Monday, June 25, 2012

Angels Conquer the NL, Ready For Next Challenge (38/81)

Over the past 5 seasons the Angels have the best record in major league baseball in interleague play and put their stamp on their National League dominance with a 5-3 win over the first-place Los Angeles Dodgers Sunday afternoon.

Peter Bourjos hit his second home run of the year after a blown foul ball call by the first base umpire, Albert Pujols knocked in Mike Trout from second base, and Howie Kendrick and Mark Trumbo each broke 0-3 games with RBI singles in the 7th inning that gave the Angels the win. Garrett Richards tossed his worst game of the season and still picked up a quality start.

The Angels are having a blast right now, and why shouldn't they? With a 14-7 record in June and a 34-19 record since April 28 (rookie Mike Trout's 2012 season debut), the Angels have the best record in baseball in that time behind only one team: the Yankees (let's not forget the Angels won their last series versus the Yankees as well). Nobody can knock the Angels anymore because of their terrible start. As a matter of fact, if the season started on April 28, the Angels would be first place in the AL West, 4 games over the Texas Rangers (30-23 during the same period).

I will forever be confused and amazed with Mike Scioscia's coaching decisions. At the beginning of the season, I would yell at the TV or, while attending games, yell at the dugout for Scioscia's questionable decisions. I'm not sure if it was something Angel's GM Jerry Dipoto said, or the fact that Scioscia now has a lot more weapons at his disposal since the arrivals of Trout and reliever, Ernesto Frieri, but the Angels rotund skipper seems to make one right move after another.

Scioscia's bullpen-by-committee has been surprisingly successful and has turned around what was once the mockery of the American League to solid group of dependable relievers. Now knowing they're his team's biggest strength, Scioscia lets pitchers go the distance more often rather than pulling them early. He has gone back to what works with the Angel's small ball approach from guys like Erick Aybar, Maicer Izturis and Peter Bourjos, while at the same time allowing his power hitters like Pujols and Trumbo swing for the fences, and it works magically with Trout being able to do it all.

As we approach the middle of the year, we start to thing that this may very well be the Angels season to pull it off, or they may fizzle into oblivion in the second half. Only time will tell. However, no one can argue that this season has not been exciting.

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