On Sunday, May 12, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and C.J. Wilson visit the Chicago White Sox and Chris Sale on Sunday Night Baseball at 8 p.m. ET. ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball crew – Dan Shulman, John Kruk, Orel Hershiser and reporter Buster Olney – will provide commentary for the exclusive telecast. Sunday Night Baseball is available across multiple ESPN platforms including ESPN Radio, ESPN Deportes, ESPN Deportes Radio, WatchESPN and ESPN International. Baseball Tonight previews the game at 7 p.m. on ESPN.
In advance of the telecast, several ESPN MLB commentators offered insights on key storylines heading into Sunday’s game.
Baseball Tonight analyst Aaron Boone on the C.J. Wilson- Chris Sale matchup:
With Jered Weaver down, C.J. Wilson needs to assume the head of this rotation. They need to be able to hang their hat on his starts and count on him to be close to an ace. Sale needs to get his slider down. While he’s been pretty good, he hasn’t quite been the dominant ace. I’ve seen a little bit of slider elevation from him. If he can get that pitch down, he’s an ace.
Baseball Tonight analyst Alex Cora on Wilson:
I think that the key storyline is C.J. Wilson. We’ve been talking about the Angels being a contender and Weaver being hurt. Here’s a guy that they signed last year to either be their ace or their number two and he hasn’t done it. For them to turn this around, they need him to pitch the way he’s capable of pitching.
MLB Insider Buster Olney on the Angels’ struggles this season:
Early in every season, there are a handful of teams that quickly move into desperation mode, and little more than a month into the 2013 season, that’s where the Angels stand. They cannot afford to lose more ground, and even though it’s May, this team of great stars will be playing with a sense of urgency. The Angels can turn it around, but because of the lack of depth in the pitching staff, the impetus for a comeback has to come from their offensive stars: Mike Trout, Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton and Mark Trumbo.
MLB Insider Tim Kurkjian on the Angels facing Sale:
This is a big weekend series, especially for the Angels. They are in danger of falling out of the race in the West unless they start winning immediately. Their come-from-behind win Thursday night might be the spark that finally gets this team going but they are up against Chris Sale on Sunday night. I don’t know how anyone gets a hit off of that guy.
Olney on Sale’s delivery and repertoire:
Chris Sale is a one-of-a-kind pitcher, with an unusual delivery, and a nasty slider. I think Orel made a fascinating comparison: Sale reminds you a lot of the former Yankees Cy Young winner Ron Guidry, because of the quality of his slider and his angular build.
ESPN MLB Insider Pedro Gomez on the Angels’ struggles:
The Angels cannot afford to continue to spin their wheels and expect to remain in the AL West race. They need pitching to really start to shine and they absolutely need more production from their two cogs in the middle of their order, Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton.
Cora on Hamilton’s plate discipline:
He needs to take a step back. We get it, he’s an aggressive hitter. But right now, he’s getting 0-2 pitches in the first pitch of the at-bat. They know he’s swinging. They aren’t even trying to get ahead of him. They are going to the put-out pitch on pitch one because he’s swinging. He needs to be more patient. He has two home runs in last few days but still he needs to take some pitches. The whole league knows that he’s been very aggressive and chasing a lot. He must take a step back and see some good pitches.
ESPN MLB Insider Jim Bowden on keys for the Angels to improve:
The Angels can turn it around but they have to stay healthy. There is not enough depth to withstand injuries, as we’ve seen to date. Hamilton and Pujols must get back to MVP form. The key to the team will be the starting rotation. Blanton and Hanson have to be good enough to win 12 games and pitch 180 innings. A trade for more pitching is a must. Hamilton’s not loading and his timing is not in sync. If he corrects those two flaws he will hit. His bat speed is still there. He also must improve his strike zone awareness and cut down at swinging at balls out of the zone which is at a poor rate of 49%.
Boone on the struggling power hitters in both lineups:
If these teams are going to live up to expectations, their big guys in the middle have to get it going. We need to see production from Konerko and Dunn for the White Sox and Hamilton and Pujols with the Angels.
Cora on White Sox Manager Robin Ventura:
It’s Robin’s second year, so right now it’s his team. Obviously last year he had a great season. They made some changes and lost A.J. So, I think now he’s settled in. It has been a tough month for them, so let’s see what kind of manager he is. Last year, they kind of lost it at the end in September and they seem to be in the same pattern now. We need to see what kind of manager he will be.