The Los Angeles Angels’ emphasis during spring training was intensity. Pitchers and position players alike saw more innings of work this year than they were used to. However, the plan seemed to be working. The pitches had movement and the bats were alive and well, and the team looked focused heading in to opening day. Of course, even the best plans do not always work. The Los Angeles Angels’ first week of the 2014 MLB season was an all too familiar one for both players and fans.
After six games, the Halos have posted a disappointing 2-4 record. LA’s season started by getting swept at home by the Seattle Mariners. Nothing went right for the Angels in their first homestand. The starting pitchers could not go deep into games and the bullpen could not have held a lead even if the offense had managed to get one.
The big bats for the Angels were quiet during the series too. The offense was held to three or fewer runs in each game, and totaled only seven scores in the entire series. Two of those runs were recorded on a Mike Trout Homerun on opening day, during his first at-bat of the season.
Nothing cures a losing streak like a trip to Houston. The Astros have patrolled the bottom of the majors for several years now. However, in their first year in the AL West, Houston had LA’s number. Ten of the Astros’ 51 wins came against the Angels. A new season brings a clean slate, and the Halos seemed ready to turn the page against their new division foe. They took the first two games of the series in Houston by outscoring their opponent 16-2. The young starters that make up the back of the rotation showed up in spades, pitching 13 innings combined and only allowing two runs. The bullpen finally got their act together too, pitching six scoreless.
The offense came alive on Friday night, knocking three homeruns and beating the Astros by ten. Josh Hamilton continued his success against Houston and helped carry the team to their second win of the season on saturday. However, an unusually bad start by ace Jered Weaver, prevented the Angels from reaching .500, and he fell to 0-2 as the Angels lost 7-4 on Sunday.
Though it is only been one week, the Halos appear to be falling into the same pattern as they have the last two years. They were awful dueing April in 2012, posting an 8-15 record. 2013 was just as bad, and they entered May with a 9-17 mark. If they do not get it together soon, they will create the same hole they never escaped from the last two seasons. Championships may not be won in April, but they sure can be lost.
Worst of the Worst
Kole Calhoun has not started the season in strong fashion. He has one homerun and three RBI, but is batting only .160. In his first week as an Angel, David Freese was not impressive either. He has tallied only two RBI, and is batting .182. Albert Pujols rounds out the list of duds this week, batting .200 and notching only one RBI.
Looking on the Bright Side
Mike Trout leads the club with two homeruns and five RBI. He has started each series with a homerun on his first at bat. Young Pitchers Garrett Richards and Tyler Skaggs shined bright in their first starts of the season. If they can continue to pitch with consistency and execution, they will be exactly what the Angels need to anchor a shaky rotation.
If you Believe in Bad Omens
Don Baylor broke his leg during the ceremonial first pitch on opening day. Vladamir Guererro came back and signed a one day contract with the Angels so he could retire with the team. He threw out the first pitch of the season to Baylor, who awkwardly caught the ball and broke his leg. It is still unclear how long he will be sidelined with the injury, but Mike Scioscia will continue to consult with him until he returns. It is unfortunate that such a freak accident ruined such an iconic first pitch. Baylor and Guerrero are the only two MLB American League MVPs in franchise history.
What is Next for the Halos
The Angels finish their road trip with one game in Houston and two in Seattle before a day off. The Mariner’s home opener is Tuesday, so look for them to give the Angels all they can handle once again. After their off-day, LA goes home to open a three-game series with the New York Mets.
Commentary by Chris Chisam
Guardian Liberty Voice Sports Writer covering the Los Angeles Angels