By Pete Zarustica/Garden Grove Journal
Hope springs eternal, especially in, well, the spring. Can two special events this week herald a new era for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim?
After moshing around in last place in the American League West for April, the Halos appeared to be hitting their stride. Two big events helped underline that: Jered Weaver’s no-hitter against the Twins on May 2, and Albert Pujols’ first home run of the season in Sunday’s 4-3 win over the Blue Jays
More important than both of those was that the Angels finally were winning. Monday’s 8-3 win over the Twins (also pitched by Weaver) meant the Halos had won six of eight games and moved within striking distance of third place in the AL West.
On Tuesday the Angels appeared to regress, though, collecting only four hits in a 5-0 loss to the Twins. That left them with a 13-18 record, seven and a half games out of first in the division.
The series with the Twins concluded in Minnesota Wednesday night (results too late for our deadline). The Halos have today (Thursday) off and begin a three-game series in Texas against the first-place Rangers on Friday.
That series will run through Sunday, then the Angels are home on Monday to host the Oakland Athletics for two. On Wednesday (May 16) the Angels open a two-game set in Anaheim against the White Sox.
Weaver’s no-hit bid was a welcome bright-spot in a less-than-perfect early season, but Pujols’ dinger was the most anticipated hit since the first “Harry Potter” movie opened in theaters.
His blast was in his 28th game of the season and his 111th at-bat with the Angels. Considering that they signed him to a 10-year, $240 million contract as free agent billed as “the greatest hitter in baseball,” his slow start was grinding on everyone.
“I don’t think anything’s been lifted from my shoulders,” said Pujols. “I don’t care about what you guys write or what you think. I know what I’m capable of doing and I come out here every day and try to get myself ready for the game and give 110 percent to this team and this organization. And if I do that, there’s nothing to be sorry about.”
Still, the highest-paid player in the major leagues was hitting .197 with just 9 RBIs, fourth-best on the team.
As for Weaver, his win Monday combined with his no-hitter on May 2 improved his record to 5-0 with a 1.60 ERA. He is holding opposing batters to a .174 batting average.
He had no illusions about his chances of throwing two no-hitters in a row, as was done in 1938 by Johnny Vander Meer.
“To have it happen once is pretty special,” he said. “But to do it twice in a row, I just don’t see it ever happening again.”