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HOUSTON -- Tyler Skaggss Angels debut could not have gone much better. Mario Lemieux Penguins Jersey . The left-hander threw eight strong innings and Josh Hamilton hit a two-run home run as the Los Angeles Angels beat the Houston Astros 5-1 on Saturday night. Skaggs (1-0) allowed one run - none earned - on four hits with five strikeouts. Skaggs was acquired in the off-season from Arizona in a trade that sent outfielder Mark Trumbo to the Diamondbacks. "I was excited for my first game with the Angels," Skaggs said. "I have pitched in the big leagues before. I took that mindset that I have been here before. The team needs to get in the win column again. A lot of different things to stay relaxed out there." Skaggs became one of just 13 pitchers in Angels history to go at least eight innings while allowing no earned runs in first start for the team and the first since Shawn Broskie on May 1, 1995, at Toronto. Skaggs, who posted a 2-3 record with 5.12 ERA with the Diamondbacks last year, said he threw a two-seam fastball Saturday night - a pitch he had not thrown in spring training. "The thing is that I havent thrown the two-seamer at all, and today, I broke it out," Skaggs said. "I threw it 90 per cent of the time. Thats why you saw all those 90-91 instead of 93-94. They kept swinging at it, so why not continue to throw it and get outs early in the count?" Skaggs said the changeup and curveball were also good and everything was clicking. Angels manager Mike Scioscia said all of Skaggs pitches were working but it started with his ability to command the fastball. "He had a great two-seamer going and once he was able to get that into spots everything else opened up for him." Scioscia said. "He threw some terrific change-ups, some really good curveballs. Theyve got some right-handed hitters that are really strong hitters and youve got to make some pitches to them. He did and got through it well." Hamilton followed David Freeses run-scoring single with his second homer in as many days, extending the lead to 4-1 in the fifth off Dallas Keuchel. Hamilton had three hits and is now hitting .352 against the Astros with 16 home runs and 41 RBI. "I dont think its necessarily the team," Hamilton said. "I love playing at this park. Before it was a rivalry thing - Texas and Houston. Maybe that helped a little bit. I cant pinpoint one thing." Keuchel (0-1) allowed four runs on eight hits with five strikeouts over five innings. "If youre not on your A-game every pitch, thats what happens," Keuchel said. "I think that kind of took the wind out of our sails in the fifth." Kole Calhoun extended the lead to 5-1 on a run-scoring single in the eighth off Chad Qualls. Houston, which dropped its third straight, opened a 1-0 lead as Jose Altuve scored on an error by third baseman John McDonald in the first, but that lead quickly vanished as Howie Kendrick knotted the score at one with a run-scoring double in the second. Houston manager Bo Porter said the Astros need to get things going offensively after being outscored 16-2 in the first two games of the series. "He really had his breaking ball going, but at the same time, I think we helped him a little bit by expanding our strike zone," Porter said of Skaggs. "He took advantage of it. Offensively, definitely need to get things going and score some runs." Notes: Houston outfielder Dexter Fowler missed his second straight game Saturday after spending Friday night at Methodist Hospital due to a stomach virus. He was released from the hospital Saturday night and could play Sunday, Porter said postgame. . Astros catcher Jason Castro was out of the lineup for the second consecutive game Saturday with a bruised right foot. . Lance Berkman and Roy Oswalt signed one-day contracts before the game and officially retired as Astros. . The Astros outrighted right-handed pitcher Chia-Jen Lo off the 40-man roster. He cleared waivers Saturday and will remain with Triple A Oklahoma City. . Houston will send right-handed pitcher Scott Feldman (0-1) to the mound Sunday as the Angels will counter with right-hander Jered Weaver (0-1). Custom Ottawa Senators Jersey . Thats where their similarities end. Luck was the first overall pick in the 2012 draft and started from Day 1. Keenum joined the Texans as an undrafted free agent and spent all of last season on the practice squad. Marc-Andre Fleury Penguins Jersey . - Corey Perry got to 40 goals and helped the Anaheim Ducks reach 50 wins.TORONTO – They will often sit at the back of the bus or assemble on the ice after practice, the defined leadership core of the Maple Leafs trying to figure out where exactly the season has gone wrong and how to reverse course before its too late. “Its happened more and more lately because were obviously at a bit of a turning point right now,” Jay McClement told the Leaf Report, one-third of an assigned leadership group in Toronto that includes Dion Phaneuf and Joffrey Lupul. “Its frustrating – its hard to put a finger on obviously.” Now beyond the midway point of the season, the Leafs remain a club that is still searching for an identity, still trying to rediscover the feisty magic that infused the group en route to a long-starved playoff appearance last May. Though they did some good in a tilt with the Islanders on Tuesday night, victory was ultimately denied. In fact, they have just five wins in regulation since the start of November – a string of 30 games – crammed amongst a slog of teams vying for the final playoff seeds in the East. To this point, the only identity thats stuck with the team in Toronto is that of an unpredictable, inconsistent sort. One good night has rarely morphed into two. “All year, weve been very inconsistent with it,” McClement said of the desired identity, which hinges on aggression and a physicality thats been lacking. “I dont even think its game to game, its period to period or shift to shift even. A lot of times its period to period. We have a good period and then we cant follow it up. “Weve obviously talked it to death trying to figure it out and if we had an answer then it wouldnt happen … Its been frustrating for sure for all of us.” Randy Carlyle has seen starts and stops with his hockey club, signs here and there – a dominant win against Chicago, a hearty defeat against Los Angeles – but nothing consistently with the schedule now rolling feverously into the Olympics. Over the weekend he was alarmed by the insufficient compete of his team in an embarrassing 7-1 loss to the Rangers. And though the urgency improved three nights later against another New York opponent, enough went wrong for yet another defeat, including a rare off-night in goal and on special teams. It was the 19th loss during the aforementioned 30-game stretch. “I just think weve got to get a lot more aggressive,” said Carlyle following Tuesdays 5-3 defeat. “Were not skating and being the tenacious Toronto Maple Leafs that I expect or everybody expects, from the coaching staff, management. We dont seem to have enough tenacity in our game right now.” No team in the league allows more shots against than the Leafs – they held the Islanders to just 25 – but because of terrific goaltending, a strong power-play, and some shootout success, the club has managed to pick up points and hang in the playoff race. Those at the front of the ship know, however, thats it not been near good enough and cant continue if further success is to be attained this season. “We look at the body of work and I think that we have another level we can play to,” Carlyle said. “Its very frustrating right now because were not getting it. Were pushing, pushing, pushing and just trying to find an answer to why we have that sort of malaise about us at times.” Five Points 1. Berniers Night Rather than turn to James Reimer for the first time since Dec. 21, Carlyle opted to revert back to Jonathan Bernier for the sixth consecutive game after the 25-year-old allowed five goals on 32 shots against the Rangers. “This was not an easy decision,” said Carlyle afterward, “and obviously it wasnt one that worked out in our favour.” Bernier allowed four goals on 24 shots in one of his worst showings of the season. “You could say that it wasnt one of his better nights – thats for sure,” said Carlyle, unwilling to point the finger entirely in his goaltenders direction. Of the four goals, three stood as questionable; the first from Kyle Okposo was one that snuck under his right arm; the second from Michael Grabner was misplayed behind the goal, and ended in a wrap-around for the Islanders forward; the fourth and ultimately decisive goal was a weak attempt by Calvin de Haan from outside the blue-line that crept off the stick of Phaneuf and through a surprised Bernier. “Those are three goals that Im sure Bernie would like to have back,” Carlyle said. “Personally I thought I did some good things,” Bernier added, “[but] it was one of those games that they got those bounces and they won the game.” 2. End of a Slump? Nazem Kadri had his first multi-point night in more than a month, totaling two assists against the Islanders. Speaking prior to the game, the 23-year-old stressed that his recent slump was just another hurdle to overcome. “Realistically, this has happened to me since the first year I came into this organization so its been the same story over andd over again,” said Kadri, who sits fourth in team scoring with 25 points. Custom Boston Bruins Jersey. “Its getting easier to deal with.” Quiet since an explosive opening month – 13 points in 14 games – Kadri had just one point in nine games before Tuesdays mild breakout. He had just two assists total in the previous 19 games. “Nazzies full of confidence and thats a great thing,” said Carlyle on Monday afternoon. “[But] when your confidence leaves you, you have to find a way with our help to re-energize and thats what were trying to do with Nazzie. “My message to him was find a way to do something a little different. Go out there, look at it a little differently. Be a little bit stronger on the defensive side; focus on the defensive side because if you play good defence usually theres going to be offence that youre to be provided with. Do a little extra in the weight room. Do a little bit extra on the bike. Push yourself through the lull thats happening and sharpen yourself up.” Kadri also won 11 of 14 draws in 18-plus minutes on Tuesday. “I thought Nazzie was a lot more noticeable around the puck,” said Carlyle after the game. 3. Underlying Issues Shootout victories have often masked the deeper inconsistencies that remain with the Leafs – even to those in the room. A recent stretch saw the club pick up points in six consecutive games (4-1-2) – five of those outings concluding in the shootout – while not performing exceedingly well in consistent doses. “Everyone says were doing terrible,” said Tyler Bozak, who extended an eight-game point streak, “but our last seven games we were 4-1-2 before tonight. If we did that all year I think wed have a pretty good record. Weve just got to stay as confident as we can and build off the wins we do get.” 4. Olympic Downside The Maple Leafs will have three representatives at the upcoming Olympics in Sochi – Phil Kessel and James van Riemsdyk with the Americans and Nik Kulemin with the home-side Russians. And while there is an obvious degree of pride for the organization there is an admitted challenge and potential downside for head coach Randy Carlyle. “We think its a positive obviously,” said Carlyle late last week. “But on the other hand if we wanted to be selfish about the Toronto Maple Leafs, sometimes those things dont work out the way youd like them to work out … Theres going to be three weeks or the better part of two weeks anyways for them to commit to that team and then coming back to here after sometimes the emotions are flat. Some people dont have anything left.” Carlyle observed such a thing with Anaheim following the 2010 Olympics. The Ducks had seven Olympians in Vancouver, including three from the gold-medal winning Canadian squad. “They didnt have any emotion left when they got back,” he said of a group which included Scott Niedermayer, Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf. “Its two or three weeks of high emotion and the last thing on their mind is where they came from. Theyre playing for their country and you can understand that.” 5. Gleasons Debut/Gunnarssons Injury Playing nearly 16 minutes on the top pair with Phaneuf, Tim Gleason made his Leaf debut against the Islanders. “I thought he played the way we expected him to play,” Carlyle said, noting the adjustment for Gleason to playing top minutes once more after seeing his role dwindle in Carolina. Gleason stepped into the lineup for Carl Gunnarsson, who missed his first game of the season with a hyper-extended left elbow. Gunnarsson had his arm bend awkwardly from a hit by the Rangers Carl Hagelin on Saturday. “I can tolerate the pain,” said the 27-year-old before the game, “but sometimes youve just got to try to be a little bit smart here. You can only do so much and tape it up so much and sometimes its not enough.” Gunnarsson actually suffered the same injury in 2010, but with increased severity – he missed 22 games. Stats-Pack 8 – Consecutive games with a point for Tyler Bozak, who has three goals and eight assists in that span. 6 – Consecutive starts for Jonathan Bernier. 5 – Regulation victories for the Leafs since the start of November. 15:55 – Ice-time for Tim Gleason in his Toronto debut. 6 – Points in the last 15 games for Nazem Kadri. 2 – Goals in the past 16 games for Mason Raymond, who scored his 12th of the year against the Islanders. 13 – Goals this season for Joffrey Lupul, who scored for the second straight game on Tuesday. 2 – Penalties drawn by Jerry DAmigo against the Islanders. Special Teams Capsule PP: 1-5Season: 21.7% (5th) PK: 0-1Season: 77.3% (27th) Quote of the Night “Weve obviously talked it to death trying to figure it out and if we had an answer then it wouldnt happen.” -Jay McClement, on the Leafs ongoing struggles. Up Next The Leafs head to Raleigh for a Thursday date with the Hurricanes. cheap nfl jerseys cheap jerseys cheap jerseys cheap jerseys cheap nfl jerseys wholesale jerseys ' ' '

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