Thursday, July 06, 2006

Angelic Fireworks! Orlando Cabrera and Bartolo Colon Light the Heat Under the Halos

Regular readers here at Burkean Reflections may have read my "Inaugural Post," in which I mentioned that I might occasionally take a break of political blogging to write on my beloved Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Today seems like as good a day as any to make good on that suggestion. I took a break from work and blogging last night to catch the Angels-Mariners game, broadcast live from Seattle. It was one of the best games I've seen in a while, which is a strong statement as the Angels on Wednesday came off of their best comeback all season in their 14-6 July 4th win over the Mariners at Safeco Field.

In last night's game, Bartolo Colon gained his first win of the season in a dominating, 9-inning shut-out performance. Colon's return to the lineup should bolster a starting rotation that has been electrified with the breakout pitching of Jered Weaver. Also spectacular was Orlando Cabrera's fifth inning home run, which extended his consecutive hit streak to 62 games.

Bill Shaiken at the Los Angeles Times has the story:

The first half has been a lost half for the Angels, too many weeks looking up at too many teams from the bottom of the American League West. But the Angels might have the last laugh. After Bartolo Colon completed their first sweep of the season Wednesday by pitching his first shutout in four years, a 4-0 victory over Seattle, the Angels flew to Oakland for a four-game series. If the Angels win them all, they could share first place with the Athletics at the All-Star break, even after spotting their rivals half the season." We know how to finish divisions," pitcher John Lackey said. "We've done it the last couple times. Letting us stay in it this long might be a problem for them in the end."

Robb Quinlan hit a three-run home run and Orlando Cabrera a solo shot as the Angels finished the sweep of the Mariners. Colon, who won 21 games and the Cy Young Award last season, won for the first time this season. The Angels have won five consecutive games, a season high, cutting three games from their deficit in five days. They're four games under .500 and in last place, trailing the A's by four, Texas by 2 1/2 and Seattle by one. But, with Colon and Jered Weaver back in the rotation and Lackey, Ervin Santana and Kelvim Escobar pitching well, the Angels have a potentially dominant starting five. And, with five players not named Vladimir Guerrero or Garret Anderson hitting home runs in this series, they have a hint of offensive depth.

"What gives us optimism, really, is the way we're getting contributions from everybody in the lineup," Manager Mike Scioscia said. That helps, of course, but the most significant performance Wednesday was delivered by Colon. In his fourth start since returning from the disabled list, he showed he can win even if his never regains his premium fastball. "Not having the fastball is an adjustment for me," Colon said through an interpreter. After the shoulder surgery he suffered in October, the fastballs that used to buzz in at 95-97 mph now come in at 89-93 mph. But Colon buried the Mariners under an avalanche of sinking fastballs, using movement and precision to more than make up for the loss of velocity." It was moving all over the place," catcher Mike Napoli said. "He can be effective not pumping it up at 95."

Colon gave up four hits, none after the fourth inning. He made 91 pitches, striking out two and walking none. He felt good, not only because of the shutout but because of a pregame phone call with his father, who he said is fighting a minor illness. In the conversation, he said, his father calmed him. Colon pitched two complete games last year, but he said he did not recall his last shutout. That's understandable, since he pitched the shutout for a team that no longer exists, the Montreal Expos.
Angels fans are obviously hoping that the sweep of Seattle marks the turn-around point for the Angels' season. Tonight the Halos start a four-game road trip at the Oakland Athletics, a series that could shake up the standings in the American League West. For more Angels baseball, check out this cool blog, "The Halo Herald."


Unknown said...

Bah... the Padres rule!!!!!!

Donald Douglas said...

Thanks for visiting, Jenn. Go Angels!