Purgatory Online

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

The Angels put up another spring training win yesterday, beating the Mariners 5-3. Thanks to ESPN and ReplayTV, I had a chance to watch the game last night, and came away mostly feeling pretty good.

Kelvim Escobar started and pitched fairly well for two innings. His fastball was between 92 and 94 miles an hour, with good location, and he featured some fairly nasty breaking stuff and a splitter. He wasn't mixing his pitches all that much, but, this early in spring training, I wouldn't necessarily expect him to. He gave up one hit, walked one, and struck out three.

In the field...well, it wasn't exactly Adam Kennedy's day. Two errors for AK, one sloppy catch on a flip toss from Eckstein and one tough chance on a grounder.

As for the lineup, the starting nine went like this: Eckstein, Erstad, Guerrero, Guillen, Glaus, DaVanon, Kennedy, Halter, Jose Molina. So Salmon, Anderson, and Bengie Molina sat out - Anderson with continued biceps tendinitis, Molina because "his entire body hurts," and Salmon, presumably, to give him a day off after a fairly adventurous day of playing left field. The starters stayed in for three spins around the batting order, and my overall impression was that they were really making good contact. Eckstein in particular, who started the game with a surprisingly powerful shot into left that was caught by a sprinting Raul Ibanez, seemed to be in good form. It actually seemed to me that he was a little calmer at the plate than he has been. In any even, he followed up that first-inning drive with a pair of base hits - a single and a double - to finish 2 for 3.

Vladimir Guerrero was also impressive. He demonstrated the basis for his reputation as a bad-ball hitter by golfing a pitch that was just under his knees way over the left-field fence during his third at-bat, and, during his first at-bat, he got a little under a pitch and popped it up into deep right. Guerrero's dinger was immediately followed by a home run by Jose Guillen, giving Angels fans a nice little one-two demonstration of how substantial the offensive upgrade might be this year.

As for the minor-leaguers, who had pretty much taken over the game by the sixth, Dallas McPherson and Nick Gorneault looked good at the plate, and Kevin Gregg, who has an infuriatingly casual delivery, went two scoreless innings, giving up one hit and striking out two. Chris Bootcheck, by contrast, looks exactly the way a pitcher is supposed to look...and threw in the high eighties, giving up two earned runs on six hits in the last two innings of the game. He also struck out three.

On Friday, we'll take our first look at what kind of spring the Angels are having, and what it might mean for the early weeks of the 2004 season. In the meantime, they take on Arizona today, presumably with Ramon Ortiz on the mound.