Purgatory Online

Friday, September 17, 2004

Neither the Angels nor the A's looked like the particularly wanted to win a division title this week. While the Angels split their series with the Mariners in Seattle, the A's split theirs with Texas at home. So the Oakland lead remains at two, with sixteen to play. The Angels should have been able to pick up at least one game during the last four, but they didn't, and it's hard to say they're done when the lead could be chopped in half on any given night.

Certainly the most perplexing, frustrating, and problematic aspect of the Seattle series was the sudden lack of offense against pitchers who were, shall we say, underperforming. Over the last three games of the series, the Angels scored four earned runs on fifteen hits. The gruesome numbers from those games:

Eckstein - 3 for 12 - .250
Erstad - 2 for 11 - .182
Guerrero - 1 for 9 - .111
Anderson - 2 for 12 - .167
Glaus - 1 for 10 - .100
Guillen - 1 for 11 - .091
Figgins - 1 for 10 - .100
Molina (playing in Tuesday and Wednesday's games only) - 1 for 7 - .143

So, out of eight regular players, we've got one hitting .250, six on the Interstate, and one playing bingo. Only Adam Kennedy has had a stick since Tuesday, going 3 for 7.

Obviously, that has to change. And it will, since this team has some offensive talent. The problem is, it has to change right now.

There's a little good news headed into the Texas series, however. First, the pitching matchups look like this:

Friday - Chan Ho Park (3-5, 5.72) at Bartolo Colon (15-11, 5.12). Park is terrible, and we've seen Good Bartolo a couple of times in a row - plus Colon's owned the Rangers this year, going 4-0 with a 1.67 ERA against them.

Saturday - Juan Dominguez (1-2, 3.91) at Kelvim Escobar (10-10, 3.86). This matchup actually scares me. Dominguez isn't the answer to the gaping holes in the Texas rotation this year, but he has the potential to develop into a fine starter, and the Angels have never seen him before. This has "no run support for Kelvim" written all over it, which I say with the sincere hope that I'll look like a fool on Saturday night. But Escobar has been the Angels' most reliable starter this year, and the Angels should be in this one until the end.

Sunday - John Wasdin (2-4, 6.71) at Jarrod Washburn (11-7, 4.73). I give Wasdin credit for managing to stick around the majors for nine years despite posting a career 5.36 ERA as a right-handed pitcher. If the offense can't produce here, it's going to be ugly.

These are, in fact, just about ideal matchups for Anaheim. No Ryan Drese or Kenny Rogers for Texas. No John Lackey, Ramon Ortiz, or Aaron Sele for Anaheim.

Additionally, Alfonso Soriano looks likely to miss the series (and possibly the rest of the season) due to an injury sustained in yesterday's game against the A's. I'm not sure how much this will slow down the Rangers' attack, since they're extraordinarily deep offensively, but Soriano had hit in twelve of Texas's last thirteen games, including hitting four home runs.

Meanwhile, here are the probable starters for the Oakland-Seattle series, in Seattle:

Friday - Zito (11-10, 4.44) at Meche (5-6, 4.92)
Saturday - Hudson (11-5, 3.36) at Baek (1-3, 7.13)
Sunday - Redman (10-12, 4.94) at Madritsch (5-2, 3.03)

Saturday's game should be a lock for the A's, but both Friday and Sunday feature Seattle pitchers who've been on fire recently against Oakland pitchers who've been inconsistent all season. Those games could go either way.

The pieces are in place. The Angels need to go for the kill. It's time to step on some necks.