Desperate to find an answer to their offensive woes, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim settle in against the Toronto Blue Jays in the third of a four-game set at Angel Stadium of Anaheim tonight.
Granted, the Angels did post back-to-back shutouts earlier this week, but those came against a Minnesota team that is by far the weakest in the American League. The fact that the Angels were held scoreless last night (4-0) for the second game in a row and the sixth time in 27 games overall is more indicative of how badly the club needs a boost.
Angels hitters scattered six hits on Friday and again not one of them was by free-agent superstar Albert Pujols. A career .326 hitter who has belted 445 home runs dating back to 2001, has yet to go deep for his new team and is batting a paltry .194 with three times as many strikeouts (15) as RBI (five). Pujols has managed just eight extra-base hits over 27 games, his slugging percentage of .269 a far cry from his career mark of .611.
Also disturbing for the Angels is the season that starting pitcher Ervin Santana has had thus far, losing all six of his decisions after permitting three runs on three hits and a pair of walks, while striking out 10 in eight innings in the series opener. The right-hander has already been tagged for 11 home runs in just 38 2/3 innings.
Needless to say, with all that has gone wrong for the Angels to this point it should not come as a surprise that the squad is sitting in last place in the AL West, seven games under .500.
As for the Blue Jays, their four-game win streak has them three games out of first in the AL East, their 8-4 mark on the road one of the best in the league.
Going the distance for Toronto last night was Henderson Alvarez who evened his season record at 2-2 as he allowed six hits and a walk, striking out three, in his first career shutout.
"My sinker was working with me tonight. The defense did a great job and we're always in the right position," Alvarez said. "This is the best game I have ever pitched."
On Thursday night Brandon Morrow logged his second career shutout versus the Angels, marking the first time since 1993 that starting pitchers had notched back-to-back shutouts for the club. It is also the first time in franchise history that Toronto starting pitchers have recorded back-to-back shutouts on the road.
Offensively, Jose Bautista accounted for a two-run homer and Yunel Escobar plated one and scored a run of his own for the visitors.
Trying to get back into the win column for the Blue Jays tonight is Kyle Drabek. Since starting off 2012 with back-to-back wins at home against Boston and Baltimore, the 24-year made it through just six innings in his second straight appearance on Monday, giving up two runs on five hits and a pair of walks, while fanning a season-best eight batters in a 4-1 setback to Texas.
Drabek has pitched against the Angels twice previously but has yet to earn a decision after throwing eight innings and allowing seven earned runs on 13 hits and five walks, while striking out five.
As for the home team, left-hander C.J. Wilson is trying to deliver his second win in as many outings. The California native lasted 7 1/3 innings on Monday against Minnesota, permitting three runs on five hits in a 4-3 triumph in order to move to 3-2 on the season.
Wilson, who has been touched for six earned runs in two games at home thus far, has a record of 1-3 with three saves and a 4.26 ERA in 13 games over his career against Toronto.
The Angels pitchers are currently tied with Oakland hurlers for the most team shutouts with four, but real problem lies with the offense for the squad, or lack thereof. Los Angels is 12th in the AL in both on-base percentage (.291) and slugging (.367) and much of that has to do with the fact that the club was counting on Pujols to carry much of the load.
Since the 2009 season these two teams have been almost even, with the Angels owning a 15-14 mark versus Toronto.