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Tuesday Halolinks: Offense can't figure out Norris, strike zone

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First place Orioles use wide zone to beat second place Halos.

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Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Time to head into the second half of the 2014 baseball season.  Those 4 days off prior to last weekend were tough, but get ready for the next 2-and-a-half months because it's going to be exciting.

Here are a few quick notes from the Angels' game notes, and one I added on my own:

- Major League Baseball drew a total of 1,665,275 fans to ballparks this past weekend, which was the league’s largest weekend attendance in nearly five years…Angel Stadium hosted 119,876 fans over the weekend.

- 30 of club’s 59 victories are in comeback fashion (13 wins have been overcoming 2+ run deficits, nine have been 3+ run and three have been 4+ run)…30 comeback wins lead Majors

- On Friday, the Angels acquired veteran closer and two-time All-Star Huston Street from the Padres (and RHP Trevor Gott) in exchange for four minor league players… Since 2011, Street has converted 109 of 117 save opps for a 93.2% save pct, best mark among all relievers over span (min. 50 SVO)…This season with SD, he converted 24 of 25 saves
while sporting a 1.09 ERA (4th among NL relievers).

- Kevin Jepsen has allowed just one earned run over his last 29.2 IP spanning 33 games (0.31 ERA, 10 BB, 33 K)

- Don't look now, but Angels' third baseman David Freese is hitting .324 over the last 30 days.  Freese has gone 24-for-74, with 3 home runs and 16 RBI.

  • Headlining in the All-Star Lanes lounge and playing your favorite rock 'n roll oldies; Bud Norris and the Strike Zone.  The Grand Slam: Adam Jones hits two homers, beats Angels all by himself - Big League Stew - Yahoo Sports.  "Shoemaker, the Los Angeles Angels rookie starting pitcher, struck out 10 Orioles in 5 2/3 innings Monday night and he only gave up three hits to Baltimore batters not named Adam Jones. Oh, but Adam Jones. Jones launched a pair of two-run homers off Shoemaker, one in the first and one in the sixth. The second one ended Shoemaker's night and was also the difference in the O's 4-2 victory."  Me and Mrs., Mrs. Jones, Mrs. Jones, Mrs. Jones.  Gotta thing...goin' on.  (Yeah, well knock it off).
  • "This next one is off our new album.  It just came out this week.  The song is called "Surrender". Angels can't keep up with Jones - The Orange County Register.  "Jones smacked the first in the first when Shoemaker left a 2-0 fastball in the middle of the plate. The 27-year-old rookie pitcher knew it was gone before Jones finished his follow-through, putting his glove up to accept a new ball immediately. "My first instinct was, ‘OK, don’t swing,’" Shoemaker said. "Then he swung and I was like, ‘Well, I’m not even turning around.’"
  • Downtown.  Where everything's great, we'll go downtown. Baltimore Orioles at Los Angeles Angels - July 21, 2014 - MLB.com.  "So the Angels took the loss, just their 17th in 51 games at home and just their third in the last 15 games overall. Shoemaker struck out a career-high-tying 10 batters and at one-point retired 15 straight, immediately after Jones' two-run homer in the first and leading up to Nick Markakis' one-out double in the sixth. Two batters later, Jones clobbered his 19th home run of the year to give the Orioles a two-run lead, and one batter after that, Shoemaker exited after having thrown just 91 pitches."
  • If it feels this good being used, just keep on using me, until you use me up. Angels have no plans to shut down Richards - angels.com.  "Richards has pitched into September each of the last three seasons. And though his volume of innings is much greater this season, Richards says his arm responds better to the routine of a starting pitcher as opposed to the back-and-forth from the rotation to the bullpen he's gone through the last couple of years. "The more consistent I stay with my routine, the better I feel," Richards said. "Throwing 100 pitches every five days and getting my bullpen in between, that's when I feel my best.
  • John Hester has a pinochle partner (The band took a break, so I'm done with the music stuff): Angels sign John Buck to minor league contract - HardballTalk.  "Veteran catcher John Buck was given his release by the Mariners earlier this month, but he didn’t stay out of a job for long. Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com brings word that the Angels have signed Buck to a minor league contract. He has been assigned to Triple-A Salt Lake."
  • There's not much the club can do to acquire a front-line starter after giving up 4 of their top prospect from a crappy minor league system, except dealing someone from their major league roster: Angels' rotation may be their weak link - Los Angeles Angels Blog - ESPN Los Angeles.  "To catch the A’s, the Angels are going to need not just one guy but several guys to step up down the stretch. Not just because you can’t count on a league-best offense to crank out five or more runs every night, but because the Angels need to have somebody else besides Richards to use in those potentially scary end-of-year situations. What if Richards has to pitch in the last weekend series against the Mariners but the Angels don’t catch the A’s then? What if they have to play a tiebreaker? Who pitches the wild-card game? Where does that leave them in the ALDS? They’ll need some of the non-Richards starters to step up, not just to keep up with the A’s and their shored-up rotation, but to be able to win October games when they don’t put five or six runs on the scoreboard."
  • Your face is an accident: Angels' Cowgill on the mend after scary injury - The Orange County Register.  "It’s baseball," he said. "Accidents happen. It’s just unfortunate it happened to my face."
  • "Flashlight?  Help me find my keys and we'll drive out of here."  GM Andy Milovich of Myrtle Beach Pelicans offers to get prostate exam during game - ESPN.  "Last week, Milovich was promoting Thursday night's game, which has a prostate cancer awareness focus, when a reporter for a morning talk show asked him if he was willing to get a prostate exam at the game." 
  • I know this is about a Red Sox draftee, but it's still a good read: Former first-round pick Karsten Whitson focused on proving value after 11th-round selection - Over the Monster.  "After a lot of deliberation, Whitson did something that most probably could not do: he turned down the money and decided to go to school. While at Florida, Whitson's college experience on the field was not great. The righty missed the entire 2013 season after shoulder surgery. Whiston went in the 37th round with the 1,126th overall selection to the Washington Nationals in the 2013 MLB Draft. Instead of signing, Whitson decided one again to return to school, eventually being chosen in the 11th round to the Red Sox and signing for a $100,000 bonus. Sure, Whitson lost nearly $2 million dollars by going to college, but the now 22-year-old has no regrets."
  • FanDuel has been pretty good to me.  Since SBNation and the daily fantasy site partnered up two weeks ago, I've managed to win a little over $1000.  You can join the fun here; FanDuel Daily Games