Erick Aybar launched two homers and scored five times Sunday
The Los Angeles Angels need four areas of production to sweep the Toronto Blue Jays and cut down the Rangers' lead in the American League West. Sunday’s blowout performance, an 11-2 Angels victory wrapping up the Baltimore Orioles series, was a welcome sight after Friday and Saturday losses to the O’s. Erick Aybar was absolutely stunning with two home runs, a feat he had never before achieved. Aybar scored five times along with driving in four runs with his own bat.
Now the Angels' momentum needs to continue to catch the Texas Rangers in the American League West. Ten games remain for "the Halos." No more wiggle room for error. Four games in Toronto, Canada start Monday afternoon. Cal State Fullerton grad Ricky Romero (15-10) takes the mound for the Blue Jays. Here are the four keys to the game in the four-game Angels and Blue Jays series.
Ricky Romero has 23 quality starts in 2011.
Blue Jays pitcher Rocky Romero (15-10, 3.02 ERA) has had quality starts in eight of his last nine appearances winning each of those games. The former Cal State Fullerton Titan has 23 quality starts on the year and throws systematic pitches to right-handers.
If the Angels' batters can time Romero's breaking pitch, they can be successful. Romero runs on lefties and cuts away from right-handed batters. Communicating with other batters is key for breaking the approach to the Blue Jay pitcher.
Erick Aybar started the business of productive veteran leadership, and now the team must respond. Vernon Wells and Torii Hunter need to lead by example if the Angels are to get into the pennant race in 2011. The youth will follow suit if the momentum swings towards the Halos.
Jerome Williams pitches in his fourth Monday after starting 2011 in independent baseball.
When the Angels score first, they have proven to be successful. This Los Angeles club is not a come-from-behind force. Getting ahead with Jerome Williams on the mound Monday will set the tone for the series. Supporting this pitcher who began the year in independent baseball may develop potentially into a fourth reliable starter at a key point in the series.
The Angels did not take a lead against the Orioles in either of the first two game of the series which they lost. Toronto is not going to quit this weekend and will look to jump out early on the struggling Angels pitching. Scoring first may allow AL All-Star Jered Weaver to get his first 20-win season.
Mistakes will happen in this series. With Joel Pineiro and Jerome Williams pitching in this series, the Angels will have to capitalize and play better than the opposition to win. Extending at-bats, turning double plays and stealing bases will all be complementary to winning this series.
Toronto has won of seven of their last 10 games. Their bullpen is a point of weakness to be exploited. The Angels will need to be sharp at the plate and convert men in scoring position to be victorious in this series against Toronto. If they lose this series, they will likely be outside looking in for the rest of the year.