By Pete Zarustica/Garden Grove Journal
For those who live in the desert, there are always ways to survive, if you know how.
The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim are in a bit of a hitting Sahara, scoring only a few runs here and there. But they closed in on the AL West-leading Texas Rangers with a cool, refreshing stream of outstanding pitching and a bit of timely hitting.
Through the first week of August, the Halos have batted an anemic .242, with five of their starters hitting below .200. But that’s been more than balanced by a few hot bats (Torii Hunter’s .522 hitting and Mark Trumbo’s three homers and eight RBIs) and a string of gleaming work on the mound.
Going into Tuesday’s game with the New York Yankees in the Bronx, the Angel pitchers had an excellent 3.11 ERA for the month. The earned run averages of Jered Weaver (0.00), Dan Haren (1.13), Ervin Santana (1.13) and Jordan Walden (0.00) are good enough to keep manager Mike Scioscia off the Maalox.
Santana (pictured below) followed last week’s no-hitter with another top start, this one a four-hit effort Sunday as the Angels beat the Mariners 2-1.
“There’s no doubt you come back from a no-hitter with some confidence,” said Scioscia. “Ervin has continued his roll. It’s good because we’re going to need him down the stretch.”
Santana said “I’m doing the same things I’ve been doing the whole year. I haven’t changed.” The Angels don’t want him to change; he’s given up just two runs in his last four starts.
After winning four of five, at home, the Halos aimed their top pitchers at the Yankees Tuesday night and won the opener 6-4.
The hero of the night was Bobby Abreu, who hit two home runs, including the game-winner, a two-run shot in the top of the ninth.
But the game’s most dramatic moment came in the bottom of the ninth. The Yankees had a runner on with two out and their top slugger Mark Teixera at bat.
Halo reliever Jordan Walden whirled and threw to second base, catching Curtis Granderson trying to steal second. After a brief run-down, Granderson was tagged out and the Angels had the win.
Dan Haren made the start, but it was a little rocky, as he gave up four runs in six innings. But Abreu, who had been in a terrible slump, provided the Halos with three RBIs and the winning hit.
The win kept the Angels within a game and a half of the Texas Rangers in the American League West. It also continued (for a while) the Angels; mastery of the Yankees.
The series continued Wednesday (results too late for our deadline) and concludes today (Thursday). The Halos will be in Toronto Friday through Sunday to play the Blue Jays, then come home Monday to start a four-game series hosting the Rangers.