Friday, April 30, 2004
Posted 2:41 PM by Sean
So now it appears that Escobar might not make his Saturday start after all, and Sele and Gregg appear to be the prominent candidates to spot start. Eckstein's return to the lineup is being targeted for this weekend.
Yesterday, the Angels jumped all over Tigers starter Nate Robertson, who gave up eight earned runs in three and a third innings pitched. Chone Figgins batted out of the leadoff spot again, going two for five with two runs scored, bringing his on-base percentage to .417 on the season, though that covers only 32 at-bats. His speed has really pumped up his slugging percentage as well; his fondness for taking the extra base means that three of his eleven hits are triples. He won't slug .594 all year, but it's nice to see for now.
Darin Erstad also had a good night, going two for six with four runs batted in and just one left on base. His OBP is still a comical .294, but his improvement over the course of the season has been noticable. At the current rate, he's in serious danger of qualifying as productive sometime in the next couple of weeks, and at this point I won't even dispute leaving him in the two-spot until we see where he tops out.
Meanwhile, Vlad Guerrero had his first bona fide superstar-type game, going four for five with a home run, hoisting his average almost 30 points to .322. Guerrero and Glaus are probably the scariest back-to-back in baseball right now; Glaus ranks third in the league for home runs, and Guerrero sixth.
Jarrod Washburn also deserves credit for pitching properly with a big lead. Wash threw 113 pitches in eight innings, which is reasonable, and went to only one three-ball count the entire game. He threw a total of ten pitches in the first two innings, including a three-pitch second. It was especially nice to see Washburn be effective after Colon's poor showing of the night before.
Tonight, we'll see what the offense comes up with against Carlos Silva, Minnesota's sinkerballing fourth starter, who's compiled a 3-0 record and a 4.50 ERA in four starts (against Detroit twice, Cleveland, and Kansas City). Silva's most recent start, against the Royals, was pretty impressive: 7 innings pitched, one earned run, no home runs, no walks, two strikeouts. Ordinarily, starting a sinkerballer in a dome is asking for trouble - those ground balls scoot through the infield on artificial turf - but, as noted earlier, the Twins' new turf hasn't fully compacted yet, and is a little spongier than normal. One of the keys for the Angels will be to stay out of double plays tonight: like any sinkerballer, Silva's grounder-to-flyball ratio is ludicrously high - 2.12 for his career. Since Scioscia likes to start the runner anyway, we may see a great deal of action on the basepaths tonight; look for steals or hit-and-run attempts on any count that's 1-1 or better.
As for Ramon Ortiz....aw, who knows? Minnesota's offense is right about in the middle of the league when it comes to home runs, so chances are he'll give up one or two. This game may come down to whether Ortiz can limit the damage that comes from them by keeping folks off the bases. If he can hold the Twins to a handful of runs, the bullpen is in good shape - Frankie Rodriguez didn't pitch at all against Detroit, and everyone except Shields got last night off. The Twins have been impressive at home this year (they're 9-3), but this should be a pretty well-fought series.