and are referred to on a daily basis by local, national and international media as the "Los Angeles Angels" and occasionally as the "Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim" (their official name). The LA Angels name, while certainly not warmly embraced by many Halo faithful, is at the very least being tolerated thanks in large part to their first-place standing in the American League West Division. This latest set-back for the city of Anaheim comes just as the Angels are making their most aggressive push of the season, opening a 6 1/2 game lead over second-place Texas and establishing themselves as one of the elite teams in Major League Baseball.

The 'worst-case' scenario for the city would be for the Angels to go on to win the World Series. But even a Division Championship as the "Los Angeles Angels" could be enough to win over stubborn fans of the Anaheim Angels name. So far this season fans do not seem to be holding any grudges as the Angels are on course for another 3 million in attendance for the year.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Angels Start Crucial Series With 5-1 Win Over Texas

The Angels welcomed division rival Texas to town tonight and put together the type of game that Halo management had hoped to see more of this season. Dominant pitching from Paul Byrd and power hitting from Vlad Guerrero were the story as the Angels dumped the Rangers 5-1.

Halo hitters pummeled Texas starter Chris Young for 10 hits and five runs while handing the tough rightie just his second loss since April 28th. In fact, Young has only given up five or more runs twice this season and the other time was on April 12th when the Angels touched him up for 7 runs. Young will get a shot at redemption next week when the Angels visit Arlington but chances are he will not be looking forward to facing a suddenly healthy and potent Angel line-up, particularly when they seem to have his number. Young's numbers against the Angels in 2005: 0-2 with an 8.76 ERA.

The top of the order came through on Monday as Darin Erstad and Chone Figgins combined to go 5 for 10 with 3 runs scored. In addition to his homer, Guerrero also doubled and knocked in four of the Halo's five runs.

Other Notes from Monday:

Darin Erstad extended his hitting streak to 20 games and set a career best mark for consecutive games with at least one hit. The 20 game mark is tied for the longest streak in the majors this season as well.

Maicer Izturis returned from the DL and got the start due to a late scratch of Orlando Cabrera who complained of a sore right elbow. X-rays were negative but Cabrera said he woke-up Monday morning and "it felt like I threw nine innings yesterday." Izturis was recalled on June 18th while infielder Robb Quinlan was optioned to Triple-A Salt Lake.

The Angels signed 16 players from the 2005 First-Year Player Draft. Obviously none of these young men are represented by Scott Boras.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Donnybrook! Almost...

The Colonel seems to be up to some new tricks. After twice being called for going to his mouth in games last week, reliever Brendan Donnelly was thrown out of tonight's game before he even threw a warm-up pitch. Washington Manager Frank Robinson protested that Donnelly was gaining some sort of illegal advantage due to his glove. It was not immediately clear if the Nationals thought he had an illegal substance but Angel color commentator Rex Hudler speculated that metal eyelets on the glove can be manipulated in such a way that a pitcher can get a 'cut' on the ball. A cut ball can then be thrown with considerably more movement.

Angel play-by-play announcer Steve Physioc reported later in the inning that pine tar was found in Donnelly's glove. According to Mark Gubicza, the pine tar helps a pitcher grip the ball and throw better breaking pitches. Then again, maybe it was for defensive purposes -- kind of like those velcro gloves and balls that kids learn to catch with.

Angels skipper Mike Scioscia became a bit heated, as you would expect, and walked over to Robinson and let him know what a pansy move it was (at least that was my interpretation) and walked away. Sixty-nine year old Robinson must have felt his integrity was impuned and got testy with Scioscia, stalking him as the Angel manager was walking back to the dugout. The gruff and grayed Robinson looked like a Leisure World resident who was denied his evening pudding cup. As the managers exchanged words the benches emptied and then the bullpens. The highlight was watching Nationals coaches restrain an enraged Jose Guillen who must have been thinking he could finally get some payback on Scioscia for his late-season suspension in 2004. You could almost hear everyone in the Nats dugout yelling "SERENITY NOW, SERENITY NOW!" desperately trying to keep Guillen from grabbing some lumber and going after big Mike. Those with "pre-All-Star Break" on the Guillen-meltdown over/under should be feeling pretty giddy. If Shields plunks him in the eighth he could have an aneurysm right there on the field. Guillen was booed in his return yesterday and he said he could not understand it after he did so much to help get them into the playoffs.

Damn, Guillen just jacked a two-run homer off Shields to tie the game. Should have plunked him.

Anyway, the fans booed him through that at-bat right until he shut them up quick. That is the last guy they should have pitched too. Way to big of an emotional lift for Guillen and Washington on that one. Suddenly Robinson looks genius for getting Donnelly out of the game. We'll see how this one works out. The real shame is that rookie Ervin Santana pitched a helluva game before Shields gave it up. Now Shields has given up back-to-back hits with one out in the eighth. Enough blogging -- if the game is still on then go watch it!

Update: Guillen's HR ignited a comeback that led the Nats to a 6-3 victory. In a post-game interview the Nationals Manager Frank Robinson said Mike Scioscia made what he infered as a "threatening comment". According to Robinson Scioscia told him "I'm gonna have every one of your pitchers undress when they come into the game." Robinson went on to say "I don't thnk that was called for. I don't think that was necessary." True to his word, Scioscia had Washington reliever Gary Majewski checked. When the umpires reported Majewski was clean Scioscia insisted that he tighten the laces on his glove which looked to be about ten inches long. Trainers trimmed the laces and the game continued. Unfortunately. Said Robinson of Scioscia having Majewski checked "that was weak."

Whether or not Jose Guillen tipped off the Nationals to Donnelly's pine tar tactics will never be known but Robinson flatly denied it saying "what we saw on video watching this ballclub, that... he had something in his glove. Jose didn't tell us anything. We didn't ask him anything about...that ballclub." Whatever. Geezer. Bottom line is Robinson got the best of Scioscia and the Angels by calling them on something that likely other clubs have suspected. Perhaps The Colonel was eating the excess pine tar everytime he went to his mouth but somehow getting called for "going to the mouth" last week and pine tar in the glove this week is connected. Donnelly could be facing a fine, suspension or both. But without his sticky friend he might be out of a job in the Halo bullpen.

Angels Showing That Championship Swagger

This is not a perfect team. In fact, the glaring holes in the bullpen and in the starting rotation stick-out like the proverbial sore thumbs. But something has happened over the course of the past two weeks that is beginning to transform the 2005 Los Angeles Angels from a nice team in to a Championship caliber team.

1. 6-6 Road Trip equals Champs? When you face some of the toughest home teams in the Majors and still manage to split you have to be happy. If this were the playoffs and you had to play four in Boston you would probably be thrilled to walk away with two wins and then make the assumption you can win the majority of your own home games. It started off well yesterday as they snapped the Nationals 10-game win streak. With two more against the Nats followed by three with Florida, six with Texas (with a three-pack against the Blue Crew in between) the Angels are picking the perfect time to come together.

2. No blowout losses. During the last road trip the Halos did not lose a game by more than 3 runs. You have to go back to May 22nd to find a game the Angels did lose by more than 3 runs -- and that was just four runs to the Dodgers. In fact, for the season the Angels have won 11 games by a margin of five runs or better and lost just 4. That is a telling statistic in that the Angels have the lumber to punish many teams but enough pitching to keep them in most games. If the bullpen has finished their dubious detour into Diamondback territory, then the Angel hitters should be able to give them more than enough support.

3. Confidence is high. Repeat, confidence IS high. The long-awaited return of likening to Angel bats seems to be upon us. The Angels scored 10 runs against the White Sox, 13 against the Red Sox, 8 against Tim Hudson and the Braves and then posted 12 against the Mets. All on the road. Not to mention the eleven runs they pasted on the Nats last night in Anaheim. The Angels even gutted out a 4-3 victory over Pedro Martinez & the Mets to take the weekend series at Shea Stadium. This team knows it can score runs and now with a little taste of success, look for it to happen early and often from here on out. Dallas McPherson and Steve Finley are coming out of their shells and if those guys produce on a regular basis then becomes a very intimidating offense for opposing pitchers.

4. Pitching is good enough. No one is going to mention Cy Young and the Angels unless K-Rod catches fire the last half. But the starters are serviceable and with the exception of Kelvim Escobar seem somewhat durable. Ervin Santana returns to the mound tonight and if he can build on the success he had in his last outing, the Angels might have just filled a rotation spot for the next five years or so. The bullpen remains weary with Scot Shields and Brendan Donnelly (who gave up a walk-off 3 run dinger on Saturday to Cliff Floyd) still not back to where they were a year or two ago. But with the offense raking, they may have more runs to work with.

5. This is a two-team division. Neither the Mariners or A's are going to do anything to improve their clubs and right now, those are two pathetic teams. The Rangers are the only competition and right after I predicted their inevitable collapse in June, they went on to lose eight of their first 12 games in June. It's going to get worse for Texas as the Angels will look to step on their neck and enter the All-Star Break with a 7 game lead. If that happens look for an even uglier July as the Rangers play the Red Sox, Yankees, Orioles and Toronto. The Angels also have games with the Yanks but the difference is that the Angels are not the Yankees' bitch unlike another team I could mention.

A lot could go wrong and I may regret putting these thoughts down -- but if I am right (and I am) then look for the Angels to start putting some distance between themselves and the Rangers. I will also go out on a limb and predict that the Angels will be the second team to clinch their division (after St. Louis who should clinch in early August).

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Colon Shaky but Bullpen Holds and Offense Surges to Down Sox 13 - 6

The Angels got some sweet payback on Saturday in Boston as they victimized the Boston bullpen much as theirs had been the previous few nights. Los Angeles scored 12 runs in the final four innings to rout he Red Sox 13-7. In a strange reversal of the Angels recent pitching trends, starting pitcher Bartolo Colon was touched-up early by Red Sox hitters for five runs on ten hits despite an excellent strikeout to walk ratio of 11:1. Colon allowed nine men to bat in the second inning and was fortunate to escape with limited damage as the Sox posted three runs to take the lead. Colon gave up two more runs (1 in the third and 1 in the fifth) before he was pulled after six somewhat shaky innings. But Angel batters came alive in the top of the seventh to stake Colon to a 6-5 lead before the Halo bullpen's mojo began to turn. The not-so-dynamic duo of The Colonel & Scot Shields held the potent Boston offense to one run over two innings and the on-again/off-again Halo hitters continued their offensive onslaught and roughed-up the Red Sox bullpen for 11 hits and 11 runs. Joel Peralta finished the Sox off in the 9th inning, retiring the side in order. In three appearances this season Peralta has pitched 4.2 inning and given up just a single hit and no earned runs. In addition he has 7 K's and only 1 walk.

Many expected Peralta to be sent down when Frankie Rodriguez returned from the DL but instead the Angels sent Chris Bootcheck back to the minors. The logic is right as Peralta is more suited for the middle relief or set-up role while Bootcheck is a starter of the future for the Halos and can only get work as a starter in Triple A Salt Lake.

Garrett Anderson led Angel hitters as he pounded out 4 hits in 6 at-bats including . In addition Anderson collected 4 RBI's which vaulted him into to the top of the Angels all-time RBI leaders with 990 as he passed Tim Salmon. Within the next few weeks Anderson should become the first Angel player in history to reach 1000 RBI's with the team.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Bullpen in Crisis -- Squiggy on the Scene

It's official, the Angels bullpen has been designated a National Disaster Area. The suddenly ominous duo of Brendan Donnelly & Scot Shields managed to spoil a just-off-the-DL quality start (has he had any other kind?) by Kelvim Escobar (6 IP 3 H 1 R 2BB 8 K) who left the game with a 4-1 lead at Fenway Park. The Colonel started the Red Sox rally by serving up a double to Kevin Millar and then walking Bill Mueller before giving up a towering double to Mark Bellhorn that plated Millar and moved Mueller to third. Johnny Damon grounded out to first scoring Mueller from third and advancing Bellhorn. That apparently was enough for Scioscia who decided to run Scot Shields out despite the fact that he has given up 4 runs in his last 2.2 innings pitched. Shields continued to pitch like he has an injury of some sort as he gave up a sac fly that tied the game at 4 but then induced Manny Ramirez to ground out back to the mound. In the eighth it was Shields again and more questionable managing by Scioscia. After giving up a single to Trot Nixon Shields struck out Jason Varitek but the pitch in the dirt allowed Nixon to steal second. In order to put the double-play in order Scioscia walked Bill Mueller intentionally to get to Mark Bellhorn. Now this would have been a fine move IF Shields could be counted on to force Bellhorn to hit a ground ball. But Shields could not be counted on to even get the ball put in play as he walked Bellhorn and then had to face Johnny Damon with the bases juiced. Damon naturally doubled, clearing the bases and dooming the Angels. The Halos did load the bases in the ninth but Steve Finley. who could have had a defining moment for himself as an Angel, instead struck out to end the game. Blech.

In the Yahoo! game wrap-up wayyyy down at the bottom under "notes" is this gem:
Among the celebrities in the crowd were David Lander, who played Squiggy in the sitcom ``Laverne and Shirley,'' and Susan St. James of ``Kate and Allie.'' St. James and her husband, NBC sports executive Dick Ebersol, were in town to attend the naming of a ballfield after their son, Teddy, who died in a plane crash."
I guess when Ben Affleck & Matt Damon are not in town Boston is pretty hard-up for 'celebrities'. This sounds more like a casting call for a really bad season of "The Surreal Life". Guess who I saw buying a hot dog at Fenway.....David Lander! Yes, that David Lander!

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Texas Loses in Extras at Detroit

My prediction that Texas would unravel this month is starting to come to fruition. The Rangers are 0-2 in June after Texas closer Francisco Cordero blew his third save of the season by allowing two runs in the ninth to the Tigers. Cordero boosted his ERA to 3.97 in the process.

Texas manager Buck Showalter allowed starter Chris Young to go 7 1/3 but opted to bring in Cordero in the eighth. A testament to the Rangers lack of bullpen depth. Cordero recorded the final two outs in the eight before getting touched-up in the ninth.

That elite Ranger pen sealed their fate in the 10th when Nick Regillo (ERA 4.76) managed to get just one out before surrendering the game losing single to Craig Monroe.

Finger Lickin' Pitchin' and other Chicago notes

For the second game in a row, reliever Brendan Donnelly was cited by umpires for "going to his mouth" while standing on the pitching mound. In each case the batter was awarded a "ball". Donnelly looked baffled on each occasion and Manager Mike Scioscia defended him to the umpire on Tuesday as umpires cited him twice. But on Wednesday, as Donnelly stared plaintively at his manager after getting caught tasting his digits, Scioscia mimed to Donnelly that he was licking his fingers and gave him a look that seemed to say "keep your fingers out of your mouth you friggin' moron." The orally fixated Donnelly went on to give-up a run for the second game in a row but this time the Angels were sporting a three run lead leaving Donnelly off-the-hook. For his "finger lickin' good" pitching Donnelly shall heretofore be known as 'The Colonel'.

The Colonel thought that the infractions were a result of complaints from Chicago Manager Ozzie Guillen with the strategy being to get inside the Colonel's head. If so, bravo Guillen because it seemed to work quite nicely. Darin Erstad and pitching coach Bud Black both had to visit with the Colonel to get him calmed down enough to pitch. Black even hurled a dirt clod from the pitchers mound towards Chicago's dugout in a silent protest to what the Colonel described as a "tired" tactic.
Troy who? Dallas McPherson has started to fill-out those huge shoes left behind by Troy Glaus. McPherson belted a home-run and a double while collecting three RBI yesterday as he extended his hitting streak to eight games. When asked if he was in an offensive groove, the ever-humble D-Mac responded "I don't know if I'm even at the point of seeing the ball well. We'll see how it goes." Over the last week and a half it goes well Big D, very well.

Are there any worse announcers on the planet than the White Sox duo of Ken "Hawk" Harrelson and Darrin Jackson? As an Arizona resident I subscribe to the Major League Baseball package on DirecTV and am forced to watch the Fox Sports feed for the home team. So this week it was the Chi Sox which means every time an Angel strikes out I am subjected to the horrible "HE GONE" from Harrelson. For those of you who have not heard these characters in action and consider Rex Hudler to be a homer, you need to be educated. These guys cheer openly and seemingly with emotion for the Sox players. Apparently they do not want to meet the same fate at their counterpart for the Cubs who got axed for criticizing the players too much. I know that team ownership picks the announcers and there is a definite home bias but c'mon. After a loud cheer for a Sox home run the announcer was barely audible when McPherson blasted one to center. I wonder what they sound like when the Sox are 20 games back as they likely will be in September?

Thanks for the Heart Palpitations

K-Rod returned last night and damn near gave me heart failure. Here is his line from the ninth inning:

1.0 IP 1 H 1 R 3 BB 3 K

I think it is safe to say that Frankie did not quite have his control back as he walked the bases loaded and gave up a hit. Another example of why closers should not be used in non-closing situations. I'm sure Scioscia wanted to give the kid a little work as Frankie charged in from the bullpen in the ninth with a four-run lead. He started fine, striking out A.J. Pierzynski but Jermaine Dye (who homered in the 9th to beat the Angels yesterday) was down 0-2 before doubling off the centerfield wall. Timo Perez then struck out and it looked like all was right with the world. Then K-Rod forgot how to strow strikes and walked the next three batters including Frank Thomas whose base-on ball forced in a run. Juan Uribe stood at the plate representing the winning run and it looked like he was going to have a walk-off Grand Slam as he hit a towering fly ball to left that just drifted foul. But Uribe struck out on the next pitch the Angels shaky victory was in the books. By the end of the night the Angels found themselves just a few percentage points behind Texas for second place.

Paul Byrd looked very hittable on Wednesday, giving up five runs on six hits. The silver lining for Byrd was that he did not walk a batter but did manage to strike out six.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Harold Reynolds is a Whore

Splashy headline for a Wednesday but it sums up my feelings quite well. Before the season Reynolds was practically gushing about the Angels and their eventual crowning as AL West champs and the great chance they had to return to the World Series. Yesterday on ESPN Radio he has completely flip-flopped and now contends that Texas is the greatest thing since sliced bread and will undoubtedly win the West. Ugh. While I am happy to accept that the Angels hitting has been pathetic and a couple of key injuries have severely limited them over the past week, I am not ready to write them off just yet Howie.

The Rangers are red-hot thanks to some timely pitching and absolutely scorching bats. But they also have had an extremely favorable schedule the past two weeks. The Rangers have won nine in a row at home against the Astros, Royals, White Sox and Tigers. Not exactly the Yankees, Red Sox and Angels. A nice recovery after starting May by losing two of three to both Cleveland and Detroit. Good news for Texas fans is that the party continues with two more against Detroit and then three against KC. But the worm turns a bit after that with road sets at Philly and Florida before returning home to face Atlanta and Washington. But June really gets interesting the last two weeks when Texas and the Angels meet seven times in eleven days. The Halos will likely be at full strength with Guerrero and the division could look a whole lot clearer in about 30 days.

Now don't get me wrong, Texas is a fine ball club with some extremely talented hitters. Chris Young could be a great pitcher one day but right now he is just a really tall guy with some good stuff. Hitters have and will continue to figure him out.

In the interest of being fair, the Angels had a pretty easy schedule in May too and did not take advantage of it (save a sweep of the Royals at home). The Halos lost two of three to Detroit and Cleveland But did win two of three from the Dodgers and swept the Mariners. But a closer look at what went wrong in May -- namely eleven losses -- shows that five of those came by a single run. Clearly a deficiency in the Angels hitting that, had it been corrected could have given them 23 wins instead of 17. A 17-11 record is nothing to sneeze at when you play as poorly as this team did the past month.

Most other prognosticators are not making the mistake Reynolds is. He did not foresee the Rangers rise last season and he is blind to their inevitable collapse in 2005 for the following reasons:

1. Buck Showalter Meltdown Time-- Bucky D's tenure with both the Yankees and Diamondbacks were unabashed successes. Both teams came from nowhere to build great teams that would go on to win World Championships......Without Showalter. Why? Because players, media, coaches, bat boys and just about anyone who crosses the path of Buck Showalter comes to despise him. Both times Showalter lasted into his third season before his mini-empires caved in on him. His teams quit on him and he was axed. Look for the Rangers to reach this mark around mid-August in what could be a spectacular spin out.

2. Pitching - Ryan Drese, Chan Ho Park and Pedro Astacio still make up 3/5 of the rotation and those guys all have ERA's around 5. Kenny Rogers is nowhere near as good as his 1.65 ERA might suggest. He could well win 18 games as he did last season but I doubt it. Look for the gambler to come back to Earth when his ERA starts it's eventual climb up to Rogers' career number of 4.20. Last season he had a 4.76 ERA but somehow won 18. I suspect this year he will start to unravel in late June and he finishes the year with 15 wins. Young's numbers will also creep up but not to the extent Rogers' will. Look for Young to finish the year with an ERA around 4.00 and 15 wins. Park's ERA has already jumped from 3.86 in April to 5.40 in May and yet he did not lose a game in May (2-0) thanks to the hot hitting of his teammates. Park will completely devolve over the next few months and he will be lucky to scrap together 12 wins. Another added bonus is that Texas has zero depth in their starters. If one goes down to injury (and they will) they have to start someone like R.A. Dickey.

3. The Angels have sucked big time and still remain just one game behind Texas. The Angels will have their own 9 game win streaks but the difference is that when things go sour for Texas they could lose five or six in a row. The Angels have enough pitching to make sure they can survive just about any rough patch and remain competitive. The Angels best days are ahead while Texas may be peaking right about now.

K-Rod Back Tonight.....Thank God

And not a damn minute too soon it would seem as the Angels bullpen has coughed up two losses in as many nights. Just when the hitting starts to click a little bit the bullpen craps out. To make room for Rodriguez Chris Bootcheck was sent back to Salt Lake. Bootcheck pitched four innings in relief on May 28th, giving up just two hits and no runs to earn his first big league save.

While the bullpen gave away the game for the second night in a row do not overlook what was a horrendous fielding error by Chone Figgins (though generously scored a double by the White Sox scorer) that put the bullpen in the position to lose in the first place. In the fourth inning Carl Everett hit a towering fly ball to right into the swirling Chicago wind. Figgins drifted around like a drunk before finally missing the ball, allowing it to bounce over the fence for a ground-rule double. Everett eventually scored on a sac fly and that proved to be a decisive run. Figgins is a defensive disaster anywhere except centerfield or middle infield but for some reason the Angels continue to think he is a 'jack-of-all-trades'. I fully expect to see him pitch and catch before the season's out just so the Angels can say he did it. Jeff DeVanon is a much better right fielder and would have caught the Everett fly.

But last night's bigger goat was one Brendan Donnelly who pitched a hitless eighth (mowing down the #3, 4 & 5 hitters) before surrendering a walk-off homerun in the bottom of the ninth to the first batter he faced - Jermaine Dye. Perhaps Richard is right and Donnelly is only a one-inning pitcher now. Why in a tie-game Scioscia does not turn it over to one of the youngsters who could, if necessary, go three or four innings is beyond me. Maybe he figured if Donnelly could have nursed his way through the ninth the Angels could have pushed a run across in the 10th and then Shields could have come in to give up two runs to lose the game. The Angels were deep into Chicago's bullpen with Ozzie Guillen having already used up three pitchers. The Angels only used Donnelly and it looked like Scioscia had the Sox right where he wanted them.

Of course, had Francisco Rodriguez been available then it would have been Shields in the ninth with Frankie ready to shut it down in the bottom half of the inning (if necessary). The problem with losing a guy like K-Rod is that everyone in the bullpen is out of place. Donnelly should be pitching in the sixth or seventh inning with Shields in the 8th and Frankie in the 9th. Instead you have Shields get shelled in the 9th on Tuesday and Donnelly being overextended in the 9th on Wednesday. Hopefully with K-Rod back in the fold tonight everyone can get their mojo back and pitch where they are comfortable.

Preview: Two reclamation projects clash in Chi-Town as Jose Contreras and the White Sox will try and sweep the Halos and Paul Byrd out of town. Contreras is coming off a 7 inning, 3 hit, 3 run loss to the Angels in Anaheim on May 26th. In Byrd's last outing he gave up 8 hits to the Royals while surrendering 3 runs and getting a no-decision. Byrd has six consecutive starts where he has not given up more than 3 runs and gone a minimum of 6 innings. Not exactly "quality" starts but generally good enough to win if the bats are working and the bullpen is functional. The Halos are 0 for 2 on those counts so far against the Chi Sox. The Angels could easily have won either of the past two games and will need someone to pick them up on their shoulders and carry them throught this mini-rough patch. That man would normally be Vlad Guerrero but with the big guy still on the DL the job falls to Garrett Anderson. Over his past four games GA is hitting at a .500 clip going 8 for 16 with 2 HR & 2 doubles. While he seems to be single-handedly keeping the Angels in games he is not getting them over the proverbial hump. The Halos need their table setters, Erstad & Figgins, to be in position to score when Anderson is up. Finley needs to quit being a blackhole in the #3 spot or Scioscia is going to have to bump him down to the #6 slot. Finley had three home-runs in May. THREE! His average improved to .291 but he is still not anywhere near where ne needs to be.

Guerrero Update: From KFFL"The Los Angeles Daily News reports Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim OF Vladimir Guerrero (shoulder) has resumed playing catch but will not likely pick up a bat until June 6 at the earliest." The Rotowire quote below KFFL also says Guerrero could be swinging a bat by next Monday and quotes Scioscia "if the inflammation stays out and the strength continues to where it needs to be, he should keep that progression, it could come quickly."

Look for Guerrero to be hitting BP within seven days but do not expect to see him activated until the Angels return home on the 6/13 to host the Nationals. With the Halos playing in NL parks from 6/6 to 6/12 it is unlikely Scioscia would want to risk further injury by forcing Guerrero to play right rather than DH for a few games.

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