Purgatory Online

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Tonight, the Angels pass from the meat-grinder of the AL West to the supposedly slackier teams in the Central, beginning with the Detroit Tigers. The Tigers, of course, have defied expectations so far by going 11-8. Nevertheless, getting out of the first round of intradivision play with a winning record is something of a coup for the Angels; since 2001, they're 83-110 against the West and 147-111 against the East and Central combined.

John Lackey will take the mound tonight to try to extend the Angels' four-game winning streak; Lackey's had a couple of decent starts in a row, and, though he's 0-3, is looking like he might be getting things together. His three starts look like this:

4/10 - 3.2 IP, 7 ER, 9 H, 2 HR, 2 BB, 1 K
4/15 - 5.1 IP, 4 ER, 6 H, 0 HR, 0 BB, 0 K
4/21 - 6.2 IP, 3 ER, 7 H, 0 HR, 2 BB, 2 K

The only troubling thing seems to be that his strikeouts aren't going up; for Lackey, that could be a problem. Interestingly, almost no one in the Tigers' lineup has any significant experience with Lackey, a situation that normally favors the pitcher. In his last two starts, Lackey was successful in going after hitters; hopefully he'll work the hitters' unfamiliarity with him to his advantage.

Of course, the same is true for the Angels and the Tigers' starter, Nate Cornejo. David Eckstein has the most career at-bats against Cornejo of any Angel, with 11. Cornejo's been swatted around a bit in his last two starts, but the Tigers' offense is much improved and can probably bail him out if the Angels don't hit him hard.

The word on Garret Anderson seems to be that his back is still bothering him, and he's expected to sit out for at least another couple of games. Vladimir Guerrero was given Sunday off, as he's still having obvious knee problesms, but I'd guess he'll probably be back in tonight. I'm curious to see whether Scioscia will take advantage of Anderson's sabbatical by trying out Chone Figgins in the leadoff spot; with his speed and an on-base percentage of .429, he'd seem to be a natural there.