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Slider Key to Santana Victory, More Who's on First. Halolinks.

Santana shuts down Royals - Wichita Eagle
On Monday, specifically, Yost pointed to Angels starter Ervin Santana, and a killer slider, in explaining the loss. Nothing more. "I'm going to tell you right now," Yost declared, "that is the best slider we've seen all year. His slider, I don't know if you call it devastating, but it was just short of devastating. If we had somebody else besides Santana throwing that slider today, there's no telling what would have happened. But he matched up with a guy who had a nasty slider." "That's the best I've seen Santana," first baseman Billy Butler said, "and I've had quite a few at-bats against him. He was changing speeds and keeping us off-balance. I got into a count where I was looking for it and still couldn't hit it." Santana gave up one run and seven hits in seven innings before Kevin Jepsen and Scot Shields closed out the Angels' third straight victory and fifth in six games. They made it look easy — like (almost) always. The Angels won nine of 10 games last year between the two teams and are 36-12 against the Royals since the start of the 2004 season. That includes a whopping 24-6 domination at the K.

I sometimes like linking to the other team's local newspaper to get a different take on the game. In this article, the Royals were very impressed with Santana's pitching, specifically his slider. Santana limits the Royals to one run in seven - Ervin Santana holds the Royals to one run in seven innings, striking out six. Here are some other video highlights: Rivera lifts a solo shot in the second inning - Juan Rivera blasts a solo shot deep to left to give the Angels an early lead in the top of the second inning. Izturis hits a solo shot off the foul pole - Maicer Izturis belts a solo home run off the left-field foul pole in the third inning to give the Angels a 3-0 lead. Napoli belts a two-run homer in the eighth - Mike Napoli lifts a two-run home run just over the center-field wall to give the Angels a 7-1 lead in the eighth.


Angels-Royals Preview - FOX Sports on MSN
What is a pattern is Brian Bannister (4-3, 4.70 ERA) making a quality start. Despite matching a season high with nine hits allowed, the right-hander won his third straight outing in Thursday's 4-3 victory over the Red Sox. Three relievers followed Bannister with three perfect innings. "That's how it's supposed to look," said Bannister, who is 0-1 with a 6.08 ERA in two starts against Los Angeles. "I was able to give a quality start and some good arms came out of the 'pen and did their job." Bannister will try to win four consecutive starts for the first time since Aug. 17-Sept. 2, 2007. The Angels will counter with Joel Pineiro (3-5, 4.95), who has a 14.59 ERA while losing his last three road starts. The right-hander was solid in his last outing, throwing six innings of two-hit ball in Wednesday's 6-5 win over Toronto, but he walked three of his season-high four in the second inning as the Blue Jays scored three times. "It's weird, because I wasn't getting hit around. It was just the walks,'' Los Angeles has won 27 of 36 in Kansas City since the beginning of the 2002 season.

In other words, the Angels have only lost 9 times in 8 years. PWNED.

Losing Kendry Morales isn't Los Angeles Angels' only concern - FOX Sports on MSN
Yes, the Angels need a first baseman. But they also need better production out of every other infield position, left field, right and designated hitter – not to mention a more consistent rotation and significantly improved bullpen. "I’m not sure even with Kendry Morales they were as good as they thought they were," one American League general manager says. The best solution for the team might be to find a short-term backup catcher and continue using Mike Napoli at first and Bobby Wilson at catcher until Jeff Mathis returns from a broken bone in his right wrist. Such a plan would leave the Angels flexible enough to make other moves – say, for a starting pitcher or bullpen help.

There are many Angels trade rumors swirling about. I've read the club may look into trading for Paul Konerko, Lance Berkman, or Mike Lowell (see below). Or sign one of the free-agent leftovers such as Jermaine Dye or Carlos Delgado. I've got an idea (and I'll continue to beat this dead horse), trading for Juan Pierre now even more sense than when I brought it up (many times) this spring? Instead of signing a player like Dye to play first base, who has almost zero experience at that position, how about trading for Pierre? Put him in left and have Juan Rivera take over for Morales. Trading for Pierre will fill two Angel needs; 1) Improve their outfield defense. Okay, we've all heard how crappy Pierre is on defense, but the stats don't back that up. At least not this season. This may be far fetched, but according to Fangraphs, Pierre is having a better season defensively (in every category) than highly touted Franklin Gutierrez, and rates second in the major leagues in Ultimate Zone Rating. 2) Improve their batting order by replacing Aybar at the top of the order.

Mike Lowell makes sense for Angels - Truth & Rumors
While the Red Sox seem not to, the Angels may now have room for Mike Lowell. Whether [Kendry] Morales plays again this year, the Angels are staring at a gaping hole at first base, which is where Lowell enters the equation.

If not my man Pierre, this probably makes the most sense.

On Angels' Kendry Morales walkoff home run celebration injury - Joe Posnanski -
High school boys, on average, watch more television and are more likely to spend three or more hours on a computer than high school girls.

Yeah, I know. The above quote has nothing to do with Morales, celebrating, or injuries. But I just wanted to say I have no idea why high school boys watch more TV, but as far as the 3 hours on the internet? I think it might have something to do with naked women. Just a hunch. Anyway, read the article, as with most Posnanski article, you'll enjoy it.

Oswalt ejected in opener vs. Nationals -
Astros pitcher Roy Oswalt was ejected in the third inning of Monday's 14-4 loss against the Nationals by home-plate umpire Bill Hohn for arguing balls and strikes. He was ejected after throwing a close 2-2 pitch to Josh Willingham that Hohn called a ball. Oswalt said something to Hohn as he walked toward the mound and was quickly ejected.

Another crappy umpire being a crappy umpire story. What's interesting about this is the above link is from the MLB site. It doesn't mention anything about Oswalt not yelling at the umpire, and mentions Oswalt was ejected for yelling at the umpire. What it doesn't state is Oswalt was yelling at himself, and was telling the umpire he wasn't talking to him when he got ejected. Watch the video in the link.

Gross robs Laird of a home run in the third - Video -
Gabe Gross robs Gerald Laird of a home run as he leaps over the left-field wall to make an amazing catch in the third inning

Nice catch.

What's it like to be Bryce Harper? - Yahoo! Sports
What it’s like to be Bryce Harper is to seek the longer challenge, to wish for the game to go through – rather than around – him. He’s so sure he can do this that he won’t allow it to go any other way. Maybe he’s the best prospect ever, or the second best, or barely on the list, whatever. It doesn’t matter. We know there haven’t been many like him, not at 17. We know that guys like this – boys who become men, early – more often go off to play football or basketball. We know that sometimes baseball picks the boy, not the other way around. They are the special ones.

Has anyone heard of this Bryce Harper kid? Sounds intriguing.

Bugs & Cranks " Our Flag Never Looked So…
That’s Tom Helmer (left) and Hall of Fame baseball writer Tracy Ringolsby (right/cowboy hat) of Fox Sports Rocky Mountain showing their overwhelming patriotism before today’s game.


June 1 - BR Bullpen
1925 - Lou Gehrig of the New York Yankees pinch-hit for Pee Wee Wanninger, beginning his streak of playing in 2,130 consecutive games. The next day, first baseman Wally Pipp showed up with a headache, and Gehrig took over.
1975 - California Angels Nolan Ryan's 100th career victory was a memorable one as he beat the Baltimore Orioles ,1 - 0 and tied Sandy Koufax's big league mark by pitching his fourth no-hitter.
1995 - In the amateur draft, the California Angels selected first pick Darin Erstad. He will sign for a $1.6 bonus, the highest signing bonus to date.
Happy b-day...
1941 - Dean Chance, pitcher; All-Star
1942 - Ken McMullen, infielder

Who's getting laid? Mike Napoli, that's who:

Los Angeles Angels
Erick Aybar, SS 4 0 1 1 1 0 0 .243
Maicer Izturis, 3B 5 1 1 1 0 1 2 .237
Bobby Abreu, RF 5 0 1 0 0 1 2 .275
Torii Hunter, CF 5 0 1 0 0 1 2 .270
Hideki Matsui, DH 5 0 0 0 0 2 3 .229
Juan Rivera, LF 3 2 1 1 1 1 0 .228
Mike Napoli, C 3 3 3 2 1 0 0 .271
Howard Kendrick, 2B 4 0 2 2 0 1 1 .261
Michael Ryan, 1B 3 1 1 0 0 1 2 .174
Robb Quinlan, 1B 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
Totals 38 7 11 7 3 8
2B - Erick Aybar (11, Hochevar), Bobby Abreu (16, Soria), Mike Napoli (10, Hochevar), Howard Kendrick (12, Hochevar)
HR - Maicer Izturis (1, Hochevar), Juan Rivera (7, Hochevar), Mike Napoli (8, Marte)
RBI - Erick Aybar (8), Maicer Izturis (11), Juan Rivera (22), Mike Napoli 2 (19), Howard Kendrick 2 (29)
2-OUT RBI - Juan Rivera (10), Howard Kendrick 2 (9)
SB - Mike Napoli (3, 2nd base off Hochevar/Kendall), Howard Kendrick (5, 2nd base off Hochevar/Kendall)
Team LOB - 7
DP - Napoli-Kendrick
Kansas City Royals
Scott Podsednik, LF 4 0 1 0 0 1 1 .295
Mike Aviles, 2B 4 0 0 0 0 2 1 .314
David DeJesus, RF 4 0 2 0 0 1 0 .290
Billy Butler, 1B 4 0 0 0 0 1 2 .342
Jose Guillen, DH 4 0 1 0 0 3 2 .250
Alberto Callaspo, 3B 4 1 3 0 0 1 1 .296
Mitch Maier, CF 4 0 0 0 0 0 4 .264
Yuniesky Betancourt, SS 3 0 0 0 0 1 1 .276
Jason Kendall, C 3 0 1 1 0 1 1 .287
Totals 34 1 8 1 0 11
2B - David DeJesus (15, Santana), Alberto Callaspo 2 (16, Santana, Santana), Jason Kendall (10, Santana)
RBI - Jason Kendall (11)
2-OUT RBI - Jason Kendall (6)
SB - Alberto Callaspo (3, 2nd base off Santana/Napoli)
CS - David DeJesus (3, 2nd base by Santana/Napoli)
Team LOB - 6
Los Angeles Angels
Ervin Santana (W,5-3) 7 7 1 1 0 6 0 3.43
Kevin Jepsen 1 0 0 0 0 3 0 5.30
Scot Shields 1 1 0 0 0 2 0 6.48
Pitches-Strikes - Ervin Santana 101-67, Kevin Jepsen 11-10, Scot Shields 17-11
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Ervin Santana 7-7
Batters Faced - Ervin Santana 27, Kevin Jepsen 3, Scot Shields 4
Kansas City Royals
Luke Hochevar (L,5-3) 7 9 5 5 2 7 2 5.10
Victor Marte 1 1 2 2 1 0 1 5.79
Joakim Soria 0.2 1 0 0 0 1 0 2.75
Brad Thompson 0.1 0 0 0 0 0 0 7.13
Pitches-Strikes - Luke Hochevar 106-65, Victor Marte 21-11, Joakim Soria 19-13, Brad Thompson 1-1
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Luke Hochevar 7-7, Victor Marte 1-2
Batters Faced - Luke Hochevar 32, Victor Marte 5, Joakim Soria 3, Brad Thompson 1
Game Information
Attendance - 24651
Game Time - 2:39
Temperature - 79
Umpires - Home - Brian Runge, First Base - Mike Winters, Second Base - Hunter Wendelstedt, Third Base - Mike Estabrook