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Thursday Halolinks: Pujols blast puts Angels on top

Albert Pujols' home run gives the Angels the win after CJ Wilson tries to give it away.

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Harry How

Remember about 2 and a half years ago when the Angels signed both C.J. Wilson and Albert Pujols during the 2011 Winter Meetings, the thought was the Angels are all set to dominate the AL West with another great starting pitcher and baseball's best hitter?  That was the last time those two players provided those thoughts on the same day.  Yesterday, Wilson stunk, but Albert came through in the 8th inning to give the Halos a 8-7 win.  Last season, Wilson was arguably the Angels best pitcher, while Pujols' season was once again disappointing.  If these two players can ever be brought together again for an extended stretch, this team could be set for that domination.  Until then, we'll just have to watch as the club fires on 7 of 8 cylinders.  Today's Halolinks:

  • Today must be a day to reminisce.  Think back about a month or so...we were complaining about how terrible the Angels' hitter were with runners in scoring position.  It seems that the team has improved on that, and fortunately Toronto has picked up where the Halos had left off: Toronto Blue Jays at Los Angeles Angels - July 9, 2014 -  "Toronto stranded 12 runners, went 3-for-16 with runners in scoring position and could not take advantage of three Angels errors and a rocky outing from C.J. Wilson as Los Angeles won, 8-7, to take the series at Angel Stadium."
  • Wilson's fourth consecutive poor outing is causing many to wonder, "what's wrong with Wilson?"  He says, "Nothing" Wilson's struggles continue for Angels, with no obvious explanation - The Orange County Register.  "Wilson reiterated he was healthy and said he was hurt Wednesday by a "little bit of misfortune." But he acknowledged a growing sense of frustration with his inability to go further than five innings in four consecutive starts for the first time in his career. In that stretch, he has allowed 40 base runners and 22 runs in 16 2/3 innings."
  • But then he offers this: Problems continue on the mound for Angels' C.J. Wilson - Los Angeles Times.  "To explain his recent struggles, Angels left-hander C.J. Wilson compared his pitching to golf. In his previous start, when he gave up three home runs in 41/3 innings, he was way off in the woods. Against the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday at Angel Stadium, he kept the ball in play, but he wasn't quite precise. As a golfer adjusts and crafts his shots, he said, so must a pitcher. And Wilson's touch has been off for long enough — four starts — to prompt some worry."  To stay within the golf metaphor, Wilson pitches as if he's laying just off the green trying to use finesse to put the ball in the hole.  Instead, he should just grip it and rip it.
  • Was there any doubt that this team couldn't score runs?  How about this tidbit: Pujols powers Angels to 27th comeback win - The Orange County Register.  "It was Pujols’ 20th homer of 2014. Trout also has 20, and no other team has two hitters with as many."
  • And yes, it seems the A's can lose a game: Oakland Athletics vs. San Francisco Giants - Recap - July 09, 2014 - ESPN.  "Hunter Pence homered and drove in two runs, Matt Cain tossed six strong innings, and the Giants spoiled Jason Hammel's debut for Oakland with a 5-2 victory over the Athletics on Wednesday night."
  • The Angels' win and Oakland's loss puts the Halos back to 3.5 games behind.  The Angels have the second-best record in all of baseball...Misc_-_002_medium
  • ...and that .418 winning percentage posted by the Rangers is the major league worst.  Los Angeles Angels at Texas Rangers - July 10, 2014 - Preview.  "The Angels lead the Majors with a 22-9 record since June 6. But in their last 18 road games, they've gone 6-12. And it doesn't help that they've lost eight straight at Globe Life Park dating back to April 2013."  Angels-Rangers Preview - Yahoo Sports.  "The main thing holding Los Angeles back is its 21-22 away record. Toronto and Pittsburgh are the only other teams entering Thursday above .500 but below it on the road. Los Angeles has also dropped eight straight against the Rangers (38-53) in Texas entering this four-game series - its longest current road skid against any team. In their last series there, the Angels concluded 2013 by being swept in four at Texas for the first time since 1978."
  • I thought this was interesting (sorry for all of the Billy Beane stuff recently, but the guys been making the rounds):  Billy Beane On Samardzija Deal, Roster Construction, Further Trades – MLB Trade Rumors.  "On what motivated him to make the trade, he offered the following: "I’ll be honest with you, I happen to think the Angels and the Mariners right behind us are two of the better teams in all of the game and they happen to sit in our division. So the narrative that this was a ‘postseason move,’ I think was a bit presumptuous." He went on to say that winning the division is Oakland’s priority and stressed the dangers of getting involved in a one-game Wild Card playoff. "If you had a one-game playoff and you’re the Wild Card, one of the guys you might be facing is that guy up in Seattle, and that’s not a good situation to be in." Beane, of course, is referring to Mariners ace Felix Hernandez."  That last bit about Felix Hernandez is why the Angels need to overtake Oakland.  Although it seems the Halos have a pretty good record again King Felix, they don't want to risk their playoff run in a one-game duel with the Seattle ace.
  • Yesterday's game featured 4 replay reviews, and two were on plays at home involving the catcher blocking the plate.  Here are a couple screenshots of those two plays:

    In the top of the first inning, Toronto shortstop Jose Reyes attempts to score on an over-throw of third.  Erick Aybar makes a good play to retrieve the ball and throw home.  In this shot, prior to the ball reaching catcher Hank Conger, the Angels' catcher is setup in front of the plate:Misc_-_004_medium
    But once he catches the ball, he steps aside to create a "lane" for Reyes to avoid a collision:
    Conger makes the catch, applies the tag, and Reyes is called out.  In the bottom of the third inning, Mike Trout was thrown out at home: Fourth replay magnified in Angels-Blue Jays finale -  "In the bottom of the third, with the Angels leading, 2-1, a second crew chief review was initiated when Trout, who had singled and advanced to second on a wild pitch, attempted to score on Pujols' single. Trout was called out on center fielder Cabrera's throw home to catcher Erik Kratz, who applied the tag. The umpires convened to again determine if Rule 7.13 was violated, but the call was confirmed after review."  During the game, I thought there was no way the umpires wouldn't reverse the out call based on how much Kratz was blocking the plate, as shown in this screencap:Misc_-_003_medium
    There's no path for Trout to get to the plate without going through the Toronto catcher, but upon looking up the rule, it seems the catcher can be in front of the plate as long as he has the ball: MLB, MLBPA Adopt Experimental Rule 7.13 On Home Plate Collisions -  "Unless the catcher is in possession of the ball, the catcher cannot block the pathway of the runner as he is attempting to score. If, in the judgment of the Umpire, the catcher without possession of the ball blocks the pathway of the runner, the Umpire shall call or signal the runner safe. Notwithstanding the above, it shall not be considered a violation of this Rule 7.13 if the catcher blocks the pathway of the runner in order to field a throw, and the Umpire determines that the catcher could not have fielded the ball without blocking the pathway of the runner and that contact with the runner was unavoidable."  I'm still confused as to how contact is avoided and who has the responsibility to get out of the way.

    FanDuel is hosting a one day, $18,000 fantasy baseball league for tonight's games. It's just $2 to join and the top prize is $2,000. Here's the link
  • Garrett Richards still has a chance: Angels, fans giving big push for pitcher Garrett Richards in Final Vote - "In the latest AL update released Wednesday morning, Richards trailed Chicago's Chris Sale but led Detroit's Rick Porcello, Cleveland's Corey Kluber and Houston's Dallas Keuchel."  Am I reading this wrong or is Miami's Casey McGehee making a subtle joke with his hashtag?:  "The hashtags and text designations are as follows:
    AL nominees
    Dallas Keuchel: #VoteKeuchel (A1)
    Corey Kluber: #VoteKluber (A2)
    Rick Porcello: #PickRick (A3)
    Garrett Richards: #VoteGRich (A4)
    Chris Sale: #TargetSale (A5)
    NL nominees
    Casey McGehee: #VoteHitsMcGehee (N1)
    Justin Morneau: #VoteMorneau (N2)
    Anthony Rendon: #VoteRendon (N3)
    Anthony Rizzo: #VoteRizzo (N4)
    Justin Upton: #VoteJUp (N5)
  • Papelbon an Angel?:
    Maybe, and then we can make funny tweets like this:
  • Jury finds Los Angeles Dodgers negligent in beating of San Francisco Giants fan Bryan Stow, absolves owner Frank McCourt - ESPN Los Angeles.  "A San Francisco Giants fan who suffered brain damage in a beating in a Dodger Stadium parking lot won his negligence lawsuit Wednesday, with a jury agreeing that the Dodgers didn't provide adequate security and were partly to blame for the attack. Bryan Stow's father said his son probably wouldn't understand the details of the settlement that will give him about $14 million from the Dodgers, "but Bryan will know that he got some help today."
  • And finally, in case you haven't heard: A.J. Pierzynski designated for assignment by Boston Red Sox - ESPN Boston.  "Boston's decision to designate Pierzynski is an indication that the Sox believe he has little or no trade value at this stage. The likelihood is that Pierzynski, who holds the major-league record for most consecutive seasons catching 110 or more games (12), will sign with another club as a backup once he clears waivers and can be signed for the $20,000 waiver price. According to a major-league source, Pierzynski definitely wants to keep playing. The Red Sox will owe Pierzynski in excess of $3.6 million for the remainder of his contract."