The Skies Brighten: 4/30

A win Monday against the Jays, a sweep of the A’s and a series win against the Rangers transformed an 8-12 team to one that now stands at 14-13. There may still be more dark clouds ahead but the five game winning streak couldn’t have arrived at a more welcome time. Jesse Chavez redeemed himself for his loss in relief with a strong outing against the team who had beat him several days earlier. For the most part Chavez has pitched effectively this season and has fulfilled expectations for a number five starter.

The Angels hitting continues to be a source of concern with only Trout, Simmons, and Maldonado performing on the level expected of them hitting-wise. The Angels .195 team BA in the latter half of the month is a major source of concern. Not surprisingly, three of the Angels wins this week came while scoring but 2 runs. Given that the Angels are without three of their top starters (Richards, Heaney, Tropeano) and that the bullpen is being pieced together with fingers crossed, this failure to put runs on the board is not going to be a formula that might lead to success. Helping in this week’s turnaround has been the hitting of Kole Calhoun who batted .344 in the past 7 games. Also of note is the excellent pitching of Bud Norris who is 5-5 in save situations after signing with the Angels as a free Agent in February.

Aside from the team’s success, there were significant personal achievements this week. Albert Pujols, who began the season with 1,817 RBI, knocked in run number 22 of the season and with a sacrifice fly on Saturday in Arlington, tied Ted Williams for 13th place on the all-time career RBI list. Earlier this season, Pujols passed Al Simmons, Manny Ramirez, Dave Winfield, Rafael Palmiero, and Ken Griffey. Next on the list are Carl Yaztrzemski (1,844), Mel Ott (1,860), and Willie Mays (1903). If Pujols drives in 100 runs this season, he’d tie Eddie Murray (1,917) for 9th, all-time. Only five players in the history of baseball have 2,000 RBI or more.

With the Halo victory on Tuesday, Mike Scioscia notched victory number 1,500. That achievement ranks him 22nd on the all-time managerial win list. As Scioscia’s wins have come exclusively with the Angels, he stands fifth among managers whose wins have come while managing but one team. Ex-Dodger manager Tom Lasorda ranks fourth in wins while managing but a single team (1,599), Walter Alston is third, John McGraw second, and Connie Mack first. Scioscia was hired to manage the Angels in 2000. He replaced Joe Maddon who had taken over as interim manager during the ’99 season when current Mets manager Terry Collins resigned.

Mike Trout is off to a torrid start this season. At week’s end on Sunday, he’s riding a 14-game hitting streak and has hit safely in 26 of 27 games this season. His batting average stands at .364, and his OBP is .443. He has 9 doubles, 7 homers, 18 RBI, an OPS of 1.151, and is at or near the top of the league in virtually all major categories including runs scored, hits, WAR, total bases and stolen bases. No surprise then that Trout was selected as the AL MVP for the month of April. This is his fourth monthly MVP tying him with all-time Angel great Chuck Finley for most monthly MVP wins.

The Angels ended the week, and the month of April taking two of three from the struggling Rangers whose hitting has been abysmal. Unfortunately, the injuries keep piling up. Both C.J. Cron and Tyler Skaggs were put on the 10 day DL. The Angels have now placed 11 men on the DL since the beginning of the season; 10 remain sidelined. Over the past five years, the Halos have escaped April only once with a winning record. Sunday’s win brought that record to 2 in 6.