Mistaken identity: Angels with power
Four homers in two games define new-look Angels
ANAHEIM -- The Los Angeles Angels always seem to stay out of step with the prevailing trend in the American League.
Just as some teams move away from power and patience -- a longtime staple of American League offense -- the Angels have lovingly embraced it.
For years, the Angels stood out for their daring base running, sporadic power and hacking ways while teams in Boston and New York loaded up with patient sluggers. Now, the Boston Red Sox and others are banking on defense and speed while the Angels look more like the 2004 Red Sox: a lineup of pulling guards.
In the first two games, the Angels have hit four home runs -- in a pitcher's park -- and walked seven times. It's hard to know who these guys are any more.
"We keep setting the table for these guys like we did tonight, we're going to be fine," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said after a 5-3 loss to the Minnesota Twins. "Tonight, we didn't get that hit that might have changed the complexion of this game, but we're feeding the middle of that order."
It was largely an evening of frustration for Angels hitters Tuesday, as they couldn't cash in on opportunities against Nick Blackburn, who didn't look all that impressive. The Angels went 1-for-7 with guys in scoring position.
And it wouldn't have mattered much anyway, as Joe Saunders had a lousy start.
The Angels couldn't hold down a dangerous Twins lineup two nights in a row. Minnesota's best hitters, Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau, both homered. Morneau's blast was high enough to clear a skyscraper on its path over the right-field wall.
Scene and heard
Gee, you think the Angels are doing much marketing around Hideki Matsui, one of Japan's biggest sports celebrities?
The team had 45,000 Matsui "Blankies," to give away Tuesday and asked everyone in the crowd to put theirs on in the fourth inning. The promotion was sponsored by Konica Minolta.
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The idea was to set a new world record, surpassing the 17,758 that wore blankets at a Cleveland Cavaliers game.
An Angels press release stated, "At that time, Guinness Book of World Records will name the event the largest gathering of people wearing fleece blankets."
Apparently, the person who wrote that never attended a game at Candlestick Park.
The fans complied with the public-address announcer, scurrying to pull their dark red blankets on in the fifth inning, and Guinness called it a record& at least until Michigan tries the stunt this fall?
Also, Japanese gold medalist marathoner Naoko Takahashi threw out a ceremonial first pitch to Matsui.
Quote of the day
"I just felt like, in the first few innings, I wasn't aggressive. In the fifth, I was aggressive, I was throwing strikes and that's the Joe Saunders we all know and love." -- Saunders
Up and comer
Fans gave Brandon Wood a nice round of applause for his single to center field in the fourth inning, his first hit of 2010. Wood had a rough night Monday, going 0-for-4 and striking out in his first three at-bats.
Wood, who had a long chat with Torii Hunter before the game, looked more comfortable on Day Two of his first chance to be an everyday major-leaguer.
He also had a ringing out to the center fielder and made an over-the-shoulder grab in foul ground on a ball hit by reigning MVP Joe Mauer.
Ervin Santana showed signs this spring that he could emerge from the pack to be the Angels' best starting pitcher. His mid-90s velocity, which had dipped in part due to elbow soreness last season, was back.
Santana embarks on his 2010 season Wednesday against Minnesota right-hander Carl Pavano, who revived his sagging career by going 5-4 with a 4.64 ERA with the Twins last year after being traded from Cleveland.
Mark Saxon covers the Angels for ESPNLosAngeles.com.