Angels vs. Yankees: 20-game watch

                  W-L    R/G  AB/HR PA/BB SB CS AVG    OBP    SLG
ANGELS    9-11    5.1    36.6    11.7    21    3    .280    .343    .425
YANKEES  11-9    5.8    24.2    9.4    16     2    .275    .355    .464
                 ERA    RA    H/9    BB/9    SO/9  HR/9  OAVG  OOBP OSLG
ANGELS    4.81    5.42    10.5    3.3    5.7    1.0    .295    .355    .421
YANKEES  5.64    6.09    9.1    3.8    7.3    1.3    .265    .347    .451

When was the last time the Yankees played the Angels in a four-game series and you felt like it wasn’t going to be an uphill battle the entire time? It feels like decades. Last year, the Yankees went 3-7 against the Angels, 3-6 the year before, 4-6 the year before, 4-6 in 2005… The Yankees went 6-3 against them in 2003, and that’s the last time they’ve been able to touch them. The year before that, the Angels manhandled the Yankees out of the playoffs, so even 2003 was very much an island in a stream of blood.

angels_250.jpgThis time things would seem to be different. The Angels took a few steps backwards over the winter. Though Kendry Morales is crazy hot right now (.379/.419/.862, three homers over the last seven games), he’s not a replacement for Mark Teixeira. Brian Fuentes isn’t K-Rod. Injuries are a huge problem. Mike Napoli can’t stay in the lineup. Vlad Guerrero is out for the long haul, and Gary Matthews is having to play every day. Neither Erick Aybar nor Chone Figgins are hitting, but manager Mike Scioscia won’t give Brandon Wood a try, not that he’s a lock to hit with any consistency given his big swing and middling strike zone judgment.

The pitching has been dramatically thinned by injury as well as the tragic death of Nick Adenhart. The Yankees are going to see only two of the team’s top starters in this series, Jered Weaver in Game 2 and Joe Saunders in Game 4. Anthony Ortega is a rookie without a strikeout pitch. Matt Palmer is a 30-year-old journeyman who has been in the minors since 2002. He too has strikeout rates that are unsustainable in the major leagues. The Yankees should be able to go three-for-four against the Angels. It won’t be easy, it never is, but they’re not the special team they once were.

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