2009 MLB American League West Notebook
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim manager Mike Scioscia does not get near enough credit for the way he handles a starting pitching staff.
Consider what he has dealt with through the first month and a half. He lost four starters because of injury, had to call up a 30-year-old rookie and kept his fingers crossed that this would keep his team afloat.
Well, it all worked out.
Through the first 33 games, the patchwork staff that was comprised of the likes of 30-year-old Matt Palmer and Shane Loux furnished the American League's best starting pitching ERA of 3.52 and a very impressive 15-6 record.
And now, the rotation is getting back to full strength. Ervin Santana returned on May 14 and threw five pretty good innings against Boston. Right-hander John Lackey returns May 16 at Texas.
Los Angeles came into the weekend trailing Texas by 1 1/2 games and visits the Rangers this weekend in Arlington. But the return of these starters returns the Angels to division favorite status.
The Rangers definitely have a point to prove in their series against the Angels this weekend at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.
One of the ways they will do it is by wearing their red jerseys all weekend. Of course, that works against the Halos because red is a dominant theme color for the Angels.
But one person who is proving his point is left-hander Matt Harrison. The 23-year-old is on a career-best 4-game winning streak and has a nifty 1.80 ERA during the streak. He has improved to 4-2 with a 4.23 ERA after a rough beginning. At one time, he had thrown 22 consecutive scoreless innings, nine shy of the club record of 31 set by Kenny Rogers in 2005. He has also thrown consecutive complete games.
One of the major problems in the Mariners' 1-9 slide is their inability to hit with runners in scoring position. Through the first 25 games, the M's hit .324 in that department.
However, the Mariners' have just stopped. Through this nightmarish portion of the season, they are hitting just .174 (12-for-69) with runners in scoring position. And what was 2 1/2 game lead to start this stretch has turned into a 4 1/2 game hole.
Given the challenges this offense faces to score runs, this is pretty precarious time for the Mariners to remain in contending status.
The A's haven't been very good this season as they sat in last place when they began a weekend series in Detroit.
And when it comes to scouting reports, teams will do all they can to load up left-handed starters against them. The A's were a major league-worst 3-11 (.214) against the southpaws. They must have felt like they were catching a break against the Tigers because Detroit was not scheduled to throw a left-hander against them.
One other area where the A's are going bad is that they have to string together a three-game winning streak. They have back-to-back games on five different occasions. But that's it.
By Kevin Lonnquist
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