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Wednesday Halolinks: Angels continue to add chemistry

Winning creates team chemistry (not the other way around), meaning the Angels have it.

Jeff Gross

Yesterday I wrote that I felt the Angels have "it" this season without defining what "it" is. To me, "it" is the feeling that things are going to go well, a sense of optimism that doesn't fade even when the team loses.  It's possible that "it" is chemistry, but then I'm on record as writing chemistry is a myth created by winning -- the more you win, the more good chemistry your club develops.  Is "it" something like "mo-jo"?  I suppose that's pretty close to what I'm describing, however mo-jo is just as hard to define as "it" is.  Let's just say the Angels are having a pretty good season so far, and are fun to watch...that should be definition enough.

Here are some fun-facts to show the mo-jo chemistry "it" is creating:

Angels starting pitching comparison…
THRU 44 G in 2013 5.03 ERA (12th in AL)
THRU 44 G in 2014 3.58 ERA (4th in AL)

Since his recall May 2, Grant Green is batting .366 (15/41) while hitting safely in 11 of 14

Halos rank fourth in A.L. in slugging pct. (.419), fourth in total bases (647) and third in home runs (49)

And this date in history (May 20th) 1968 - Jim Fregosi became the first Angel player to hit for the cycle at Anaheim Stadium in a 5-4 win over the Boston Red Sox…Fregosi finished the game 4-for-5 with a walk and two RBI, collecting a home run in the first inning, a triple in the third inning, a double in the eighth inning and an RBI single in the 11th inning for the game-winner…He is the only player in Angels’ history to hit for the cycle twice (also, July 28, 1964).  And yet the organization still acts like he didn't exist.  This is shameful, and is probably the only thing taking away from a completely enjoyable season.

  • With last night's win, the Angels improved to 25-20, 4 games behind the division leading Oakland A's.  The Halos have the third-best record in the A.L., and have a 65.9% of making the play-offs (according to ESPN).  As noted above, one of the reason the club is doing so well is its starting pitching: Angels Afterthoughts: Skaggs, Trout and Calhoun - Orange County Register.  "Tyler Skaggs had what was probably his second-best start as an Angel on Tuesday night, and he credited it to one pitch that wasn’t effective in his best start – or any of his others. It was his 12-6 curveball, which he threw 22 times in the 9-3 win over the Astros. “My curveball finally felt like it was to the point where I could throw it for a strike, and I could bounce it when I wanted to,” Skaggs said. “That’s my bread and butter, and it hasn’t been here the whole year. It really felt good today. It gave me a little confidence boost to know that I could throw the curveball at any time.”  So he's still improving?  Yikes!  Even the Houston squad had good things to say about Skagg's performance: Houston Astros vs. Los Angeles Angels - Recap - May 20, 2014 - ESPN.  "Skaggs (4-1) allowed five hits, struck out six and walked one, helping end Houston's three-game winning streak. The only run against the left-hander came on a sacrifice fly by Matt Dominguez in the fourth. "He attacked the zone with his fastball, and his breaking ball was pretty good," Astros manager Bo Porter said. "Jose Altuve came into the dugout and said he was having trouble picking up the spin. So when Altuve's having trouble picking up the spin, you know he's throwing a good one."
  • This doesn't seem right, but if the OCR says so, it must be true: Angels' Skaggs picks up first win at home - The Orange County Register.  "The Angels (25-20) began Tuesday hitting .251 with runners in scoring position and two outs, the best such mark in the American League and fourth-best in the majors. The Giants lead with a .281 average."
  • Things are getting better all the time: Houston Astros at Los Angeles Angels - May 21, 2014 - Preview.  "Third baseman David Freese was activated off the disabled list on Tuesday, right fielder Kole Calhoun could return on Wednesday, left fielder Josh Hamilton is hopeful of rejoining the team by Monday's series opener in Seattle, and key relievers Dane De La Rosa and Sean Burnett could both be less than a week away."  How goes down when the Angels activate Calhoun?
  • Today is Josh Hamilton's birthday.  The currently injured slugger turns 33.  Hamilton confident he'll pick up where he left off -  "When he does return, it'll mark the end of his longest stint on the disabled list since he reached the Majors in 2007. He's been out exactly six weeks as of Tuesday, but that doesn't make him feel as though he won't pick up on the .444/.545/.741 slash line he carried through the first eight games."
  • Astros-Angels Preview - Yahoo Sports.  "Weaver (4-3, 3.14 ERA) went 0-2 with a 5.79 ERA in his first three starts. In his second outing of the year, he allowed five runs on four homers in 5 2-3 innings of a 7-4 loss at Houston on April 6. Since those three games, the former 20-game winner has posted a 1.86 ERA in six outings."
  • What happens when the Angels lose?  Does The Sosh go apeshit on the postgame spread??  Lasagna Disaster Inspires Incredible Headline.  "The full story describes the high-octane lasagna accident in necessary detail." 
  • The draft is about three weeks away, but baseball is gearing up for the annual prospect-fest: How Much Is a Draft Pick Worth in 2014? – The Hardball Times.  "This past March on THT, Matt Swartz estimated that the 30th pick of the draft was worth about $6.7 million of present value. On the other hand, Dan Szymborski of ESPN wrote that the 26th pick that the Braves gave up to sign Ervin Santana was worth $19.6 million."   MLB mock draft 2014: Baseball America projects Carlos Rodon to stay on top - MLB Daily Dish.  "East Carolina's Jeff Hoffman was projected as a top-five pick before undergoing Tommy John surgery earlier this month. He could slip to a team in the middle of the first round -- or even later in the first -- and present a potential steal for the team willing to take a chance on him as he recovers. Here's a mock draft and who the Angels are projected to get:  2014 Draft Preview: Rodon Remains Atop Mock Draft 2.0 -  "15: ANGELS: College bats appear to be the focus for the Angels, though their dearth of starting pitchers in the minor leagues could lead them to take a chance on a damaged pitcher such as Finnegan or Hoffman. Projected Pick: C Max Pentecost"
  • So, the Angels' pitchers aren't getting better, the hitters are just getting worse: Offensive decline continuing in 2014 -  "Heading into Tuesday's action, MLB hitters were posting the lowest batting average and on-base percentage since the 1972 season."
  • This is crazy:  Guerrero injured in dugout fight with Olivo - News.  "According to Boras, Olivo was angry with Guerrero for not tagging out Salt Lake's J.B. Shuck on Olivo's throw to second earlier in the frame -- Olivo confronted Guerrero during a pitching change and was restrained by teammates on the mound after charging at the infielder."  J.B. Shuck causing a commotion at Triple A.  That guy is just gritty.  Anyway, ears the story (sorry): Alex Guerrero of Los Angeles Dodgers involved in altercation with Triple-A teammate Miguel Olivo - ESPN Los Angeles.  "Guerrero was taken to a local hospital. His agent, Scott Boras, told that Olivo bit off part of Guerrero's ear and Guerrero was having plastic surgery on his ear. Sources said Guerrero could miss five weeks."
  • High School Baseball Coach Loses His Shit, Curses Out Team [UPDATE].  "From the Whittier Daily News comes a wonderfully profane audio clip of Kim Brooks, the baseball coach at La Mirada High in La Mirada, California, absolutely laying into his team after a recent loss."