If you’re an Angels fan, you’ve seen this scenario time and time again: Two Halos are in scoring position, licking their chops as they eye home plate like voracious animals. They know, as well as anybody, that the name of the game is speed, and the Angels have got it. A single pretty much guarantees that two runs will score. After all, that’s Angels baseball.
But as we jaded Angels fans have come to expect, the inning will inevitably end with both of those men staring at the ground and muttering to themselves in disbelief as they jog back to the dugout.
That’s what has come to define the 2011 Angels — the inability to cash in.
The inability to sustain a solid rally is one of the key pieces missing from this Angels team, and it has fans and players alike scrambling for answers.
Here’s my suggestion: Quit swinging for the fences.
You’re probably thinking I’ve gone batty from watching inning after frustrating inning of nonexistent offense. Who in his right mind wouldn’t want to see home runs? But I assure you, I’ve seen enough out of this team to make that observation with confidence.
Yes, Torii Hunter and Alberto Callaspo went yard in back-to-back at-bats in Wednesday’s game. The Angels do have players like Mark Trumbo, Hunter and Callaspo with enough power to wallop a big fly every now and then. The problem is those players are in the minority on the team, and Howie Kendrick’s absence only intensifies the power shortage in Anaheim. Every once in a while, you expect to see a fluke Erick Aybar home run in a hitter’s ballpark. But to genuinely anticipate this lineup, composed of Maicer Izturis, Peter Bourjos and the like, can play like the big boys is a pipe dream.
If you want proof, go ahead and keep track of all the fly balls hit deep into the outfield that tail off and fall right into the outfielder’s glove.
This team is packed with warning track power and not much more. Rather, the majority of the team brings speed and aggressive baserunning, tailor made for Mike Scioscia’s trademarked brand of “Angels baseball.”
So who decided to ditch Angels baseball? Why are guys swinging so recklessly with two men on when a two-RBI single would not only plate the runs, but keep the offensive machinery going with another man on as well?
I love to see a clutch home run as much as the next guy, but it simply doesn’t fit with the identity of this Angels team. Two of the four runs scored against Oakland on Wednesday were via “small ball,” and they may have scored more had the smaller guys in the lineup not killed rallies by trying to do too much.
It’s time to embrace your status as a group of slap-hitters. Quit posing and play Angels baseball.