Numbers don't do 'D' justice

Numbers don't do Angels 'D' justice

MINNEAPOLIS -- Statistics can be revealing, but they also can be deceiving. Consider, for example, the Angels' defensive performance in Wednesday night's 1-0 decision over the Twins at the Metrodome.

In the box score, the Angels were charged with two errors in 45 chances, which computes to a .957 fielding percentage. That's about 30 points below standard, an abysmal number by any measure.

Yet, if you watched the game, you saw some wonderful leather work by the Angels behind starter Joe Saunders and closer Francisco Rodriguez. There were superb plays made by all four infielders, with second baseman Howard Kendrick starting four double plays turned by shortstop Erick Aybar, and Chone Figgins and Casey Kotchman excelling at the corners.

"We've made the plays the first three games, that's for sure," manager Mike Scioscia said before Thursday's finale of the four-game set with Minnesota.

"With Kelvim [Escobar] and John [Lackey] out of the equation, the makeup of our staff will pitch to contact more. Those guys had the ability to get strikeouts. Our defense will be even more important as we move forward."

Jon Garland made it through eight innings in his Angels debut on Tuesday night without a strikeout, but it didn't prevent him from producing a gem: eight innings, one run, six hits, one walk.

In the afterglow, Garland marveled at the play of his defense, notably an artistic double play started by Figgins at third and several athletic plays by Maicer Izturis at shortstop.

On Wednesday night, it was more of the same, with Aybar's flying feet and the dexterity of Kendrick, Figgins and Kotchman paying dividends.

"Those guys were awesome," gushed Saunders. "Our defense was great."

Early on, fears that the loss of Gold Glove shortstop Orlando Cabrera -- dealt to the White Sox for Garland over the offseason -- would have a negative impact appear unfounded, given the performances of Izturis and Aybar.

The errors on Wednesday came on a ball to Aybar's left that he reached but couldn't hold and a throw by catcher Jeff Mathis that sailed into center field on a steal, enabling Nick Punto to reach third. Saunders pitched through both blips.

The Angels were tied with the Twins for 10th in the AL in fielding percentage (.984) through Wednesday, but you'd have a hard time convincing Scioscia that there have been nine better clubs with the glove.

More reflective of the Angels' defense was that league-best 1.38 team ERA.

Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.