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Angels Preview: Athletics, Orioles

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This week the Angels will pack their bags for Oakland to face the Athletics, followed by a four game set in which they will host Buck Showhalter's Baltimore Orioles.

How you doin'?
How you doin'?

April was a rough month for the Angels. They finished a couple of games below .500, which is good enough to keep them neck-and-neck with the Mariners and behind the Athletics and Rangers. This week, they play against two teams that brought them fierce competition last year. So will the April showers bring May flowers? Let's find out!

Angels at Athletics (April 29 7:05pm, April 30 7:05pm, May 1 12:35pm)

Two weeks ago, the Athletics took out the broomsticks on the Halos. A rough week it was. Now the Athletics and Angels are back at in in a three game series. The final game of the series has the wonderful early start.

Bartolo Colon and Tommy Milone have been the better of the A's starting pitchers; however, the Halos will likely not see their former ace. Instead they will probably see Brett Anderson Dan Straily and Jarrod Parker. Anderson has struggled -- leading the team in walks and has just one win. Parker doesn't get much better as he is winless and his ERA is as large as a hot air balloon. I think we can all agree that Josh Hamilton wants to correct his snafu from last year in which contributed to the Rangers losing the division.

The A's certainly don't lack in scoring. In their last showdown, Oakland generated twenty-eight runs and greatly outscored the Angels who brought in eleven runs. Jed Lowrie, who came over from the Houston Astros, joins Jason Donaldson, Coco Crisp, Brandon Moss, Seth Smith, Chris Young, and Josh Reddick in the A's lineup. The reason they were all mentioned? Each of them have scored ten or more runs. Bob Melvin is certainly happy about his team's production.

Projected Starting Pitchers -- TBD/Straily, Richards/Parker, Wilson/Milone

Orioles at Angels (May 2 7:05pm, May 3 7:05pm, May 4 1:05pm, May 5 12:35pm)

Buck Showalter has greatly improved the Baltimore Orioles since taking over the team on July 29, 2010. After making it to the American League Divisional Series, Showalter earned himself the AL Manager of the Year Award and earned an extension through the 2018 season. Mike Scioscia did the same in 2009, earning a ten year deal. Showalter rebuilt a team that hadn't seen the playoffs in years. Scioscia just continued the Angels success (although time could be running out for him). Enough about that because it's a story for another day.

The Orioles pitching rotation is one that looks familiar from last year. Wei-Yin Chen leads the O's rotation and boasts a WHIP around one and an ERA just about 2.50. Behind him sits Jason Hammel, Miguel Gonzalez and Chris Tillman -- none of which are your household names. But Buck's bullpen is where the the Orioles shine. Every single man in that bullpen displays an outstanding ERA (with the exception of Pedro Strop who is extremely inconsistent), and Joe Johnson has been as solid as he was last year. He's completed all of his save opportunities, ten, and has earned himself just one run. Maybe Josh Hamilton will have another offensive explosion like last year and not go dormant like the Wild Card game against the Orioles.

What will the Angels pitching rotation have to face in this series? Well, for Joe Blanton it doesn't seem to matter. But for everyone else it does. Adam Jones, Chris Davis, Nate McClouth have been stellar this season. Davis and Jones combine for more than eleven home runs and McClouth has been a walk machine, generating more than thirteen of them, and maintaining a healthy OBP. Mike Butcher better have the bullpen ready because I can't see Joe Blanton eating many innings against an offensive powerhouse like this Orioles team.

Projected Starting Pitchers -- Tillman/Blanton, Chen/Vargas, Gonzalez/Richards, Hammel/Wilson

JDawg's Bone to Pick -- Did Mike Scioscia deserve his lengthy extension in 2009 after winning AL Manager of the Year?