On May 21st, the Angels Angels of Angels lost their third straight game, 2-1 to the lowly Oakland Athletics, and fell to a dismal 18-25 record—a full eight games back of the division leading Texas Rangers.
At the time, Albert Pujols, the man charged with leading to Angels back to a division title and later to a World Series, was hitting just .212/.256/.318 with only three home runs. Bold predictions of the Angels winning it all seemed laughably ill-conceived.
Since then, the Angels have gone on tear. With their win last night against the Rangers in the first game of their three-game weekend series, LA has now won nine of their last 10 games. The run has put them above .500 at 27-26 for the first time since Opening Day and they now sit just four-and-a-half games back of the Rangers.
20-year-old rookie Mike Trout continues to be a world-beater. His 2-for-4 night last night with a triple and three runs batted in, including the winning RBIs in the bottom-of-the-seventh on a two-run single.
Like his team as a whole, Pujols has been on fire as well. In those same 10 games, he’s hitting .368/.422/.789 with five more home runs. He now has a respectable eight home runs on the season and although he still has a ways to go before having Pujols-like numbers, it’s clear that all the hyperbolic Stoeten-esque proclamations of his downfall may have been a tad overblown.
Even with Jered Weaver on the DL, the Angels still have solid rotational depth with Dan Haren (the team’s real ace), C.J. Wilson and Ervin Santana. Hell, even Jerome Williams has been pitching decently enough this season. The real questions for the Angels going forward revolve around their offense which is top-heavy to say the least.
Trout, is already putting up All-Star calibre numbers (only Josh Hamilton, Adam Jones, Austin Jackson and Alejandro De Aza have been worth more among AL outfielders and all of them have played far more games), Albert Pujols is…well, Albert Pujols and Mark Trumbo has been the best hitter on the team so far, showing much improved patience and a consistently powerful bat, even though he has no real position defensively. After that, things get scary. Kendrys Morales is the only other above-average hitter in the lineup and players like Torii Hunter, Alberto Callaspo, Howie Kendrick, Erick Aybar, and Peter Bourjos are simply not pulling their weight.
The last 10 games have been a nice sign for LA, but until some of those other players really start to pull things together, it’s still going to be very difficult for them to keep up with the vastly more talented Rangers in the AL West.
And the rest:
Johan Santana threw the first no hitter in the 50-plus-year history of the New York Mets last night [Drew Fairservice, Getting Blanked]. During the celebration after the final out, a fan ran on to the field in a Gary Carter jersey and jean-shorts and managed to celebrate with the team for a few seconds before being dragged away by security. He appears in the scrum around the 18-second mark of the video below:
<iframe src=’http://mlb.mlb.com/shared/video/embed/embed.html?content_id=21938903&width=400&height=224&property=mlb’ width=’400′ height=’224′ frameborder=’0′>Your browser does not support iframes.</iframe>
What the Mets were saying about Santana’s no-hitter [David Lennon, Newsday].
Caryn (AKA MetsGrrl) was at the game last night and shares her experience. #BlameBeltran
Jack Moore of FanGraphs looks at the effectiveness of Santana’s changeup last night.
More on the Santana no-hitter, because why not? [Mike Fitzpatrick, AP].
20-year-old defected Cuban outfielder Jorge Soler is officially a free agent [Ken Rosenthal, Twitter]. It’s expected that the Chicago Cubs will be aggressive bidders for the services of the talented young outfielder, but almost every other team appears to be in the talks as well. The Blue Jays also appear to be heavily in the mix. The Yankees, Red Sox, Phillies, Astros and Orioles have also expressed interest [Matt Snyder/Jon Heyman, CBS Sports].
Speaking of Cubans, Phillies reliever Jose Contreras looks likely to head back to the DL after straining his right elbow last night [Jake Kaplan, MLB.com]. The extent of the injury isn’t yet known.
The Panda could be on his way back very soon [Andrew Baggerly, CSN Bay Area].
Neither umpire Laz Diaz or Russell Martin will be suspended or fined for the incidents that took place on Wednesday night [Sweeney Murti, Twitter]. Martin was allegedly punished by Diaz for arguing balls and strikes by not being allowed the throw the ball back to his pitcher. Or something.
David Wright is apparently not open to discussing a contract extension during the season [Ken Rosenthal, Twitter].
Mark Prior is attempting a comeback with the Red Sox and has recently been called up to AAA-Pawtucket [Rob Bradford, Twitter]. He was apparently clocked at 90-92 MPH and showed a good curveball in extended spring training. Prior has not pitched in the Majors since 2006 and was released by the Yankees after 12 innings in the minor leagues last season.
Padres prospect catcher Yasmani Grandal has been called up to the Majors and has taken the place of righthander Jeff Suppan who sucks who was designated for assignment [Corey Brock, MLB.com].
Of all the starting pitchers that may become available in the next two months before the trade deadline, the Yankees apparently prefer Cubs righty Matt Garza over the likes of Zack Greinke, Shaun Marcum and Ryan Dempster [Jon Heyman, CBS Sports]. Heyman speculates that the Yankees aren’t bullish on Greinke (likely the best of those pitchers) because they’re worried about his anxiety issues. I really hope that Greinke one day gets to prove himself in a big market so that we can all shut up about how he’s fragile or whatever. It’s dumb. Get over it Yankees.
10 Steps to enjoying the MLB Draft on Monday night and not looking/sounding like an idiot [ME!, Runs Batted Out].
Bryce Harper is T-800 [Ben Lindbergh, Baseball Prospectus].