Thursday, March 31, 2011

Angels 4, Royals 2: Three up, three down

The Angels opened the season with a 4-2 win Thursday
over the Kansas City Royals.

Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Jered Weaver throws during the first inning of a baseball game against the Kansas City Royals, Thursday, March 31, 2011, in Kansas City, Mo.

The Good:

The beleaguered catcher. Remember last April, when Jeff Mathis started off hot before he broke his wrist? Well, maybe he’ll do it again, but stay healthy this time. He had two extra-base hits, including a home run, on his birthday. He threw out Chris Getz trying to steal to end the third inning and had a big collision with Matt Treanor at the plate. It was a busy day for the veteran catcher, who had a virtually identical day last year (homer, caughtJered Weaver) on Opening Day.


The ace. Weaver looked to be in midseason form, striking out six, giving up two hits and largely cruising through 6 1/3 innings. Weaver bears down well under pressure and he got out of his only jam in the fourth inning by throwing a nasty breaking ball to strike out Kila Ka’aihue. It doesn’t look as if the Angels will have a big offense, especially while Kendrys Morales is out, so Weaver’s strong first start set a good tone.

The kid. There’s really no reason Peter Bourjos should ever slump as badly as he did at the end of last season (.204). He’s too fast. Bunt singles and infield hits should buoy his average in the future. Bourjos created a run in the sixth inning by bunting for a hit and getting all the way to third after a pair of Royals throwing errors.

The Bad:

The other kid. Mark Trumbo has a big, upper-cut swing that figures to make him streaky. He was so hot all spring, so some Angels fans might not realize it. The Angels will have to be patient through the rookie first baseman’s ups and downs, but will manager Mike Scioscia let him take his lumps? Trumbo looked a little out-of-rhythm while going 0-for-4 with two strikeouts.

The lefty. The Angels don’t envision Hisanori Takahashi as strictly a left-handed specialist, but he looked like one. He came in to face lefty Ka’aihue and got him out quickly, but the next three batters – all righties – had hits. One of them was Jeff Francoeur’s home run.

The righty. Before the game, Scioscia named Kevin Jepsen the primary eighth-inning setup guy. He won’t be for long if he pitches the way he did Thursday (two walks, a HR, seven strikes in 18 pitches). Rookie Michael Kohn had to bail him out of eighth-inning jam, just as rookie Jordan Walden did for Takahashi an inning earlier

By Mark Saxon - ESPN