Angels’ rotation continues to roll in 2-1 win over Athletics
Their names will not strike fear into opposing batters. Their numbers are underwhelming. There is not an ace in the bunch, probably not a real No. 2.
Yet after a rough stretch, the Angels’ rotation is performing well, performing better than all but the most blinded of red-clad fans could expect.
They are suddenly giving their team a chance to win almost every night, and Thursday it was Ricky Nolasco’s turn, the right-hander helping the Angels to a 2-1 victory over the Oakland Athletics at Angel Stadium.
Nolasco, who had gone eight days between starts to fine-tune his mechanics, held Oakland to one run in 52/3 innings. He gave up three hits and walked two while striking out four.
It kept with the rotation’s unexpected turnaround. The Angels’ starting pitchers have not allowed more than two earned runs in 12 of their last 13 games (2.10 ERA).
“We’re very confident in what that group of guys can do,” said Angels manager Mike Scioscia. “To start the season we stubbed our toes a little bit. We had a couple rough starts. But our guys have settled in and given us a chance to win on a nightly basis. That’s been key. I think their length will get there as we get into the season.”
An Angels team that had lost nine of 10 games has now four straight and five of six.
The Angels gave Nolasco (2-2) a quick lead to work with, and then nothing else, scoring twice in the first inning against Oakland right-hander Kendall Graveman (2-1).
C.J. Cron, back in the lineup after sitting for three games to address his offensive struggles, lined a double to right-center to score Pujols and the Angels were up 2-0.
Nolasco, meanwhile, breezed through his first three innings, allowing only one single. The A’s got to him for a run in the fourth when Jed Lowrie doubled to right and Yonder Alonso singled.
The Angels had an opportunity to pad their lead in the fifth, but were done in by an unassisted double play by Graveman.
Ben Revere singled and took third on a Cliff Pennington hit. Catcher Juan Graterol hit a comebacker to Graveman. Revere broke on contact and was caught half way down the third-base line. Graveman ran him down, tagged him out near the bag and then leapt over him and A’s third baseman Ryon Healy to apply another tag on the sliding Pennington.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen that before,” Scioscia said.
Nolasco ran into trouble in the sixth after giving up a pair of two-out walks. He should have been out of the inning when Alonso bounced to Pennington, but the second baseman dropped it for an error to load the bases.
Scioscia went to his new strikeout specialist, Blake Parker, who did just that. He struck out Healy on three pitches. In 102/3 innings this season, Parker has 18 strikeouts. Relievers David Hernandez and Jose Alvarez each threw a perfect inning before Scioscia turned the ninth over to his new surprise closer, Bud Norris.
Norris gave up a one-out walk to Alonso, before retiring the side to pick up his fourth save in as many opportunities and give the Angels a sweep of the three-game series and even their record at 12-12.
“He’s walking around like a closer,” Scioscia said of Norris. “He’s filling the role and doing a great job.”
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