Monday, July 18, 2005

The great thing about the Twin series is we took it from them with almost everything going wrong. Vlad and Garret were nonfactors, and Bartolo got knocked around in his only start. Still, we took three of four from a pretty good team, and had some very good starts and bullpen work to seal the deal. So that's all good.

Just to catch up on some news ... as I'm sure you know, Alberto Callaspo was promoted to AAA and Howie Kendrick to AA. The assumption is that Erick Aybar and Brandon Wood can't be too far behind them; it's not like David Matranga has a stranglehold on the AAA shortstop job.

Kendrick went 2-5 in his first AA game, pretty much picking up where he left off at Rancho Cucamonga (384/421/638). With Kendrick and Morales gone and Wood likely soon on his way out, it looks like I've waited too long to make a trip out to Rancho to see a game. Oh, well, there's always Jered Weaver ... who picked up another win over the weekend to make his record 3-1 and lower his ERA to 4.85. His strikeout-to-walk ratio is a sick 39-to-5 in 26 innings ... okay, maybe Jered won't be there too much longer, either.

On the major league level, the Lads now have three games at home against the Oakland Athletic Club. Tonight will be yet another test for Ervin Santana, with even the LA Times saying two bad starts might mean the end of his rotation time in 2005. He's got the talent to pull it off, but I'm not holding my breath. The following two games will be difficult in that we'll have to face Rich Harden and his 2.23 ERA and a somewhat resurgent Barry Zito. The A's are only seven-and-a-half games out, and are only a half-game behind Texas in second place.

This series means more to the A's than to the Angels, which puts the Angels in a dangerous position. You can never underestimate a talented team playing with its back to the wall, and Oakland knows that they're just one more hot streak out of the division race. We need to see the Angel bats come around, especially in the middle of the order, to beat these guys up and put a big dent in their already remote postseason hopes.

The thing that bothers me a lot is that the A's have straightened out their rotation. The Angels have been above their heads with their starters, and I expect that will come around to bite them on this trip. Expect to see:

1) Cabrera get too many at bats.
2) Izturis misplay a couple of balls.
3) Vlad and Anderson continue their slump.
4) The final and deciding bad outing by Santana.
Whattya mean "already remote playoff hopes"?

We're two and a half games back in the Wild Card. You guys made up three games in a week or two last year. Oakland's not a threat to do that in two and a half months?

To say nothing of the possibility that if the three games break Oakland's way, we're only 4 1/2 back with pretty much that same 2+ months left to go.
Yeah, I should have said "divisional" hopes, which are relatively remote. But the wildcard chances are of course very real ...
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