Samstag, 10. Mai 2014

Los Angeles Angels First Week All Too Familiar: Halo Heartbeat

The Los Angeles Angels’ emphasis during spring training was intensity. Pitchers and position players alike saw more innings of work this year than they were used to. However, the plan seemed to be working. The pitches had movement and the bats were alive and well, and the team looked focused heading in to opening day. Of course, even the best plans do not always work. The Los Angeles Angels’ first week of the 2014 MLB season was an all too familiar one for both players and fans.
After six games, the Halos have posted a disappointing 2-4 record. LA’s season started by getting swept at home by the Seattle Mariners. Nothing went right for the Angels in their first homestand. The starting pitchers could not go deep into games and the bullpen could not have held a lead even if the offense had managed to get one.
The big bats for the Angels were quiet during the series too. The offense was held to three or fewer runs in each game, and totaled only seven scores in the entire series. Two of those runs were recorded on a Mike Trout Homerun on opening day, during his first at-bat of the season.
Nothing cures a losing streak like a trip to Houston. The Astros have patrolled the bottom of the majors for several years now. However, in their first year in the AL West, Houston had LA’s number. Ten of the Astros’ 51 wins came against the Angels. A new season brings a clean slate, and the Halos seemed ready to turn the page against their new division foe. They took the first two games of the series in Houston by outscoring their opponent 16-2. The young starters that make up the back of the rotation showed up in spades, pitching 13 innings combined and only allowing two runs. The bullpen finally got their act together too, pitching six scoreless.
The offense came alive on Friday night, knocking three homeruns and beating the Astros by ten. Josh Hamilton continued his success against Houston and helped carry the team to their second win of the season on saturday. However, an unusually bad start by ace Jered Weaver, prevented the Angels from reaching .500, and he fell to 0-2 as the Angels lost 7-4 on Sunday.
Though it is only been one week, the Halos appear to be falling into the same pattern as they have the last two years. They were awful dueing April in 2012, posting an 8-15 record. 2013 was just as bad, and they entered May with a 9-17 mark. If they do not get it together soon, they will create the same hole they never escaped from the last two seasons. Championships may not be won in April, but they sure can be lost.
Worst of the Worst
Kole Calhoun has not started the season in strong fashion. He has one homerun and three RBI, but is batting only .160. In his first week as an Angel, David Freese was not impressive either. He has tallied only two RBI, and is batting .182. Albert Pujols rounds out the list of duds this week, batting .200 and notching only one RBI.
Looking on the Bright Side
Mike Trout leads the club with two homeruns and five RBI. He has started each series with a homerun on his first at bat. Young Pitchers Garrett Richards and Tyler Skaggs shined bright in their first starts of the season. If they can continue to pitch with consistency and execution, they will be exactly what the Angels need to anchor a shaky rotation.
If you Believe in Bad Omens
Don Baylor broke his leg during the ceremonial first pitch on opening day. Vladamir Guererro came back and signed a one day contract with the Angels so he could retire with the team. He threw out the first pitch of the season to Baylor, who awkwardly caught the ball and broke his leg. It is still unclear how long he will be sidelined with the injury, but Mike Scioscia will continue to consult with him until he returns. It is unfortunate that such a freak accident ruined such an iconic first pitch. Baylor and Guerrero are the only two MLB American League MVPs in franchise history.
What is Next for the Halos
The Angels finish their road trip with one game in Houston and two in Seattle before a day off. The Mariner’s home opener is Tuesday, so look for them to give the Angels all they can handle once again. After their off-day, LA goes home to open a three-game series with the New York Mets.

Motorsport / MotoGP / Moto2 2014 Folger rast in Reihe zwei

Folger rast in Reihe zwei

Jonas Folger hat in seinem erst dritten Moto2-Qualifying den fünften Platz belegt und startet damit von der zweiten Reihe ins Rennen.
Die Bestzeit beim Grand Prix von Argentinien setzte der Spanier Esteve Rabat (Kalex) in 1:43,961 Minuten vor Johann Zarco aus Frankreich und dem Belgier Xavier Simeon.
Es ist bereits die dritte Pole-Position des WM-Führenden Rabat beim dritten GP dieses Jahres.
Während Folger sein bislang bestes Qualifying-Ergebnis in der Moto2 erzielte, schafften es die beiden anderen deutschen Piloten nicht in die Top Ten.
In seiner letzten Runde verdrängte Marcel Schrötter den ehemaligen Moto3-Weltmeister Sandro Cortese noch von Rang zwölf auf Platz 13.

Motorsport 2014 Superbike: Sykes baut Führung aus

Superbike: Sykes baut Führung aus

Titelverteidiger Tom Sykes hat im niederländischen Assen auch ohne einen Sieg in beiden Rennen seine Führung in der Superbike-WM ausgebaut.
Der britische Motorrad-Pilot belegte auf seiner Kawasaki die Plätze zwei und vier und hat mit 108 Punkten nun zwölf Zähler Vorsprung vor seinem neuen Verfolger Sylvain Guintoli (96).
Der Franzose feierte mit seiner Aprilia zunächst im fünften Rennen seinen zweiten Saisonsieg, wurde im zweiten Lauf aber nur Neunter.
Loris Bas (Frankreich/Kawasaki), der vor Assen mit nur vier Zählern Rückstand auf Sykes Zweiter der Gesamtwertung war, fiel nach den Plätzen vier und sieben mit 93 Punkten auf den dritten Rang zurück.

Josh Hamilton Wins AL Player Honors Angels Win First Series: Halo Heartbeat

The first week for the Los Angeles Angels may not have gone according to plan, but it has not been all bad. The Halos notched their first series victory with a solid win against the Astros on Monday. In addition, the American League Player of the Week award was given to Josh Hamilton, who is in desperate need of a big bounce back season after a very disappointing 2013.
The Angels took three out of four from Houston over the weekend in a series that was dominated by starting pitching. In the three victories LA earned, the starting pitchers combined for 21 innings and only three runs. The only loss was an uncharacteristic outing by Jered Weaver. He did not allow many hits, but four of them were dingers, tying a career high for homeruns allowed. The offense came out big too, scoring 29 runs during the series.
The offensive charge was led by Hamilton, who is sharing the American League Player of the Week award with Chris Colabello of the Minnesota Twins. He continued his success against the Astros in Minute Maid Park, a place where he became comfortable playing in during his time with Texas. Hamilton is currently batting .500 on the young season, including a pair of homeruns and a six-pack of RBI. He is tied with Mike Trout and Kole Calhoun for the team lead in round-trippers, and is second behind Raul Ibanez who is sitting with seven runs-batted-in.
Angel fans are excited to see Hamilton start out so strong, and are hoping he has finally turned the page from his dismal 2013 season. He begun last year in probably the biggest slump of his MLB career, and although he started to right the ship toward the end of the year, it was too little too late to help the Halos salvage their season. If he can get hot and stay hot this year, he is capable of carrying the team on his shoulders for several weeks at a time. It is a good thing too, because Trout cannot do it alone and Pujols has come out of the gate very slow. The Angels cannot afford another slow start this year. Their bad showing in April the last two seasons has ultimately cost them a shot at the playoffs.
The Halos next travel to Seattle to take on the Mariners in a mini two-game series. They have a chance for a little payback against the boys from the northwest, who swept them at home to start the season and ruined their home opener. They are looking to return the favor, as the Mariners make their 2014 home debut tonight. Hector Santiago will have a second crack at a Mariners’ lineup that knocked him around pretty good last week. It will also be interesting to see if Trout can continue his streak of homeruns. He has hit one during his first at-bat of every series so far this season. Kole Calhoun must also step up if LA wants to rebound against Seattle. He had a rough first week, but had a very good game in the series finale against the Astros on Monday.

Motorsport / MotoGP / Moto3 2014 Fenati rempelt sich zum Sieg

Fenati rempelt sich zum Sieg

Romano Fenati heißt der Gewinner des dritten MotoGP-Saisonrennens in der Moto3 in Argentinien.
Der Sieg des Italieners ist jedoch umstritten, weil er in der letzten Runde den Australier Jack Miller heftig von der Ideallinie abdrängte und damit fast zu Fall gebracht hätte.
Auf dem zweiten Rang landete der Spanier Alex Marquez vor Miller.
Trotz des dritten Platzes verteidigte Miller auf dem neuen Kurs in Termas de Rio Hondo die Führung in der WM-Wertung.
Für die beiden deutschen Piloten gab es erwartungsgemäß nichts zu holen.
Philipp Öttl kam nicht über Platz 21 hinaus, Luca Grünwald stürzte gar.

Mike Trout Could Be the Best Player in History

It was not long ago that Mike Trout was  just another prospect. Sure, he had a tremendous set of tools and put up gaudy numbers in the Minors, but plenty of players in the same situation never amount to anything in the Major Leagues. Now, just two seasons into the 22-year-old’s career, the name Trout is synonymous with greatness.  While the sample-size is still small, no player has ever accomplished what Mike Trout has in his first two seasons, and if he shows some durability and plays at the same level, he could go down as the best player in the long history of the game.
Trout did not make the Angels’ roster out of spring training in 2012. However, after hitting .403 in 20 games at AAA, he was called up to the Majors at the end of April. He immediately proved his worth, posting a .324/.385/.556 in the month of May with five home runs and eight stolen bases in 27 games. In June, he was even better, as shown by his .372/.419/.531 line. Fans believed that he had reached his peak, but he had a more preposterous July. In 25 games, Trout hit 10 home runs, drove in 23 runs, stole nine bases, and accumulated a .392/.455/.804 slash line. In the span of three months, Mike Trout had gone from being a Minor Leaguer to a legitimate MVP contender in the American League. At the end of the year, in just 139 games, Trout hit 30 home runs, stole 49 bases, scored 129 runs, and posted a .963 OPS. According to Baseball Reference, Trout racked up 10.8 Wins Above Replacement (WAR), meaning that he earned the Angels nearly 11 wins on his own accord. Although he lost the AL MVP to Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera, Mike Trout established himself as one of baseball’s best players after just five months in the Majors.
2013 came with much more fanfare for the young outfielder, but he played on the same ridiculous level. In 157 games, Trout posted a .323/.432/.557 line while hitting 27 home runs, stealing 33 bases, and driving in 97 runs. One area of improvement for Trout between 2012 and 2013 was his patience. He walked in 10.5% of his plate appearances  in his rookie season while that number jumped to 15.4% in ’13. Somehow, Trout found a way to improve upon his obscene 2012, and even though he finished runner-up to Miguel Cabrera in the MVP race once again, he solidified his place as the best player in baseball. At just 22-years-old, Mike Trout has enjoyed an unprecedented level of success in his first two seasons, and his production in 2014 suggests that he could be considered the best player in baseball’s rich history.
Mike Trout has been incredible in the first month of 2014. According to Fangraphs, his 2.5 WAR is the best in the MLB, just ahead of Troy Tulowitzki’s 2.3 clip. In 27 games, Trout has 16 extra-base hits, 18 RBI, and an OPS of exactly 1.000. Miguel Cabrera had a rough April, so Trout could finally win his long-awaited MVP.
It is hard to believe that any player could be as good as Mike Trout at such a young age. There were claims that Trout’s rookie season was a fluke, but after showing up as the exact same player in 2013, he quieted most doubters. With another MVP-caliber season, Trout will already be considered as one of the best in the long history of the game. The only recent player with a similar career path was Trout’s current teammate, Albert Pujols. In 2001, Pujols burst onto the scene as a 21-year-old and finished fourth place in the NL MVP race. For the next decade, Pujols continued his dominance for the Cardinals, as he finished No. 3 or higher in the MVP race in all but two seasons. Pujols was incredible and consistent, but Mike Trout has already been better than Pujols ever was. If he is able to keep up the same level of production for a decade, Trout will join the immortal ranks of Babe Ruth, Honus Wagner, and Willie Mays. Right now, there are no signs that suggest that Trout is slowing down, so get ready, record books.

Miguel Cabrera Wins Back-to-Back MVPs Despite Injuries

Miguel Cabrera may not have won the Triple Crown again this year, but he did win his second MVP award in as many years due to off the charts offensive statistics. In fact, some argue that Cabrera had a more impressive season than in 2012 when he became the first player since Carl Yastrzemski in 1967 to win the Tripple Crown. In 2013, Cabrera had a higher batting average (.348), on base percentage (.442) and slugging percentage (.636) then he did in 2012. All three categories led the American League despite Cabrera’s injuries.
The 137 RBI’s that Cabrera racked up were only one shy of league leader Chris Davis (Baltimore) and were only two shy of his 2012 mark. Cabrera matched his 2012 total of 44 homeruns but finished second to Davis who hit 53. But here is the scary part. Cabrera only hit one homerun in the last 25 games of the season because he was being hampered by a series of health problems focused on his groin, back and hip. After losing to the eventual World Champion Boston Red Sox in the ALCS, Cabrera had  surgery on his groin. “The last two months were tough, ” Cabrera said.  “I said, ‘OK, let’s play through it and see if we can get to the playoffs.’ ”
Whether Cabrera was seriously injured for the last 25 games of the season or not he had an incredible offensive year. The adversity he faced however, appears to have made him even more appreciative. “It was more special, I put up better numbers with fewer games,” Cabrera said. “This year was tough with the injuries.” Cabrera becomes the first person to win the AL MVP award in back to back seasons since Frank Thomas of the Chicago White Sox did it in the 1993 and 1994 seasons. Albert Pujols did it in the National League in 2008 and 2009.
Again Cabrera’s closest competitor was Mike Trout, although close is a misleading descriptor. The Baseball Writers’ Association of America awarded Cabrera with 23 of the 30 first place votes, a landslide victory. In 2012, Cabrera received 22 of the 30 votes. Trout received five first place votes and Davis finished third in the voting. In the National league Pittsburg Pirates Outfielder Andrew McCutchen was named MVP.
Miguel Cabrera’s historic performance over the past two years has generated a new debate within the halls of baseball distinctions. The title of this generations greatest hitter had for a long time been granted solely on the shoulders of Albert Pujols. However, as Pujol’s numbers have seen a decline since he left his long time home in St. Louis to head to a higher pay day in Los Angeles playing for the Angels, Cabrera has earned his place next to Pujol’s in a discussion of this generation’s greatest hitter.
The similarities between the two are also striking. Both hit for both power and average while compiling league leading RBI production. Interestingly, both players have been moved around a fair amount in their career, most likely due to weight they put on in the latter years with their respective teams. Both players have played Left-field, Third-base and First-base. When you compare their careers Pujols still has overall better numbers. But Pujols has been been in decline while Cabrera is rising to the best seasons of his career. If this trend continues, and Cabrera can avoid further injuries, baseball may have a new greatest hitter of this generation.

Motorsport / MotoGP / Moto2 2014 Cortese fährt in die Top 10

MLB 9 Innings: GLV Baseball Writers Early Season Award Winners

As the calendar moves to May, the Guardian Liberty Voice (GLV) Baseball writers have cast their early season votes for the Cy Young and MVP of both leagues in MLB. One contest was very close, while the other three were runaways for the most part.
American League Cy Young Award: 1. Sonny Gray, Oakland Athletics, 2. Felix Hernandez, Seattle Mariners, 3. Mashiro Tanaka, New York Yankees
While Hernandez is having his usual quick start this season, and Tanaka is making quite an impression since moving to the Major Leagues from Japan, it is Sonny Gray who finds himself as the early season AL Cy Young winner. He garnered the most first-place votes, and the most votes overall.
Gray is 4-1 for the Athletics, who find themselves needing to lean more on the second year starter, now that A.J. Griffin joins Jarrod Parker in needing Tommy John surgery. The Athletics’ righty has a 1.76 ERA, second in the American League. Gray has given up just one home run in 41 innings of work.
National League Cy Young Award: 1. Adam Wainright, St. Louis Cardinals, 2. Jose Fernandez, Miami Marlins, 3. Johnny Cueto
Like Gray, Wainright received the most first-place votes, and had the most overall votes cast for him. He narrowly edged Fernandez, who is having an amazing year for the Miami Marlins.
Adam Wainright is second to Johnny Cueto in ERA in the National League, posting an amazing 1.20 ERA to Cueto’s 1.15. He is 5-1 already, leading the NL in wins, and has given up just 24 hits in 45.0 innings. Amazingly, Cueto is even better in this category, yielding just 22 hits in 47.0 innings pitched, while striking out eight more batters than Wainright. However, the GLV baseball writers could not overlook Wainright’s five wins, and so he becomes the early season award winner in the NL.
American League MVP: 1. Alexei Ramirez, Chicago White Sox, 1. Jose Abreu, Chicago White Sox, 3. Albert Pujols, Los Angeles Angels
Pujols is off to a quick start for the Angles, flashing some of the star power that the team was hoping for when they signed him two seasons ago, but it is two Chicago White Sox players that have the GLV baseball staff smitten. Ramirez and Abreu wind up tied for first in the April vote.
Abreu was signed out of the Cuban league by the White Sox for a whopping $68 million over four years. Many scoffed at the amount Chicago paid, but he is paying instant dividends, leading the MLB in home runs (10) and RBI (32), as well as extra-base hits (19). His RBI and home run totals set a major league record for rookies in April.
Ramirez is leading the American League in hitting, batting .351, and is quickly establishing himself as second best shortstop in the game. He also has added four homeruns, which are just two short of his total for all of last season. Even more impressive than his hitting barrage is the near flawless manner he has played short this year. Last year he made 22 errors, but this year has just one so far.
National League MVP: 1. Troy Tulowitzki, Colorado Rockies, 2. Adrian Gonzalez, Los Angeles Dodgers, 3. Yadier Molina, St. Louis Cardinals
The reason that Ramirez is considered the second best shortstop in baseball is because the clear favorite plays about 500 miles to his west.  Troy Tulowitzki is healthy, and is establishing himself as arguably the best player in the game.
Tulo, as he is affectionately referred to by Rockies fans, is leading the majors in hitting, at .370, and is tied for third in the NL in RBI. He is also tied for fourth in home runs. He is one of the most dynamic players around, a clear five tool player, and the heart of the Rockies team.
Gonzalez is leading the NL in home runs, which is quite amazing, considering he plays in Dodger Stadium, a notorious pitchers park. Molina continues to establish himself as the best catcher in MLB, hitting .350 with four home runs, good enough to be third in the GLV baseball writers early season award rankings.
The Guardian Liberty Voice Baseball Staff is:
Brian Moore, Covering the New York Yankees and the New York Mets
Rich Peters, Covering the Oakland Athletics and San Francisco Giants
JeremyMika, Covering the Chicago White Sox and Chicago Cubs
Justin Hussong, Covering the Boston Red Sox and the Los Angeles Dodgers
Mick Varner, Covering the St. Louis Cardinals, Pittsburgh Pirates, and Cincinnati Reds
Ryne Vyles. Covering the Baltimore Orioles and Arizona Diamondbacks
Robert Pannier, Covering the Minnesota Twins, Cleveland Indians, Washington Nationals, Miami Marlins, Texas Rangers, Kansas City Royals, and Toronto Blue Jays
Chris Chisam, Covering the Los Angeles Angels
Glen Parris, Covering the Atlanta Braves
Jabar Morarend, Covering the Milwaukee Brewers
Chuck Podhaisky, Covering the Colorado Rockies
William Costolo, Covering the Tampa Bay Rays
Johnny Caito, Covering the San Diego Padres
Jough Brasch, Covering the Detroit Tigers

Motorsport / MotoGP / MotoGP 2014 Bradl in Argentinien Fünfter

Bradl in Argentinien Fünfter

MotoGP-Pilot Stefan Bradl ist auch beim Großen Preis von Argentinien am Podium vorbeigefahren.
Zwei Wochen nach seiner starken Vorstellung in Austin/Texas (4.) holte der 24-Jährige den fünften Platz.
Unbeeindruckt vom heftigen Sturz im Qualifying überzeugte Bradl (Honda) in Termas de Rio Hondo und rückte im Gesamtklassement auf den sechsten Rang vor.
"Wir können mit dem Ergebnis sehr glücklich sein, bedenkt man den Sturz von gestern und den neunten Startplatz", sagte Bradl: "Ich hatte viel Spaß, konnte wegen Problemen mit dem Vorderrad aber am Ende nicht mehr mithalten."
Beim ersten Grand Prix in Argentinien nach 15 Jahren gewann erneut der Spanier Marc Marquez und schaffte es als erster Fahrer in der MotoGP-Geschichte, die ersten drei Saisonrennen für sich zu entscheiden.
Zuletzt war dies in der Königsklasse Valentino Rossi (Italien/Yamaha) 2001 gelungen (500 ccm).
Hinter Weltmeister Marquez wurde dessen Landsmann und Honda-Teamkollege Dani Pedrosa Zweiter, Platz drei ging in Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) an einen weiteren Spanier.
Bradl erwischte einen ausgezeichneten Start und arbeitete sich schon auf der ersten Runde vom neunten auf den sechsten Platz vor. Zwischenzeitlich war der Bayer sogar Dritter, konnte diese Position aber nicht halten.
Vor allem mit dem neunmaligen Weltmeister Rossi lieferte sich Bradl heiße Duelle.
Weiter geht es am kommenden Wochenende mit dem vierten WM-Lauf beim Europa-Auftakt in Jerez/Spanien.

Motorsport / DTM 2014 Rockenfeller sieht viele Favoriten

Rockenfeller sieht viele Favoriten

DTM-Champion Mike Rockenfeller traut der Hälfte des Feldes in der neuen Saison den Gewinn der Meisterschaft zu.
"Es gibt mehr als zehn Fahrer, die den Titel gewinnen können", sagte der 30 Jahre alte Audi-Pilot am Mittwoch: "Ich könnte alle nennen, die schon mal Meister waren, aber das würde nicht reichen."
Die Tourenwagenserie geht am Sonntag (13.30 Uhr) in Hockenheim in ihre neue Saison, neben Rockenfeller haben sechs weitere Piloten schon mindestens einen DTM-Titel gewonnen. Insgesamt schicken die drei Hersteller Audi, BMW und Mercedes 23 Fahrer ins Rennen.
Grund für Rockenfellers Einschätzung ist auch das ausgeglichene Leistungsniveau der Autos. "In der Formel 1 hast du vier, fünf Fahrer - oder besser Autos - die um die WM fahren können. Das ist bei uns anders", sagte Rockenfeller: "Man kann da eigentlich keine Favoriten nennen."
Der Start in Hockenheim bildet den ersten von zehn Saisonläufen, bereits am Samstag (16.25 Uhr) kämpfen die Piloten im Qualifying um die Pole Position.

MLB Opening Day Los Angeles Angels Pitching: Halo Heartbeat

Though the MLB had their first game a little over a week ago, the Los Angeles Angels do not begin their season until Monday night. They will matchup against the Seattle Mariners in one of the last games to kick off the first full day of MLB action. Angel Fans are eager to hear Victor Rojas proclaim, “Light that Baby up!” Rojas has made those four words famous by yelling them every time the team wins a game. Unfortunately for Angel fans, he has not had much opportunity the last few years to utter the magical phrase.
The Angels have been a huge disappointment over the last four years. From 2004 to 2009, Los Angeles won five MLB American League West division titles. They have not even made the playoffs since. 2010 was a season full of injuries and disappointment for the Angels, and the team went into a rebuilding phase. They were still contenders in 2011, and just like the previous year, they had times when they looked like they were going to win the division.
The acquisition of Albert Pujols and CJ Wilson made the Angels an AL favorite heading in to 2012. Yet the Angels underachieved again, despite the emergence of young phenom Mike Trout, who took MLB fans by storm. 2013 was even worse, as the Angels were only above .500 one time, after an opening day victory against the Cincinnati Reds. Newly acquired Josh Hamilton could do nothing right all year, and major injuries to Pujols, Jered Weaver, and Peter Bourjos kept the team from even being competitive.
During the off-season, General Manager Jerry Dipoto made some huge moves that changed the face of the Angels. He traded fan favorite and hometown hero Mark Trumbo to Arizona in exchange for some badly needed starting pitching, in the form of Tyler Skaggs and Hector Santiago. They will replace Joe Blanton and Tommy Hanson, a pair of 2013 acquisitions that did not work out. The Angels signed Blanton off the street last year to solidify the back of their Bullpen. Early in the season, he was a hard luck pitcher, and had a hard time scratching out a win. The lack of success rattled him, and eventually he fell apart completely and was moved to the bullpen.
Tommy Hanson was acquired from Atlanta last year in exchange for All-Star closer Jordan Walden. Hansen never seemed to get comfortable pitching for Los Angeles, and ended up on a path similar to Blanton’s. Injuries to both Jered Weaver and Jason Vargas, combined with the back end woes, forced the Angels to start the young and inexperienced Garrett Richards several times during the season.
Richards was probably one of the only bright spots on the pitching staff in 2013. Though he still struggled at times, he progressed quickly and became a viable starter as the season progressed. The youngster has flat out electric stuff, and the experience he gained last year has moved him in to the starting rotation for 2014.
Skaggs and Santiago will join Richards, Wilson, and Weaver in the Angel’s starting rotation. Skaggs began his career in the Angel’s farm system, but was traded to Arizona as part of the Dan Haren deal. He has returned to Los Angeles as a more finished product, though he still lacks big league experience. Santiago has been with the White Sox for almost two years, first out of the bullpen in 2012, then as more of a starter in 2013. His 3.41 lifetime ERA makes him a perfect pitcher for the Angels to use in the back-end of the rotation. His upside is huge, and if he can put it all together this year, he could be the difference the Angels have been missing.
Just a few short years ago, the Angels were known for having a stellar bullpen. Lately, however, it has become their Achilles heel. Gone from last year is the failed Ryan Madson experiment. Madson was supposed to be a key piece of the bullpen for the angels, but his injuries proved more complicated and he never took the mound for them. Sean Burnett was brought in to be a dominant situational lefty, but injuries shortened his season and he was barely able to contribute. Even the steady Scott Downs spent time nursing injuries, and it forced the Angels to trot out a new reliever almost every night.
As a result of the tumultuous year in the pen, several pitchers from the Angel’s system had a chance to display their talents in 2013. As a result, many of them will be in the mix this year and spend time as a part of the rebuilt bullpen. Dane De La Rosa was one of those pitchers, and his contribution will be important to the Angels in 2014. He, along with Burnett, will start the season on the DL, but should return to the team in April.
Scott Downs was traded before the deadline last year, and Los Angeles acquired Cory Rasmus as a result. Rasmus will start the season in the minors, but could serve as a bridge to the setup and closer if Long time Angel Kevin Jepsen can not get the job done. Joe Smith and Ernesto Frieri will be the setup and closer for the angels this season.  Frieri was acquired from the Padres in 2012 for utility infielder Alexi Amarista, and made an immediate impact for the team. He recorded his first 13 innings as an Angel without allowing a hit or a run. His fastball is practically unhittable, because he can give it movement in four different directions. Frieri has been working on his secondary pitches, and if he can increase his variety, it will make his fastball deadlier and his effectiveness will rise. Smith is new to the Angels, and brings a veteran presence to a relatively young bullpen.
If the Angels want to return to their successful ways, it will have to start with their pitching. If the new players can mix well with the guys already in place, the entire staff has a chance to shine. A win on Monday will go a long way to setting the tone for the season. It is important for the Angels to start strong in 2014, or they will never be able to finish that way.

Motorsport / MotoGP 2014 Bridgestone verlässt MotoGP

Bridgestone verlässt MotoGP

Der japanische Konzern Bridgestone wird die MotoGP-WM Ende 2015 nach sieben Jahren als offizieller Reifenlieferant verlassen. Das bestätigten beide Seiten am Donnerstag.
"Wir haben alles erreicht, was wir uns als Ziel gesteckt haben - inklusive vieler Weltmeisterschaften", sagte Bridgestones Generalmanager Kyota Futami.
Unmittelbar nach Verkündung des Abschieds begann die Ausschreibung für die Zeit ab 2016. Bis zum 22. Mai 2014 können sich interessierte Reifenhersteller beim Promoter Dorna melden.

MLB Opening Day: MLB 9 Innings

MLB opening day started yesterday for most major league teams, and it was quite a day. Dramatic endings to games, high scoring affairs, major league records set, three challenges, and interesting crowd reactions. All of them made for another great opening day to the baseball season.
Walk-Off Heroes
Alex Gonzalez became an instant hero with the Detroit Tigers. After being signed to replace the injured Jose Iglesias, Gonzalez rewarded the Tigers with a game-tying triple in the seventh, and then won the game with a single in the ninth. In Pittsburgh, 2B Neal Walker broke a scoreless tie in the tenth, and the Pirates beat the Chicago Cubs 1-0.
Welcome Back
Two players suspended for PED use last season, were welcomed back by home crowds. Ryan Braun received a standing ovation from Milwaukee Brewers fans during his first plate appearance. Later, he would single and score a run, in a 2-0 win over the Atlanta Braves.  Nelson Cruz made his debut for the Baltimore Orioles, and hit a go-ahead homerun in the seventh that gave Baltimore a 2-1 win over the Red Sox. He was enthusiastically cheered after the homerun, by the home crowd.
Record in Futility
The Oakland Athletics lost their tenth straight opening day game, when they fell 2-0 to the Cleveland Indians. Closer Jim Johnson gave up two hits and a hit batsman in the ninth to take the loss. Oakland has scored just 13 runs in those 10 loses, and has lost 17 of their last 21 MLB opening day games.
The Shutout Winners
The Pirates were not the only team to have a 1-0 MLB opening day win. The St. Louis Cardinals got a homerun from catcher Yadier Molina, and Adam Wainright threw 7 shutout innings for the victory over the Cincinnati Reds. Cleveland beat Oakland 2-0, and Milwaukee beat Atlanta 2-0 as well.
Big Bat Day
Four teams scored at least 10 runs in their MLB opening day game. Unfortunately for the Rangers, they were the only team to lose their game. The Philadelphia Phillies outscored Texas 14-10, as four Ranger pitchers finished that game with ERAs of at least 9. The Phillies pounded 17 hits and 3 HR, and the Rangers added 14 hits.  In Los Angeles, the Mariners got 11 strikeouts from Felix Hernandez, and the Mariners scored 10 runs on 11 hits, in a 10-3 victory over the Angels. The Miami Marlins got 10 runs off 14 hits in a win over the Colorado Rockies. Marlins ace Jose Fernandez, who is considered a strong candidate for the NL Cy Young award, gave up 5 hits in 6 innings, and struck out 9.
Three other teams scored 9 runs in victory yesterday. The Tampa Bay Rays beat the Toronto Blue Jays 9-2. David Price stuck out 6 in 7.1 IP. The San Francisco Giants held off the Arizona Diamondbacks 9-8. Buster Posey had a big 2-run HR to clinch the victory. In New York, Stephen Strasburg struck out 10, but also gave up 5 hits and 4 runs in 6 innings. Yet, the Mets could not hold off the Washington Nationals, who won 9-7. 2B Anthony Rendon had 4 RBI for the Nats.
Throw the Flag
Three challenges occurred during yesterday’s games. The first ever regular season challenge happened during the Pittsburgh Pirate – Chicago Cub game. Cubs’ manager Rick Renteria challenged a close call at first, which was upheld. Later in the day, Rays’ manager Joe Maddon challenged a call in his game against the Blue Jays. That call was overturned, making Maddon the first manager to successfully challenge a call.
It was an exciting MLB opening day yesterday, and is a great indicator that it is going to be a great season on the diamond.

Motorsport / MotoGP 2014 Öttl und Grünwald weit zurück

Öttl und Grünwald weit zurück

Philipp Öttl fährt für das Team Team Interwetten Paddock Moto3

Die deutschen Moto3-Fahrer Philipp Öttl und Luca Grünwald sind beim 2. Freien Training zum Grand Prix von Spanien (Qualifying, Sa., ab 12.30 Uhr LIVE im TV auf SPORT1 und im LIVESTREAM) der Konkurrenz deutlich hinterher gefahren.
Nach einem starken zehnten Platz im 1. Training, reichte es für Öttl in der zweiten Session nur zu Platz 28.
Grünwald belegte in den Trainings Platz 25 bzw. 29.
Der Spanier Efren Vazquez setzte die Bestzeit im 2. Training.
Auf Rang zwei raste der WM-Zweite Romano Fenati aus Italien vor dem Portugiesen Miguel Oliveira. Der WM-Führende Australier Jack Miller belegte Platz vier.
Die mit einer Wildcard für das Alzamora-Team startende Spanierin Maria Herrera fuhr auf einen starken 13. Platz.

Pittsburgh Pirates Looking For Revenge: Pirates Parcel

The Pittsburgh Pirates and Milwaukee Brewers both started the 2014 Major League Baseball season winning five of their first seven games and hoping to set the table to a National League Central division battle. Since then both teams have gone the opposite directions as the Brewers won seven of their next ten games while the Pirates lost seven of their next ten. Four of those losses came at the hands of the Brewers. Now the Pittsburgh Pirates are looking for revenge.
Two games into a four game set with the Brew Crew, Pittsburgh finally took a game against Milwaukee Thursday night at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, crushing the Brewers 11-2. The Brewers returned the following day, beating the Pirates 5-3. The day was not a total loss though as just a couple of hours before game time Pittsburgh announced they had traded for slugging first basemen Ike Davis.
Davis hit 32 home runs and had 90 RBI in 2012 before slumping last season and losing his way in New York. That can happen to a player, especially in New York and Hurdle is counting on a change of scenery re-charging Davis’ career.
“Part of our plan is we go out and acquire guys who have had success and aren’t maybe in the  best  places right now,” Hurdle said. “Sometimes a change of scenery,  sometimes a different environment can help things play out.”
AJ Burnett is the example and the result the Pirates are hoping for. Burnett was a talented hard throwing starter who had struggled with the New York Yankees. Once he got out of the Bronx and landed in Pittsburgh his career blossomed again. So too did the Pirates’ fortunes. Clearly the Pirates are hoping for something similar with Davis.
They could use it right now. The Brewers have been a superior team thus far as Pittsburgh struggles to find their identity. If Davis gets back on track it gives the Pirates a badly needed threat in the middle of their lineup to help protect Andrew McCutchen who has just one home run this season and is hitting .266. Those are not the numbers of an MVP and at the moment Starling Marte has not given opposing pitchers a second thought about pitching around McCutchen. Marte has struck out a whopping 26 times this season with one home run as well. Acquiring Davis and getting his bat rolling again is not an act of luxury for the Bucs, it is a necessity. They need him to hit.
If the Pirates are going to get some revenge against the Brewers they will also need starter Wandy Rodriguez to find some zip on his fastball again. Pittsburgh is concerned about the usually reliable right-hander, who has seen his velocity drop this season. Rodriguez is not a power pitcher anyway so losing a couple of miles per hour off his fastball lessens his margin of error. Case in point. He gave up three home runs in five innings against the Reds in his last start and has surrendered six home runs in just 16 innings this season. Rodriguez is coming off a forearm injury that caused him to miss the final four months of the 2013 season but the Pirates cannot afford to wait much longer on a player that is not going to be able to contribute.
This is not the Pittsburgh Pirates of a few a seasons ago. This franchise expects to contend now. A little revenge against leader of the division would help the Pirates feel a little better about their current standing.

Motorsport / MotoGP / MotoGP 2014 Marquez dominiert, Bradl Achter

Marquez dominiert, Bradl Achter

Der deutsche MotoGP-Pilot Stefan Bradl ist beim 2. Freien Training zum Grand Prix von Spanien (Qualifying am Sa. ab 12.30 Uhr LIVE im TV auf SPORT1 und im LIVESTREAM) auf den achten Platz gefahren.
Im 1. Training hatte Bradl ebenfalls Rang acht belegt.
Überflieger Marc Marquez unterstrich vor heimischem Publikum seine glänzende Form. Der Sieger der ersten drei Saisonrennen fuhr im 2. Training in 1:39,757 Minuten die schnellste Zeit.
Mit 0,216 Sekunden Rückstand landete sein Landsmann Aleix Espargaro auf Platz zwei vor dem Italiener Andrea Dovizioso.
Espargaro hatte im 1. Training überraschend die Tagesbestzeit gesetzt.
Altmeister Valentino Rossi erreichte mit 0,368 Sekunden Rückstand den vierten Platz.
Bradl hatte mit seiner besten Zeit 0,915 Sekunden Rückstand auf Marquez.

Pittsburgh Pirates Look to Rematch: Pirates Parcel

Suffering a  sweep at the hands of a Milwaukee Brewers, the Pittsburgh Pirates have a lot to look forward to this week. Such as a rematch, actually two of them that fall perfectly on the Pirates schedule.
The first begins tonight in Cincinnati against the Reds in a rematch of the National League Wild Card game last October. Cincinnati is struggling right now and the Pirates have a chance to bury the Reds a little deeper in the standings. The two teams were both predicted to contend this season for the NL Central crown but Cincinnati has been heavily hit by injuries so the further they have to come back after they get healthy the better for the Pirates and everyone else in the division.
After that comes a rematch with the Brewers who will be visiting PNC Park in Pittsburgh this time around. That is just fine with the Pirates who came to Milwaukee  with a 6-3 record, just a game behind the Brewers and looking to re-establish the pecking order in the National League Central Division.
That order was established but it was done by the Brewers. Pittsburgh left Milwaukee with three straight losses, four games behind the Brewers and wondering what just hit them.  Pirates Manager Clint Hurdle was not worried though, “We hit a number of balls hard, but we don’t have anything to show for it.”
Hurdle is right. It was not a situation where the Pirates were overmatched in Milwaukee. All the games were close but the Pittsburgh came up short because of sloppy defense and a lack of timely hitting. The Pirates look forward to a rematch and a chance to fix things but they have to acknowledge what the Brewer series made clear to those paying attention. First, the Pirates are not hitting the ball and second, Pittsburgh’s record going into the Brewer series was misleading. They had played the Chicago Cubs in six of the first nine games.
The most important part of regrouping this week will be getting the offense back on track as the Pirates scored just five runs on 15 hits against Milwaukee. Part of unlocking the offense will be getting NL most valuable player Andrew McCutchen and Starling Marte on track. Neither player has a home run two weeks into the season but they have combined for 27 strikeouts. Now throw in Pedro Alvarez and his .178 batting average and offensive production is a problem.
McCutchen will eventually hit but if his leadoff hitter Marte cannot keep his strikeout totals down and get his OBP of .357 up then McCutchen has no one to drive in and becomes easier to pitch around. Especially if Alvarez does not protect him better in the cleanup spot. Alvarez has hit five home runs this season but with a batting average that low it diminishes the impact he has on a game and mutes McCutchen’s effectiveness as well.
Francisco Liraiano and Wandy Rodriguez need to pick things up too as the the two veteran pitchers  are a combined 0-4 this season. Liriano is a notoriously slow starter but he is the ace in this rotation and an ERA of 4.00 with 11 walks this early in the season is not getting it done. Rodriguez has been even worse, posting an ERA of 5.73.
In short Pittsburgh is waiting for their best players to get it going. The Brewers exposed that fast start and the Pirates slumping stars.  The Pirates now look forward to a rematch that will reset their season and their opponents.

Motorsport / MotoGP / Moto2 2014 Cortese verpasst Bestzeit knapp

Cortese verpasst Bestzeit knapp

Cortese wurde 2012 Moto3-Weltmeister
Der deutsche Moto2-Pilot Sandro Cortese ist beim 2. Freien Training zum Grand Prix von Spanien (Qualifying am Sa. ab 12.30 Uhr LIVE im TV auf SPORT1 und im LIVESTREAM) auf Platz zwei gefahren.
Im 1. Training hatte Cortese noch den fünften Platz belegt.
Auch der zweite Deutsche Jonas Folger präsentierte sich am Freitag mit Platz drei und zehn in guter Form.
Die Bestzeit fuhr in 1:43,752 Minuten der Belgier Xavier Simeon.
Hinter Simeon und Cortese reihte sich der Japaner Takaaki Nakagami ein. Der WM-Führende Esteve Rabat setzte sich an die vierte Position.
Marcel Schrötter rundete den starken Auftritt der deutschen Fahrer mit Platz neun ab.