Jeff Mathis Takes A Night Off From Suckage, Torii Hunter Is Defensive.  Halolinks.

Jeff Mathis calls his shot.

I feel bad about all of the "Mathis sucks" posting and comments I read everywhere.  I'm just as guilty as anyone as I've had my share of anti-Mathis posts, but it's only fair to give him his "atta boys" when he deserves it...which isn't often (damn, I did it again...sorry Jeff).  Actually, we shouldn't be on Mathis for his performance.  Scioscia is the blame for this situation.  Does anyone think Mathis should say, "You know what Skip, I suck.  You should play that Conger kid instead of me.  I'll be in the bullpen if anyone gets hurt and you need me."  I know I wouldn't take myself out of the game, and we should admire Mathis for his willingness play, regardless of how badly he sucks (opps, sorry). Anyway, the next time someone says "Mathis sucks" point them to this video proof of the contrary:

Mathis keeps the score tied with a great tag - Video - angels.com
Jeff Mathis fields the throw from Torii Hunter and applies the tag while falling down to retire Andy LaRoche in the seventh

Mathis' two-run single pads Angels' lead - Video - MLB.com
Jeff Mathis pads the Angels' lead with a two-run single to left in the eighth inning

NICE GAME JEFF MATHIS!

Speaking of admiring a player, the following quote makes me realize how much I admire Torii Hunter (Angels 4, Athletics 1 -  FOX Sports):

If given a choice of cutting down the potential tying run at home plate or delivering a tiebreaking hit late in the game, Torii Hunter would always go with the clutch defensive play.''Throwing the runner out is much better,'' said Hunter, playing his first full season in right field after winning nine Gold Gloves in center. ''Defense is everything to me, man. I've got to be honest. I've gotten better as a hitter, but defense is what got me here and I'll never forget that. So I never slack on defense, no matter if I'm struggling at the plate or not.''

If defense is such an important part of Hunter's game, it's pretty impressive he was willing to move from center to right field last season when the club decided to play Peter Bourjos full-time.  To make a change in the most important part of your game for the betterment of the team goes beyond anything you can say.  Speaking with your actions carries so much more weight, and shows why Hunter is the leader of this team.

Someone making their first major league start?  (Athletics-Angels Preview -  FOX Sports):

Having been backed by minimal offensive support, Haren hopes the Angels lineup can take advantage of facing minor league call-up Guillermo Moscoso, who will make his first major league start for the visiting Oakland Athletics on Tuesday night.

Looks like Haren will need to pitch a shutout.

 

MORE LINKS AFTER THE BREAK...

Halos cautious with Kendrick's tight hamstring - angels.com
"They want to give it a little more time to heal," Kendrick said. "I'll be back pretty soon. I hate to watch, but sometimes you have no choice." He did pool therapy on Friday and will start running on the field again on Tuesday or Wednesday, Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. There was nothing new to report on outfielder Vernon Wells, who is playing catch in his recovery from a right groin strain. Scioscia said it was too early to give a timetable for Wells' return.

Just a heads up.

Walden making adjustments as Angels closer - The Orange County Register
Walden has adopted Haren's discovery – "Dragula" by Rob Zombie – for his past two appearances. Like the power-pitching approach Walden uses to close out games, it is short on nuance and demands attention.

I actually like "Smoke on the Water" as Walden's song.  I also thought "Smoke" was a good nickname.  I think Haren got this one wrong.  If Walden was going to go with a Rob Zombie song as his entrance song, it should have been this one, or this one (mainly for the opening riff).

THE VIDEOS:

Hunter saves game with arm, wins it with bat -  MLB.com
Daily Recap: After making a run-saving throw in the seventh, Torii Hunter hit a go-ahead double to spark the Halos decisive eighth

Hunter's double gives the Halos a late lead -  MLB.com
Torii Hunter drills an RBI double off the wall in right to put the Angels on top in the bottom of the eighth

F on G - baseballmusings.com
Last season, Bill James came up with the concept of work regularity scores, based on the idea that pitchers actually do better when they are given roles and regular work, rather than setting schedules based on opponents (for starters) or bringing in pitchers based on a situation (relievers).

Geez, it looks like I owe Mike Scioscia an apology.

Fuentes criticizes "unorthodox managing" - Major Lee-ague
How do you feel with the way the manager has handled you as a reliever?
Fuentes: Pretty poorly.
How much different is this compared to past managers?
Fuentes: It’s a pretty drastic difference.

Geez, it looks like I owe Mike Scioscia another apology.

Is Torii Hunter a foundation for the offense? -  ESPN Los Angeles
For the first time this season, Hunter looks like he's found it. He slammed two doubles to right-center field Monday night, including the one in the eighth inning that pushed across the go-ahead run in the Angels' 4-1 win over the Oakland A's. Since that day in Seattle, Hunter is 7-for-15 with six RBIs and, as Scioscia put it, his swing has more "crispness" to it. Merry crispness, in fact.

Let's see, how important is the clean-up hitter to a team's hitting success?  Gee, I don't know, but if I were to make a huge assumption I'd say "Chaa!  Like, really important and stuff.  For sure." 

THE CHART:

20110523_athletics_angels_0_medium

via www.fangraphs.com

Why all the parity in baseball? - - FOX Sports
"The superpowers aren’t good," one GM says. "The Yankees have poor starting pitching and look old. The Dodgers are struggling, the Cubs and White Sox the same. The Angels have a bad bullpen and are coming back to earth offensively. The Mets are rebuilding.

The latest Ken Rosenthal.  "Bad bullpen"?  And here I thought it  was a strength.  Silly me.  I went and did a quick check.  According to FanGraphs, the Angels have the 28th ranked bullpen (by WAR) in the majors.  Am I the only one who this surprises?

Blog Eat Blog: Batmen Return - Baseball Daily Digest
The Texas twosome wasted no time announcing their collective presence with authority, with each masher doing his yardwork in the first game back. Josh Hamilton hit a bomb on the first pitch that he saw from John Danks yesterday, knocking an opposite-field liner in the first inning that cleared the wall by mere inches. Cruz followed with a two-run shot of his own five innings later, though his was a towering drive off of a plate-soaked fastball with no doubt to leave the yard.

The Halos might have wasted their opportunity to kick the Rangers when they had their chance.  The Rangers are 10-2 when Josh Hamilton plays, 15-21 without him.

Beyond the Box Score Power Rankings: Week 8 - Beyond the Box Score
Angels - #19: Jeff Mathis (.216 wOBA) has as many plate appearances as Hank Conger (.311 wOBA). Meanwhile in the outfield, Vernon Wells' and Torii Hunters' OPSs combine for a nice 1.193 - just ahead of Lance Berkman.

I blame the bullpen...they frickin' suck.

Living off the Long Ball: Team Runs and Home Runs, 2011 - Beyond the Box Score
So far this year, roughly 32% of all team runs have scored as a result of a home run. I thought it might be interesting to see which teams are scoring largely based on the long ball. The graph above depicts the percent of all runs scored by each team this year via a home run.

Hr__rs_2011_medium_medium

I think this is what they were referring to when it was stated "are coming back to earth offensively".  At the end of April, the Angels were one of the top ranked offensive teams.

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About UZR But Were Afraid to Ask - Beyond the Box Score
The ability to substantiate defensive performance in an analytical form has become, in essence, almost a necessity for sabermetricians in need of verification of whether a fielder is a solid defender or not. Since 2002, UZR (Ultimate Zone Rating) has been the most commonly used defensive metric for those who have cognition of it's importance.

Saber-Friendly Tip #2: Talkin’ About Power - FanGraphs Baseball
When you stop and think about it, despite the numerous baseball statistics out there, there are only a few limited ways of talking about a batter’s power. While there are a multitude of options when talking about plate discipline — On-Base Percentage, walk rate, outside swing rate, etc. — there are only a handful of widely available stats to use for power: the old standby, Slugging Percentage; a player’s raw total of homeruns or extra base hits; or the sabermetric alternative, Isolated Power.

A couple sabermetric pieces for the numbers folks.

The Mariners And A’s Are The Exact Same Team - FanGraphs Baseball
There’s something rather interesting going on over in the AL West; the only four team division in baseball is really only offering three different teams this year. There are still four franchises, but Oakland and Seattle have apparently decided to put the exact same team on the field this year.

Dave Cameron and Jeff Sullivan are the exact same guy.  Okay, maybe not, but that's all I got.

In the major leagues, formulating a lineup isn't as easy as it might look - latimes.com
The fourth hitter, for example, is "very rarely" connected with the ninth, according to Scioscia. But the first hitter is going to be, especially in the AL, which uses a designated hitter instead of giving the pitcher a turn at the plate.

Sort of interesting, but it's been postulated that batting orders have a 5-15 runs per season effect on teams.  So, a batting order isn't going to make a bad team good, and vise versa.

Ladies and gentleman, the Angels 2012 Opening Day first baseman:


 

Sabathia likely to use opt-out; seek more years - CBSSports.com
The opt-out clause in CC Sabathia's contract will kick in after the season, giving Sabathia a chance to hit the free-agent market and potentially leave New York. Don't bet on Sabathia actually leaving New York, as he's made his home in the city and is the "heart of this team," as one Yankee put it to SI.com's Jon Heyman. Exercising that opt-out clause, though? That's "100 percent" happening, a competing AL executive said.

"So you're saying there's a chance?"  Weaver-Haren-Sabathia

CC Sabathia figures to use opt-out clause to extend his contract - Jon Heyman - SI.com
Sabathia will have a healthy $92 million and four years to go on his deal after this season, but it's also known that his friend and former Indians teammate Cliff Lee was offered $148 million over seven years by the Yankees. And Lee was 32 years old at the time, two years older than Sabathia is now, at the time of that offer.

Just in case you missed it the first time.

Strasburg throws off bullpen mound -  CBSSports.com
The 22-year-old pitching phenom had ligament replacement surgery on his right elbow Sept. 3. It is expected to take 12 to 18 months for him to return to the majors.

It seems like the recovery time for this procedure is getting shorter and shorter, but that's just my perception.

May 24 - BR Bullpen
Events, births and deaths that occurred on May 24.
1918 - Stan Coveleski of the Cleveland Indians pitches a 19-inning, complete game to defeat the New York Yankees 3 - 2. Former P Joe Wood hits a home run in the 19th inning - his second of the game - to end the 3:45 marathon.  Less than four hours for a 19-inning game?  I wish it were possible to watch a game from 100 years ago to see how quickly it was played.  I have a feeling it the pace would be too fast.
1964 - Harmon Killebrew of the Minnesota Twins hits the longest home run in Baltimore's Memorial Stadium, a 471-foot shot to left-center off right-hander Milt Pappas.  Rest in peace Mr. Killebrew.
1972 - California Angels pitcher Don Rose hits a home run in his first major league at-bat. Rose connects against Vida Blue of the Oakland Athletics, helping himself and the Angels to a 6 - 5 victory. Rose will never win another game or hit another home run in the major leagues.  Well, at least he had May 24, 1972.
1993 - The Mariners defeat the Angels‚ 4 - 3‚ in 14 innings. In the course of the game‚ California OF Luis Polonia ties an American League record by being caught stealing 3 times‚ twice on pitchouts. 
Happy b-day:
1946 - Ellie Rodriguez, catcher; All-Star
1973 - Bartolo Colon, pitcher; All-Star

 

Oakland Athletics
Hitters AB R H RBI BB SO LOB AVG
Coco Crisp, CF 3 1 2 0 1 1 2 .278
Daric Barton, 1B 3 0 0 0 1 1 1 .214
Ryan Sweeney, LF 2 0 0 0 1 1 1 .313
   a- Josh Willingham, PH-LF 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .233
Hideki Matsui, DH 3 0 1 1 0 0 1 .236
Conor Jackson, 3B 4 0 1 0 0 0 2 .255
David DeJesus, RF 4 0 1 0 0 1 2 .232
Kurt Suzuki, C 4 0 1 0 0 1 1 .245
Andy LaRoche, 2B 4 0 1 0 0 0 2 .221
Cliff Pennington, SS 4 0 1 0 0 1 0 .236
Totals 32 1 8 1 3 6    
a-grounded out for Sweeney in the 8th
Batting
2B - Coco Crisp (11, Jer. Weaver), David DeJesus (5, Jer. Weaver)
SF - Hideki Matsui (2)
RBI - Hideki Matsui (18)
Team LOB - 8
Fielding
DP - LaRoche-Pennington-Barton
Los Angeles Angels
Hitters AB R H RBI BB SO LOB AVG
Maicer Izturis, 2B 3 1 0 0 1 0 2 .302
Erick Aybar, SS 2 0 0 0 1 0 0 .305
Bobby Abreu, DH 4 1 1 1 0 1 1 .269
Torii Hunter, RF 3 1 2 1 1 1 0 .238
Alberto Callaspo, 3B 3 0 1 0 1 0 2 .296
Mark Trumbo, 1B 4 1 0 0 0 0 5 .252
Jeff Mathis, C 4 0 2 2 0 0 0 .202
Peter Bourjos, CF 3 0 1 0 1 1 2 .242
Reggie Willits, LF 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
Totals 28 4 7 4 5 3    
Batting
2B - Torii Hunter 2 (7, Outman, Wuertz)
SH - Erick Aybar (5), Reggie Willits (1)
RBI - Bobby Abreu (21), Torii Hunter (25), Jeff Mathis 2 (7)
2-OUT RBI - Jeff Mathis 2 (5)
SB - Bobby Abreu (8, 2nd base off Wuertz/Suzuki)
Team LOB - 7
Fielding
Outfield Assists - Torii Hunter 1
DP - Callaspo-Izturis-Trumbo
PB - Jeff Mathis (4)
Oakland Athletics
Pitchers IP H R ER BB SO HR ERA
Josh Outman 7 5 1 1 3 2 0 1.29
Brian Fuentes (L,1-7) 0.1 0 1 1 1 0 0 5.06
Michael Wuertz 0.2 2 2 2 1 1 0 2.13
IBB - Callaspo by Michael Wuertz
Pitches-Strikes - Josh Outman 102-69, Brian Fuentes 10-6, Michael Wuertz 19-10
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Josh Outman 8-10, Brian Fuentes 1-0, Michael Wuertz 1-0
Batters Faced - Josh Outman 28, Brian Fuentes 2, Michael Wuertz 5
Los Angeles Angels
Pitchers IP H R ER BB SO HR ERA
Jered Weaver 7 6 1 1 3 5 0 2.35
Scott Downs (W,2-1) 1 2 0 0 0 0 0 0.66
Jordan Walden (S,9) 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 2.82
Pitches-Strikes - Jered Weaver 110-67, Scott Downs 20-10, Jordan Walden 10-8
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Jered Weaver 6-8, Scott Downs 3-0, Jordan Walden 2-0
Batters Faced - Jered Weaver 28, Scott Downs 5, Jordan Walden 3
Game Information
Attendance - 36215
Game Time - 2:45
Temperature - 63
Umpires - Home - Kerwin Danley, First Base - Victor Carapazza, Second Base - Cory Blaser, Third Base - Paul Nauert
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