Angels Weekend: Of Brooms, a Youth Uprising & the AL Central

It was quite the busy weekend at my house. In addition to the usual Pilates class and errands, we made pickled red onions, scoured the house, rearranged the furniture upstairs and did a lot of sweeping…oh, yeah, wait. That last part? That wasn’t Seth and I. That was the Angels!! ;)

Sorry for the brief bragging indulgence but, did you see us play last season? I think we can all agree, I’m due. So, suffice to say, it was a good weekend. Tyler Chatwood? I was a little apprehensive about his second major league start, especially when he’s definitely pitching to contact and the While Sox can hit. But, wow, can the kid pitch! And what confidence and poise on the mound. If he starts getting hit, he regroups, recovers and moves on. Can we keep him Sosh? Pleeeeeease. Can we? Can we?!

Another weekend revelation? Hel-lo Hank Conger. After Spring Training, Conger stayed on the 25-man roster primarily because of the large number of Angels on the DL. Everyone has been referring to him as the Angels third catcher, the assumption being that when a few of the regular players come off the DL, Hank will go back to the Bees, leaving Jeff Mathis and Bobby Wilson to duke it out for the primary catcher’s spot. Hank, however, has seized this brief opportunity with both hands in a death grip and sprinted with it. Seriously, each appearance has been better than the last. The pitchers seem to love him. He calls a good game. He catches guys stealing. He caught Juan Pierre stealing. That’s not easy. And he’s hitting and seems a little stronger with each plate appearance. I think it’s time to stop calling the kid the third catcher. I think it’s time to just call the kid the catcher. Let Mathis and Wilson duke it out over who gets to stay up when everyone comes back off the DL…except this is Mike Scioscia’s Angels, so all three may very well wind up staying up. I’m rolling my eyes right now, but it’s with affection.

Other high points? Dan Haren is now 4 and 0. Like Jered Weaver, he didn’t have his best start and now has an E.R.A. over 1 but, also like Weaver, not his best start is still pretty darned good and was good enough for the W. Maicer Izturis had a very hot bat. Mark Trumbo is a beast at the plate and is getting darned good at pulling off a tag out of nowhere at first, which is good because the rain wet ball wasn’t exactly helping with those throws to first. I. Love. Our. Outfield. Have I mentioned that before? Vernon Wells is continuing to gain momentum at the plate and in left field. The bullpen did really well. Jordan Walden almost blew his first save in spectacular fashion but this kid has a closer’s ice water in his veins. He loaded up the bases, then settled down and got the outs he needed without flinching. I wish I could say the same. I flinched, twitched, paced around the room, swore a blue streak and generally was not a pretty sight until he calmed down and got that last out. But as long as he doesn’t make a habit of getting himself into a jam in the first place, it’s nice to know that Walden can get himself out of a jam.

The Angels had a great weekend and Texas got beaten up by the Yankees so now we’re tied for first. Tied. For. First! Yes, it’s April 17th. I realize that standings at this point mean absolutely nothing. First place and a couple of bucks still won’t buy you a grande latte at Starbucks – those suckers cost $3.50. But after every major sports publication picked the Angels to finish in third place, well out of second, being tied for first with the red hot Texas Rangers feels pretty darned sweet right now. *toasts the Angels with a glass of Malbec* Oooookaaaay. I was going to drink that anyway. It went with dinner, gorgeously in fact. But it tastes just that much better after being raised in honor of the Angels.

Starting Monday, the Angels face the aforementioned red hot Texas Rangers. The red hot AL Champion Texas Rangers. I’m a little nervous. I’m a little excited. Well see how it goes. They’re tough. Really tough. But here’s the thing. We beat them a few times last year when the Angels were far, far from their best and the Rangers were still red hot. So…can we beat them? Yes. It sure won’t be easy, but I believe we can. Will we beat them? I sure hope so, but it’s far from a given, and we’re heading into the bottom of our starting rotation, though Ervin Santana has certainly had some success against Texas. You have to play the games to find these things out, fortunately, because I already know where we stand on paper. I don’t think this series is truly make it or break it time for the Angels. Again, its only April. But this series is an important test even so. Go Halos!!

10 Comments

I’m looking forward to the first TEX/LAA matchup. This is the first time I’ve been excited about an AL West matchup since… well, let’s just say it’s been a long time. I think the Halos have the edge what with Joshy out. I’m sure you’re hopin’ that sticks…
–Jeff
http://redstatebluestate.mlblogs.com/

Hey there. You’re welcome. Love, the Yanks (if at all possible).
-Alissa
http://lookatthatpitch.mlblogs.com/

The beauty of baseball is that when one person (or group of people) has a heartbreaking, disappointing weekend, there is another group of people who had a great weekend, worth of the celebration. :)

Break out the wine and enjoy! I’ll just be over here, waiting for my turn.

-K

Watching the Dandelions Grow

The beauty of baseball is that when one person (or group of people) has a heartbreaking, disappointing weekend, there is another group of people who had a great weekend, worth of the celebration. :)

Break out the wine and enjoy! I’ll just be over here, waiting for my turn.

-K

Watching the Dandelions Grow

I’m jealous. I was feeling pretty good about a .500 team. When is it my turn? :)P Oh well, at least I picked up Vernon Wells when someone in my fantasy league dropped him already. I certainly have faith in that OF!

~Rob
http://robsanto.mlblogs.com/

Talk about spring cleaning! This Conger guy looks to have some staying power, too. Having a catcher that pitchers are comfortable with might just be the most overlooked asset a team needs.
http://pittpeas.mlblogs.com

Jeff – So pleased the lowly AL West is finally exciting you – yes, I was laughing pretty hard when I typed that. I hope we have the edge in this one, but it’s not like the Rangers haven’t had to do without Hamilton before. Then again, Santana had a good record against them last season. We will have to see. It should be fun – two of the best Angels games I watched last season were against Texas.
Alissa – LOL, yes, many thanks to the Yankees for beating Texas. I was rooting for your guys last night as I tend to do when they’re playing AL West teams. It’s not traitorous if it ultimately serves your own team, right?
Keleigh – Thanks! It’s a long season. You will have plenty of wine moments, I am sure.
Rob – Thank you for dropping by my blog! Eh, no one should be jealous of anything in mid April. It’s like acing or failing the first quiz in class – you still have several papers, midterms and finals to get through. I think your friends’ loss will be your gain before too much longer. Wells is coming around.
— Kristen

Good series! Well played (by you guys, at least) and entertaining. Loved watching all 3 of your starters pitch – especially Chatbark-WOOD! Chatwood. Sorry. (=P) Looking forward to facing you guys when the Sox can actually execute lol Until then, good luck!
– Anders (The Hitless Wonders)

Matt – Thanks. :) Yeah, I think there are a lot of easily overlooked defensive qualities a good catcher brings to the game and making the pitchers comfortable is definitely one of them.
Anders – Very classy of you to drop by my blog after the series. I think it was a good series and not as one-sided as you think. The Sox almost came back a few times. How about Chat-leaf-no-pitch-outside-the-zone? ;) Anyway, there’s plenty more baseball to be played this season and you will like other series better I am sure. If I don’t nab tickets when Oakland is in town next week, the next game I’m going to is the Tuesday game vs. the White Sox. Should be a good match-up.
— Kristen

You’re welcome! I appreciate good baseball, even if the Sox lose. The Angels played some good ball. I’ll be a frequent commenter on your blog from now on =) And yeah, that Chatsteel kid is something special. And as Matt reiterated from one of my earlier comments, Conger looks good, too, both offensively and defensively. Make sure to take some pics at the Sox game for me! =D
– Anders (The Hitless Wonders)

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