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Thursday Halolinks: Josh Hamilton homers twice as Angels bombard Cubs

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The Angels follow-up their Tuesday night loss with a 5-homer drubbing of the Cubs at Wrigley.

David Banks

One of the greatest actors of our generation, in a role he was born to play, uttered the words that completely and resolutely summarize last night's gem against the Chicago Cubs:

Keanu Reeves: "Whoa."

I suppose I could have gone with the "Payback" spin on the game, as the Angels responded to Tuesday's 5-homer barrage from the Cubs hitters with a 5 home run return volley, but that'd be too predictable. Instead, let's focus on the overall picture that last night's win adds to;

  • Since June 25th, the Angels have gone 11-3, but unfortunately have improved by just one game in the standings.
  • They've out-scored their opponents 80-58, and as a team are hitting .287 with 20 home runs.
  • C.J. Wilson has won all three of his 4 starts during this recent surge, compiling a 2.45 ERA in 25.2 innings.
  • Since June 25th, Erick Aybar has 18 for 51 (.353 BA), and posted a .375 OBP. This might explain Mike Scioscia's compulsive need to put him in the leadoff spot.
  • During the same span Josh Hamilton has hit .346 with 4 home runs and 14 RBI, while getting on base at a .426 clip.

I mentioned yesterday that I was to blame for the Angels losses whenever I wrote about a big turn-around. So, no such talk today, just the Halolink form:

  • Los Angeles Angels at Chicago Cubs - July 10, 2013 - "The Angels (44-46) have now won 11 of their last 14 games and can finish the first half with a winning record if they sweep the Mariners in Seattle this weekend. "We're capable of doing that from top to bottom in our lineup," Hamilton said. "The key is doing it on a consistent basis, day in and day out. We've done that better over the last couple weeks and hopefully we can keep that going through the rest of this half." Yep, that's the key, can they keep it up? Has this recent play been the result of some cure that will carry them the rest of the season, or is this just a streak of good play that can end any day?
  • If it is a cure, it's been given to both Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton: Hamilton homers twice as Angels dominate Cubs 13-2 - Yahoo! Sports. "It wasn't just the back-to-back (homers), but Albert had good at-bats all night," Scioscia said. "He took the walks when they were there and we cashed in with guys in scoring position with Josh. With Albert and Josh, obviously those are two guys that are critical to where we want to be. To see those guys have such good nights in the same game, I hope we see more of it."
  • Los Angeles Angels at Chicago Cubs - Jul 10, 2013 - ""That game got out of hand," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. "Give credit to some really good hitters. They get paid a lot of money to hit mistakes and they obviously didn't miss 'em tonight." Did anyone else picture Ron Burgundy?
  • I don't about this one. How can one at-bat change an entire season? Long at-bat might have sparked hot streak for Angels' Erick Aybar - "In 25 games since June 12, Aybar is 33 for 96 (.344) with 13 multi-hit games and 20 runs batted in to push his average to .288. In the Angels' Wednesday night victory over the Chicago Cubs, he doubled to right field to spark a five-run first inning and singled during a six-run fifth." Or even the next 25 games.
  • One of the few Halos not hot: Kendrick gets rare day off against Cubs - "Angels second baseman Howie Kendrick -- hitless in his last 12 at-bats and 3-for-25 overall -- yet still batting .308 -- got only his second day off on Wednesday, sitting out the finale of a two-game series against the Cubs at Wrigley Field."
  • Angles first baseman Albert Pujols hit his 490th career homer on Wednesday - ""Hopefully that's the last time you bring that up," said Pujols, always uncomfortable when the focus is on his individual exploits, after the Angels' 13-2 win over the Cubs. "I don't think about it. When that time comes, it comes and we can talk about it. Right now, this is not about me. It's about helping our ballclub win."
  • Joe Blanton or Joe Saunders? Which Joe would you rather see in the Angels' rotation? Los Angeles Angels at Seattle Mariners - July 12, 2013 - "Left-hander Joe Saunders gets the ball for the Mariners, looking for his first victory over the Angels -- his former team. In two starts, he has allowed just three runs in 14 innings against the Halos, including a complete-game loss on June 19. Saunders (7-8, 4.51 ERA) spent six seasons with the Angels from 2005-10. During that time, he went 54-32 with a 4.29 ERA. Saunders won 17 and 16 games, respectively, in 2008 and '09."
  • All-Time Baseball Franchise Ranking Project: #30-#20 - The Read Zone. "Although the Angels do not have a particularly young roster, we will see some change on this list soon. Jered Weaver is only a few good starts away from displacing Lackey and Tanana. Similarly Mike Trout might actually catch Jim Edmonds before this season even ends. Both of them should push the team’s total up fairly quickly." Surprising fact: Chone Figgins is the Angels WAR leader at third base.
  • Great post: Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Calling Games - Beyond the Box Score. "Let's say Saltalamacchia calls for a 3-2 slider, and it's out of the zone, but the batter swings and misses. Do we give Salty credit, because his thought process was sound, based on a batter's O-Swing percentage on full counts and contact rate against sliders? But what if the exact same slider was taken, and in spite of the thought process, the batter walks. That goes against a pitcher's FIP, but was it just a misguided request by the catcher?" About an even greater post: In Depth With Jarrod Saltalamacchia - FanGraphs Baseball. ""I look into the off-speed data, like, ‘What’s his average against sliders?’ and ‘What’s his average against curveballs?’ He could be hitting .170, then all of a sudden, with two strikes he’s hitting .320. What does that tell you? It tells you that on 0-2, he’s looking soft. Or maybe he’s gone from a .300 hitter on fastballs to an .080 hitter on 0-2 fastballs."
  • Our prayer go out to Daulton and his family: Darren Daulton diagnosed with brain cancer - Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia. "The catcher, who spent 14 seasons with the Phillies, underwent surgery on July 2 at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital. Though doctors said the surgery "went well," they did not specify whether all the malignant cells in Daulton's brain had been removed."

I know, no one cares about your fantasy team, but I made a trade in my league that I need some crowd-sourcing on. I'm 14 points out of first and I dealt Mike Trout for Giancarlo Stanton, Yoenis Cepedes, Zack Greinke, and Edward Mujica. Did I improve my team or screw it up?