The Angels dropped a fourth straight game to the White Sox on Thursday afternoon and fell six games back of the Rangers in the American League West. Halos center fielder Torii Hunter, for one, is not happy about it.
Hunter told ESPN Los Angeles’ Mark Saxon that he thinks some of his teammates might be loafing it in anticipation of the much-need All-Star break.
“We might have some guys looking at the standings and seeing the
three games off for the All-Star break and kind of getting a little
loose, relaxed, don’t really want to do much,” Hunter said. “You can see it. Hopefully it’s not that. Every game, you’ve got to come out 100 percent ready and ready to play hard.
Hunter may be correct, but it can be awfully hard for a team to win baseball games when guys like Kevin Frandsen, Reggie Willits and Paul McAnulty are seeing regular playing time. Losing Kendry Morales was a major blow to the Angels’ chances this season and Bobby Abreu and Hideki Matsui have simply looked old.
The 34-year-old Hunter is at least doing his part. Named to his fourth All-Star game last weekend, he is batting .301/.383/.520 with 14 home runs and 60 RBI through 302 at-bats.
Dodgers catcher Yasmani Grandal has not had a good postseason. Entering Monday night’s NLCS Game 3, he was batting .111/.238/.278 in 21 trips to the plate across the NLDS and the first two games of the NLCS.
Defense has also been an issue for Grandal. In Game 1 of the NLCS, Grandal was on the hook for two passed balls. In the sixth inning of Game 3 Monday night, he couldn’t corral a curve in the dirt, which allowed Travis Shaw to score the Brewers’ second run of the night. Starter Walker Buehler was charged with a wild pitch. In the eighth, with Ryan Braun on first base and Shaw at the plate, Grandal again couldn’t corral a pitch in the dirt, allowing Braun to move to second base. Fortunately for the Dodgers, Alex Wood was able to escape the inning with no damage.
Manager Dave Roberts said that Austin Barnes, not Grandal, will start behind the plate for Game 4 on Tuesday night, Andy McCullough of the Los Angeles Times reports. That comes as no surprise at all. When Grandal struck out with the bases loaded in the ninth inning, Dodger fans regaled him with boos.
Barnes will be an upgrade defensively, but he’s lacking with the bat. He had an 0-for-3 performance in Game 2, though with an RBI, bringing his career slash line in the playoffs to .200/.281/.300 across 57 plate appearances. During the regular season, his career 100 adjusted OPS is a fair bit behind Grandal’s 115. Roberts is trading offense for defense in Game 4. Rich Hill will get the start opposite the Brewers’ Gio González.