Douglas Benton. 16th April, 2011 - 3:42 am
The Los Angeles Angels took two out of three games at home from the Cleveland Indians, which came in with a 7-2 record. Indians starter Mitch Talbot started it off with eight shutout innings in the opener while Angels’ right-hander Dan Haren followed it up with a complete game shutout in game two.
Los Angeles Angels:
With a complete game, one hit shutout of the Indians, Haren now has 12.2 straight innings of scoreless ball in compiling a 3-0 record with a 0.73 ERA. His stuff was good on Tuesday in getting 16 swings and misses while striking out eight to two walks. Haren came over from the Arizona Diamondbacks and in his first full year with the Angels, his presence at the top of the rotation could be enough to put them over the top in the AL West.
Angels’ designated hitter Bobby Abreu has always been known as one of the most patient hitters at the plate and it was on full display in this series. He went 2-for-7 with a double and drew six walks in seeing 64 pitches over the three games. The 37 year old is currently No. 3 in on-base percentage at .518. He is also hitting .357 in the middle of the order for the Angels.
One of the biggest off-season accusations, outfielder Vernon Wells is off to a very slow start for the Angels. He played on Monday and Wednesday in going 1-for-9 with a run scored, which leaves him 5-for-49 on the year with 13 strikeouts. The Angels don’t need their offense to do much with their strong starting pitching, but they need Wells to start hitting to solidify the batting order.
Talbot got the series off on the right foot with eight shutout innings in giving up five hits, two walks and striking out four batters. The 27 year old right-hander is now 1-0 with a 1.46 ERA as he tries to breakthrough after compiling an 11-13 career record. Not overpowering, Talbot relied on keeping the ball down in the zone to get 14 ground balls out of his 24 outs.
When he came to Cleveland back in 2008, first baseman Matt LaPorta was considered one of the top pieces coming back to the Indians in the trade of lefty ace CC Sabathia to the Milwaukee Brewers. Against Los Angeles, he went 1-for-11 with a home run and three RBI to lower his season average to .189. While he still has less than 600 career MLB at-bats, LaPorta is 26 years old and fair or not, he needs to start hitting from a power position.
The Indians are off to a surprising 8-4 start and the main question is if they can sustain it in a division without a dominant team? While the offense grades out as average to below average thus far, the starting staff has logged nine quality starts in 12 games and have the third lowest opponents’ batting average at .210. There are still too many questions throughout the roster to call the Indians a solid contender, but they are playing well in the second year under manager Manny Acta.