How frustrated are the Angels after starting the season 6-12?
After last night’s 3-2 loss Torii Hunter talked to reporters about how everyone on the roster has “to dig deep” and then seemingly called out manager Mike Scioscia for his lack of in-game strategy.
Hunter specifically seemed upset about Scioscia’s failure to call a bunt with two runners on base in the second inning, which led to the Angels being held scoreless following back-to-back singles to begin the frame.
Hunter avoided flat-out ripping Scioscia, but based on his comments to Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times it’s pretty easy to read between the lines:
We have to fight a little harder. I don’t think we believe we’re trying that hard. We’re just going through the motions. We have to do what we’re capable of doing. That’s everybody; not just the players.
Obviously “not just the players” is directed toward Scioscia, although DiGiovanna called it “a veiled criticism.” However, when asked specifically if a change in early game strategy could have turned the game around Hunter replied:
You mean if we bunted in the second? What can we do? All we do is play the game.
Meaning, of course, that the players can only follow orders from Scioscia in those spots.
Hunter has always been praised for his leadership and is generally one of the most well-liked players in baseball, but in times of adversity dating back to his days in Minnesota he’s shown a willingness to publicly rip teammates and, now apparently, managers.
UPDATE: DiGiovanna reports that the Angels are holding a players-only meeting before today’s game, adding: “Can’t say I’m surprising after the events of last night.”
Here are the Cubs and Cardinals lineups for Game 1 of the NLDS in St. Louis:
CF Dexter Fowler
RF Kyle Schwarber
3B Kris Bryant
1B Anthony Rizzo
2B Starlin Castro
LF Chris Coghlan
SS Addison Russell
C David Ross
SP Jon Lester
Jon Lester’s personal catcher David Ross takes the place of Miguel Montero behind the plate. Kris Bryant shifts back to third base after playing left field in Game 1, with Chris Coghlan coming off the bench to get a start in the outfield against a right-hander. Addison Russell bats seventh, which he did just 10 times during the regular season.
3B Matt Carpenter
1B Stephen Piscotty
LF Matt Holliday
CF Jason Heyward
SS Jhonny Peralta
RF Randal Grichuk
C Yadier Molina
2B Kolten Wong
SP John Lackey
Mike Matheny’s lineup for Game 1 is an interesting one. Jason Heyward is batting cleanup and playing center field, where he started just eight games all season. Stephen Piscotty plays first base, where he started just nine games. Yadier Molina is behind the plate, toughing his way through a significant thumb injury that’s sidelined him since September 20 and leaves him at much less than 100 percent now. Brandon Moss, Mark Reynolds, and Jon Jay are all on the bench.
Rookie left-hander Steven Matz hasn’t pitched since September 24 because of a back injury, but he’s on the Mets’ playoff roster for the NLDS and looks likely to start Game 4 against the Dodgers.
Matz prepped for a potential start by throwing 80 pitches in a simulated game Thursday and apparently experienced no issues. Even setting aside the health question mark Matz has started just six games in the majors, but he’s 4-0 with a 2.27 ERA and 34/10 K/BB ratio in 35.2 innings.
Matz is one of 11 pitchers on the NLDS roster, along with 14 position players. No big surprises.
Here are the Astros and Royals lineups for Game 2 of the ALDS in Kansas City:
2B Jose Altuve
RF George Springer
SS Carlos Correa
LF Colby Rasmus
DH Evan Gattis
3B Luis Valbuena
1B Chris Carter
C Jason Castro
CF Jake Marisnick
SP Scott Kazmir
Carlos Gomez remains out of the lineup with an intercostal injury, so Marisnick makes another start in center field after going 2-for-4 with standout defense in Game 1.
SS Alcides Escobar
2B Ben Zobrist
CF Lorenzo Cain
1B Eric Hosmer
DH Kendrys Morales
3B Mike Moustakas
C Salvador Perez
LF Alex Gordon
RF Alex Rios
SP Johnny Cueto
Royals manager Ned Yost sticks with the same lineup as Game 1, which isn’t surprising given that he trotted out the same lineup for basically the entire postseason run last year. Cueto gets the ball after Yost chose Yordano Ventura for Game 1 duties.