Are the Angels on the Right Track?

Notwithstanding their comeback defeat from a near victory last night, and their overall 6-7 early season 2014 start, the Angels appear to have a different attitude and a different aura about them this season – a feeling that the horror of last season is now far behind them and that better things are in store for them this season.

In fact, the team that had trouble scoring a year ago is today leading the major leagues in home runs, and is second in the American League in scoring. This is in large part due to the great start by the now injured Josh Hamilton, and also to the good numbers put up so far from another of last season’s major disappointments, Albert Pujols. Hamilton, who will be out until the end of May, who has played in only eight games complied a .444 average

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with two home runs and six RBI before his injury. A year ago after eight games he was hitting .156. Pujols has hit four home runs and driven in nine over the team’s first 13 games this season. A year ago, he did not hit number four until the 25th game. They do need some hitting from the newly acquired third baseman David Freese, who has had a terrible start to his Angels’ career, which seems to be following the pattern established by Pujols in 2012 and continued by Hamilton in 2013.

There has also been an improvement in what seemed to be the club’s biggest question mark coming into the season, starting pitching. C.J.

Wilson and Garrett Richards have been outstanding so far, and Hector Santiago and Tyler Skaggs, though both inconsistent, have each pitched really well in one or more of their starts. They have been major improvements over the 2013 starters they replaced, Tommy Hanson (4-3, 5.43) and the now retired Joe Blanton (2-14, 6.04) The guy that has been the disappointment and who has been the reason the team is a game under .500 rather than a game over .500, is ace Jered Weaver. Weaver’s unexpected poor start should not be a continuing concern, and he should be ironing out his problems soon, and get back to the anchor that he has been for so long.

They also need more consistency from the bullpen, especially from closer Ernesto Frieri. Frieri had a rough first outing and of course gave up the game-losing ninth-inning pinch-hit home run last night to John Jaso. But, in between, he was almost perfect, giving up no more than a single base of balls over four appearances.

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The Angels do have their work cut out for them tonight, despite Richards being the starter. Oakland has been playing great ball, and their pitching, despite two starters on the DL, has been lights out. Don Straly starts tonight against Richards and the Angels, and they have hit him pretty hard in the past (5.82 ERA over six prior starts). The Angels really need to win this one tonight, as they then have one more against the As before leaving on an absolute killer road trip to Detroit, Washington and Yankee Stadium. While the Angels are in those cities, Oakland will be playing seven of their next ten against Houston. The Angels need to reduce the distance between them and Oakland before hitting the road.

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