Tony Gwynn: Early season surprises
A day after snapping a three-game losing streak, Guerrero and the Angels try to earn a split of their four-game series with the Baltimore Orioles on Monday at Camden Yards.
Guerrero, who has hit more than 30 home runs in every season since 1998, entered Sunday’s game with a .425 batting average but no extra-base hits since homering on opening day. He changed that with a 3-for-5 effort, including homers in the first and seventh innings of a game the Angels won 9-3.
“Every time I go up to the plate all I am looking for is to make solid contact. That will never change regardless of whether I have one home run or no home runs,” Guerrero said through an interpreter after improving his season average to .444. “I never go up looking for the home run.”
Sunday’s nine runs and 13 hits were both season highs for Los Angeles (6-6). Guerrero’s first-inning solo shot marked the eighth time in 12 games the Angels scored at least once in the opening frame.
While Guerrero’s power had been absent since opening day, so had the speed of utilityman Chone Figgins. Figgins, whose 62 stolen bases led the major leagues last season, swiped his first bag Sunday since the April 3 opener. He also added his first homer of the season, a three-run shot in the eighth inning.
Jeff Weaver takes the mound seeking his first win in an Angels uniform after a pair of unimpressive outings. The 29-year-old right-hander, signed as a free agent after spending the last two seasons with the Dodgers, earned one loss in his first two starts while allowing nine runs and 18 hits in 12 1-3 innings.
He is 3-3 with a 4.36 ERA against the Orioles, though he has not faced them since 2003 when he pitched for the New York Yankees.
Baltimore (7-6) simply hopes starter Daniel Cabrera can throw the ball over the plate. Cabrera has walked 16 batters in 6 1-3 innings through two outings this season. He issued a career-high nine free passes last Wednesday at Tampa Bay after walking seven and allowing seven runs in just 1 1-3 innings in his season debut, April 7 at Boston.
“I have confidence in myself,” Cabrera said. “Every pitch I make, I try to do the best I can. If you don’t have good location, what can I do?”
When he does have his location, the hard-throwing Cabrera can be difficult to hit. He held right-handed batters to a .174 average last season—the lowest by a pitcher making 25 or more starts since Nolan Ryan’s .157 in 1991—and struck out 10 Devil Rays in five innings in Wednesday’s matchup.
“He showed signs of being outstanding and then turn around and couldn’t find the plate,” Orioles manager Sam Perlozzo said. “Ten strikeouts, nine walks, pretty amazing.”
Miguel Tejada went 3-for-4 Sunday, raising his season average to .365 with his second consecutive multihit game. The shortstop’s career batting average against the Angels is just .259, but he is batting .395 in 18 games versus Los Angeles since joining the Orioles in 2004.