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1979 Angels review, Week 2: Brian Downing & the pitching staff on fire

Angels ended the week with a five-game winning streak

MLB Photos Archive Photo by Rich Pilling/MLB Photos via Getty Images

We are chronicling every week of the 1979 Angels season, looking back at the first division winner in franchise history. Last week covered the opening series, a four-game split in Seattle. Now the Angels are back home, at least for part of the week. Here’s a look back at the week from April 9-15, 1979.

The good

The offense was blistering, averaging more than seven runs a game, including at least seven runs in each of the last five games of the week, all wins.

Brian Downing was in the middle of the action, going 12-for-23 (.522) with seven runs scored during the week. The Angels catcher had four multi-hit games, including a five-hit game on Sunday in Oakland, hitting three doubles against the A’s. Downing was 9-for-14 in the series, a sweep that saw the Angels outscore Oakland 27-5.

Rod Carew had a four-hit game Sunday in Oakland, hitting his first home run of the season while driving in four. Bobby Grich drove in nine with his three home runs and two doubles, and has a six-game hitting streak.

When Dan Ford injured his knee, Don Baylor slid into right field, opening up the designated hitter spot for Willie Aikens, who thrived in his first week of duty. The left-hander had multi-hit games his first three times out, and for the week was 6-for-18 (.333) with two homers, two doubles, seven RBI, and five runs scored in four games.

Nolan Ryan struck out 10 on Wednesday against the Twins, the first of three consecutive complete games by the Angels (Chris Knapp and Don Aase followed). Halos starting pitchers rebounded after an awful opening series to post a 1.65 ERA in 49 innings this week, averaging over eight innings per start. Frank Tanana, who allowed only four runs in his two starts, was the relative slacker of the group, lasting only seven innings in each of his games.

The bad

Ford injured his knee in Tuesday’s home opener loss to Minnesota. He was 1-for-3 with two walks in the game. The injury comes after a scorching start for Ford, who is 7-for-19 with three home runs, two doubles, and four walks in the early going of 1979, hitting .368/.478/.947.

Leadoff man and center fielder Rick Miller was just 4-for-25 (.160) though he also walked five times.

The Angels bullpen was seldom used last week, and really the only negative from the pitching staff was Jim Barr’s outing on Tuesday. He allowed five runs in relief in the home opener, allowing the Twins to break open a close game late.

Weekly summary

5-1 record
46 runs scored (7.67 per game)
16 runs allowed (2.67 per game)
.874 pythagorean record

Year-to-date summary

7-3 record
68 runs scored (6.80 per game)
44 runs allowed (4.40 per game)
.689 pythagorean record

AL West standing: 3rd place, ½ game back (trailing Texas and Minnesota)

Game results

Up next

The Angels have an inverse schedule for Week 3, playing the Twins on the road for three games followed by four games against the A’s in Anaheim, the latter the start of a 12-game homestand.