The good news? The Angels are guaranteed not to lose any games for a few days. The better news? We get to find out if Mike Trout can add to his fleet and win an unprecedented third consecutive All Star Game MVP! Let's head into the break in style with some links, shall we?
Orioles 4, Angels 2. Any encouragement we may have felt after disposing of the Rays quickly eroded at the hands of the O's. Tim Lincecum did some damage control into the sixth inning for the first time in his last four starts. While still fun to watch, The Freak is clearly still the same guy we saw the last two years in San Francisco, even with his health. By disposing of the Angels the last two days, Baltimore held off the Red Sox and head into the All Star break with a two-game lead in the AL East.
Our Angels, meanwhile, now sit 37-52, last place in the AL West. This will be the first time since 2013 that the club will head into the All Star break with a losing record. We have to reach all the way back 1992, the year of the team's mid-May bus accident that plummeted the season, to find a year where the Angels entered the All Star break with a worse record, at 35-52. Yes, it really has been that bad.
Yunel-tude: Yunel Escobar was ejected in the seventh inning for drawing a home plate in the infield dirt as a protest to a non-called strike against Chris Davis.
Yunel Escobar declined to speak to reporters after today's loss. "F*** that s***," he said when asked to answer questions.— Pedro Moura (@pedromoura) July 10, 2016
Dead-end Street: Huston Street, whose forgettable season could be seen as a microcosm of the Angels' season as a whole, was removed in the ninth inning with an apparent hamstring issue. While it would appear to be for precautionary reasons, it is just another hiccup for the veteran closer, who many were hoping would come on strong after his last trip the the DL, allowing Billy Eppler to dangle him as a valuable trade chip. As it stands right now, with a 5.09 ERA and embarrassingly as many walks as strike outs, Eppler might be best served hanging on to Street and hope he can re-establish some value by next season's trade deadline.
He's got legs!: We all know Mike Trout can run, bro. While he has evolved into more of a power power bat the last few seasons with diminishing stolen base numbers, Trout's foot speed has still acted as a valuable facet of his game, both in center field and on the base paths. So you are forgiven if you haven't noticed that MNT is once again an elite base runner, swiping 15/16 bags thus far on the year, including his first theft of home plate in his career.
"Crunch the numbers and you'll find that gives him a 93.8% success rate on the season which leads all players this season with 10 or more steals. It's also served to further establish Trout's place on the all-time leaderboard..." That would be fifth all time in SB success rate, behind Chase Utley, Carlos Beltran, Jason Werth and Jarrod Dyson (minimum 100 SB). Author Corinne Landrey points out that Utley and Werth's place on that list are instructive, as many times the game's most successful stolen base artists are not necessarily the fastest, but the smartest. She goes on to outline each of his stolen bags this year, pointing out that all but two have been the result of getting a good read on the pitcher and picking the perfect time to run. Hopefully, this is a skill Trout can continue to hone and keep the SB in his tool kit for many years to come, even as he slows down.
Everywhere In Baseball
Derby time: Angel fan-favorite Mark Trumbo is the top seed in this year's home run derby, today at 5:00 PM (Pacific) in San Diego. Trumbo has maintained his hot start to the year, pacing the league with 28 HR at the break. Trumbo is also leading the league in total bases, taking full advantage of Camden Yard's friendly confines.
World Futures 11, US Futures 3: Yoan Moncada was named MVP of the Futures Game on Sunday, hitting a two-run jack into the upper deck during the eighth inning to put his team ahead. You may remember that many of us clamored for Arte Moreno to pony up for Moncada after his defection from Cuba, when they elected instead to put all their eggs in the Roberto Baldoquin basket...
The Duffle Bag
As we await Billy Eppler getting real about this teams chances this year, the other Billy in the Bay Area is already fielding calls for outfielder Josh Reddick... Madison Bumgarner was oh-so-close to his first career no-no, for the third time... Michael Saunders was nearly an Angel, and (of course) he is now an All Star... Congratulations to my family back in Portugal, who got to witness their team win a major championship for the first time in history...
(Friday's chart was the Team fWAR totals to date for the AL. At first glance it may seem odd that the Angels score so high in productivity when their actual record is so poor. The difference is Michael Nelson Trout. Here is Monday's.)