April 28, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers left fielder Carl Crawford (25) and the Dodgers celebrate the 2-0 victory against the Milwaukee Brewers at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Angels and Dodgers: An Assessment of the Baseball Season's First Month

April 23, 2013; Anaheim, CA, USA; Los Angeles Angels second baseman Howie Kendrick (47) hits a walk off solo home run in the eleventh inning against the Texas Rangers at Angel Stadium of Anaheim. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

 

It always goes way too fast, doesn’t it?

It’s hard to believe that the first month of the major league baseball season is already done, with roughly 25 games having been played among the 30 MLB teams.

And although it’s still fairly early and the baseball season – at 162 games – is a marathon rather than a sprint, it’s also hard to believe that the two teams that call the Los Angeles area home have not begun the season very well, especially after the pundits chose them to be major contenders.

I won’t waste any more time – here’s how L.A.’s two big league clubs stand as May approaches, starting with the American League representative of the nation’s second largest city, the:

LOS ANGELES ANGELS OF ANAHEIM

Current Record: 9-15

4th place in the American League West

6 1/2 games out of first place

Can anyone say, “Deja Vu all over again?”

A year after these Angels won just six of their first 20 games, they – despite adding a devastating slugger in Josh Hamilton – are struggling at the onset again as to date Mike Scioscia’s club has won a mere nine of their first 25 contests, losing three out of four in Seattle on their recent trip.

Indeed, if it wasn’t for their new A.L. division foes, the Houston Astros, this team would have “Last Place” and “The Cellar’ written all over them.

Speaking of Hamilton, this prize free agent signing hasn’t done much at all so far, batting a puny .219 (which is actually an improvement over the first couple of weeks!) while hitting but two home runs and not even reaching double digits in RBIs as of yet as Hamilton has solidified his reputation as being VERY vulnerable against left-handed pitchers; just stick a lefty on the mound against him, and more often than not he will fan.

Apr 24, 2013; Anaheim, CA, USA; Los Angeles Angels shortstop Brendan Harris (20) makes a throw to first base for an out in the first inning of the game against the Texas Rangers at Angel Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

The main factor in the Halos’ sub-par play has been their pitching, as a collective “Oh no!!!” went up among the Angel faithful the moment ace Jered Weaver’s elbow cracked against the Texas Rangers while trying to avoid a line drive.

C.J. Wilson leads the Angel starters with two wins, and Garret Richards has been decent with his 3.65 ERA, but Jason Vargas hasn’t won a game yet as his ERA is 4.85.

The pitching staff’s overall Earned Run Average? 4.72 – which won’t get it done at any level, let alone in “The Show”.

On a more encouraging note, Mark Trumbo, Howie Kendrick, and particularly Peter Bourjos have hit well for the Angels, with Bourjos coming onto his own at the plate as the speedy center fielder leads the team in hitting with his .329 average.

The message is clear, however: if these Angels from Orange County are going to fulfill expectations and be a real contender for the post-season, they need to get hot.

And fast.

Starting this week when they travel north to Oakland for a three-game series with the always tough Athletics.

Now to check out how the Halos’ National League rivals are doing, the:

LOS ANGELES DODGERS

Current Record: 12-12

4th place in the National League West

2 1/2 games out of first place

You have to give these Dodgers credit for one thing – after all the hype with their over $200 million payroll and their slow start, they have done well to reach the .500 mark.

Coming out of spring training, the Dodgers had an embarrassment of riches in starting pitching, with eight legitimate starters vying for five spots.

April 28, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw (22) returns to the dugout after the fifth inning against the Milwaukee Brewers at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

That’s an ancient memory now as among those eight guys, three are hurt – one, big free agent Zach Greinke, with a broken collarbone courtesy of the San Diego Padres’ Carlos Quentin, one, Chris Capuano, with a strained calf, and one, Chad Billingsley, being forced to undergo Tommy John surgery on his elbow and will be out until next season at the earliest.

Plus one is in Seattle as Aaron Harang is now a Mariner.

Clayton Kershaw has taken up the slack quite nicely, striking out 12 Milwaukee Brewers in his last outing while sporting a 1.73 ERA, and Brandon League has saved eight out of his first nine opportunities.

The problem with these Dodgers – the biggest reason why they are only 12 and 12 – has been their hitting, particularly in the early going as their average with runners in scoring position has been near the bottom of the league.

Matt Kemp needs to be given props for raising his average to .261 after a pathetic, strike out filled start, but he needs to continue that improvement if the Dodgers are to reach expectations.

The man for Don Mattingly’s team, who in essence is the MVP for L.A. baseball after this first month, is Carl Crawford as he is – to be blunt – on fire after having been out so long with those elbow troubles, batting .307 and leading the team with four home runs, including two against the Brewers at Dodger Stadium on April 28th, leading them to a 2-0 win and taking two out of three games from Milwaukee.

Adrian Gonzalez has been great as well with his .337 average, 17 RBIs and 29 hits, his RBI and hit totals leading the team.

A big challenge awaits these Dodgers as the surprising Colorado Rockies, who are tied for first place with Arizona, come to Dodger Stadium for a three-game set this week.

L.A. can make a real move this week, but they much seize the opportunity.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tags: Los Angeles Angels Los Angeles Dodgers Major League Baseball

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