Tagged: Bobby Abreu

Keeping The Faith!

“Welcome back to the postseason, Halos, that most celebrated
of achieved
destinations, where tradition dictates you’ll soon
be squished in the manner of a grape beneath the dancing
feet of Jonathan Papelbon.”

                                              — Jeff Miller, OC Register

Ummmm, I don’t think so.  Not even close.  The only “grapes” involved in the Angels’ sweep of the Red Sox were the kind used to make this:

          

But let’s start at the beginning.  Thursday flew by as I tackled a mountain of paperwork at the office, canceled my subscription to the OC Register and spoke with the editor’s secretary.  She provided me some phone numbers for the mucky-mucks in the sports department but I was unable to reach any of them on their direct lines.  Gee, I wonder if they were out at the Big A with their complementary press passes?  By the time I got home, I was fired up and ready for a good game.  With all the talk about the “one-two” punch of Jon Lester and Josh Beckett, I was praying John Lackey would have his best stuff.  Did he ever.  It was a great pitchers duel that continued into the 5th inning and we were all holding our breaths, wondering who would blink first.  Lester did.  Erick Aybar led off the bottom of the 5th with a double, Chone Figgins bunted him over to 3rd and Mr. Patience, Bobby Abreu, skillfully drew his third walk of the game.  Then it happened…my Torii Hunter blasted one up, up and over the centerfield wall! 

                         ANAHEIM, CA - OCTOBER 08:  Torii Hunter #48 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim reacts to hitting a three-run home run as catcher Victor Martinez #41 of the Boston Red Sox look on in the fifth inning of Game One of the ALDS during the 2009 MLB Playoffs at Angel Stadium on October 8, 2009 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

It was a thing of beauty, but given the Red Sox ability to throw runs up on the board in later innings, I said a quick prayer for insurance runs.  Kendry Morales delivered in the 7th with an RBI and one more run came in on a bad throw by Jason Bay.  After giving up only 4 hits, Big John Lackey left the mound after 7 & 1/3 to thunderous applause.  Darren Oliver was superb, finishing the game without allowing a single base runner.  Fantastic!  I had hoped and prayed for a win and got just that.  To top it all off…it was a shut-out!  Sweet. 

                             

As you can imagine, I was itching to update my blog after Thursday night’s win.  After attempting for nearly 2 hours to access MLB Blogs, I gave up and hoped I’d have some time at work on Friday to send out congratulations to my boys and revel in the victory a little.  It didn’t happen as, once again, it was a busy day, cut short by my early departure to get to the Big A for all the action of Game 2.  Since I’d gone into work wearing my World Series Champs t-shirt, jersey, hat and lucky postseason red underwear, I only needed to feed the birds, grab my hubby and get on the road.  There was no traffic at all on the 5 freeway and we were in the stadium by 5 PM.  I couldn’t help but shake my head at the number of “fans” who were attempting to enter the ball park with ALCS tickets!!  I use the term “fans” lightly as true baseball fans undoubtedly know the difference between ALCS and ALDS.  One unfortunate woman had bought Game 2…Game 2 at Fenway!  Jeez!! 

                               

We headed to our seats which were in a very lively terrace section on the right field side.  I told my husband I needed to eat some dinner quickly because I knew I would not be able to eat once the game started.  This was not a typical fun night at the ball park.  My nerves were kicking in big time and at no time would I be taking my eyes off the field.  I inhaled my sandwich and nervously waited.  They showed the new pre-game video montage again and again I became emotional.  Okay, that’s an understatement.  I began sobbing and didn’t think I’d stop.  The whole Nick Adenhart thing just hit so close to home.  I was missing my Dad.  This was my first postseason game without him.  My husband was helpless to comfort me so he just handed me those stiff, scratchy stadium napkins and let me have my cry.  Jered Weaver took the mound and wrote “N.A.” in the dirt of the mound with his finger and I let loose one last sob, then got myself together.  I grabbed my thundersticks and began cheering with all my might.  I’ll spare you the pitch-by-pitch recap.  The Red Sox scored first in the top of the 4th but the Angels responded quickly with a run of their own in the bottom of the inning.  The Angels broke the tie in the bottom of the 7th with Erick Aybar and Maicer Izturis leading the charge.  Josh Beckett was done with 4 earned runs, his “punch” never materializing.  Jered Weaver pitched his heart out, allowing only one run on 2 hits.  He matched Lackey’s 7 & 1/3 innings and received a well-deserved standing O when he left the field.weaver2-1.jpg picture by lafmyers

Darren Oliver, Kevin Jepsen and Brian Fuentes provided solid relief and once again, it was an amazing game!  The crowd roared with every strike, every out, every Angels’ hit and every Angels’ run.  We were on our feet nearly the entire game.  As we departed the Big A, the crowd was chanting “Sweep, sweep, sweep!” so loudly, they were probably heard in Huntington Beach.  I didn’t join in.  I couldn’t.  You know how superstitious I am.  And that night, my superstitions got the best of me as I decided NOT to blog.  I hadn’t blogged after Thursday’s game and they won on Friday.  So, if I didn’t blog after Friday’s game, well, I just felt it would bode better for Sunday’s game.  But Sunday would be at Fenway.  Fenway.  I decided to remain hopefully, cautiously, optimistic.

                                  

2:00 AM, Sunday morning and I couldn’t sleep.  I scrolled through the recordings on the DVR, looking for something that would perhaps lull me to sleep.  Instead, I watched the Angels’ rally, held after their last regular season home game…again.  I listened to Torii Hunter and Bobby Abreu fire up the crowd.  Jered Weaver described how honored he was to receive the first Nick Adenhart pitching award.  I watched the fans cheering the players as they piled aboard a bus bound for John Wayne Airport.  Then I fell asleep and dreamed of another Angels’ victory.

  sleep.jpg picture by lafmyers

Let me just say, baseball can do for me what football will never do: get my butt up at 9:00 AM on a Sunday.  Here in So Cal, it was overcast and gloomy.  I turned the game on and saw a bright, sunny day at Fenway.  I wondered who the sun was shining for.  Scott Kazmir was good, not great, but at least he kept the Red Sox from running away with it.  The Red Sox had a big 3 run inning in the 3rd and Kendry Morales cut the lead with a solo HR in the top of the 4th.  The Sox scored 2 more in the bottom of the 4th and were all smiles in the dugout with a 5-1 lead.  The crowd at Fenway seemed to finally perk up as well.  The Angels scored one more in the 6th which hardly phased the Red Sox or their fans.  But the Angels got their attention in the 8th when Bobby Abreu had a lead-off double and Red Sox reliever Billy Wagner walked Vlad Guerrero.  Tony Francona decided he’d make the call to the bullpen.  Well, I don’t think he used the phone.  I think he just talks to Papelbon in his head, like some people talk to God.  Honestly, I expected Papelbon to make an entrance like this:

        

 

Or maybe like this:

 

                   

But no, he took the mound like a regular guy and promptly gave up a two-run single to Juan Rivera.  What?!?  This was interesting.  But only for a moment as Reggie Willits, pinch running for Rivera, was quickly picked off to end the inning.  The Red Sox then added a run in the bottom of the 8th and again sent Papelbon out to secure the final 3 outs of the game and what they expected would be a 6-4 win.  Or not.  The first two outs came fairly easy but the 2009 Angels never say die.  Aybar singled up the middle, then took 2nd base, uncontested.  Chone Figgins managed a walk of his own, bringing Abreu to the plate.  When Abreu smacked the Green Monster with a solid double and Aybar came around to score, I was cheering and waving my rally monkey.  And when they walked my Torii Hunter and loaded the bases, I yelled, “Make ’em pay, Vladdy!  Make ’em pay!” Vladdy drove Papelbon’s first pitch right up the middle and dropped it right in front of Jacoby Ellsbury.  Now I was screaming!!!  Figgins scored the tying run and Abreu hustled in for the go-ahead.  This was unbelievable!  For the first time this entire season, I didn’t panic when Brian Fuentes took the mound.  I knew what had just happened would not be in vain.  I knew the unimagineable was about to happen.  This would be a sweep!  Fuentes did what Papelbon couldn’t and shut down the side, 1-2-3. 

  bigfinish.jpg picture by lafmyers

It was a half hour before I felt confident that none of my neighbors had called 911 to report my screams of joy which could totally have been mistaken for the blood-curdling sort.  It was hard to do much of anything the rest of the day.  I realized I’d spent the previous four days a wound-up bundle of nerves.  Now it was time to exhale.  Oh, and watch every second of news coverage I could find.  The idiots at TBS immediately cut away at the end of the game to show a re-run of “Seinfeld”.  Not even a moment of locker room champagne dousings.  Somehow I find it hard to believe they would’ve done that had the Red Sox just completed a sweep in the ALCS.  I guess my guys will continue to be the Rodney Dangerfield of the MLB…no respect, I tell ya.  Whatever.  We’re used to the unfair coverage and the lack of respect.  Just think how stupid the local reporters look now.  They all predicted a sweep…by the Red Sox.  That’s okay.  Everyone can keep dissing my guys, but the fans will always keep the faith.  We know how bad our Angels want this.  And we know what they’re playing for.

  torii1.jpg picture by lafmyers

 

Angels Baseball…Fan Strong!

 

 

Just A Touch of Heart Burn

That’s because I’m eating my words.  I know, I know.  I said I wanted a close race all the way into September.  Would you believe me if I said I was talking about the AL East?  How ’bout the NL West?  (Mannywood? Mannywoops!)  I’m the first to admit the last few games have been painful.

                   thrill.jpg picture by lafmyers

 

But on the bright side, it could be worse…

 

 sox-casket.jpg picture by lafmyers

I think what makes it so tough to watch the Angels struggling lately is the fact that they were playing so darned good!  They weren’t playing well and getting lucky.  They were playing like a true championship team.  I may be behind with my posting but I haven’t missed a single moment of Angels baseball.  Let’s do a quick little re-cap:

Saturday vs. Blue Jays (W 7-3)  Ervin Santana had a good 6 innings, Angels’ relievers were strong.  Offense combined for 11 hits with Erick Aybar going 3 for 4.  Vladdy and Juan Rivera each had a home run.  All in all, the Angels seemed to bounce back nicely after losing 2 in a row.

Sunday vs. Blue Jays (L 3-8)  Trevor Bell had his bell rung, giving up 6 runs in just 1 and 2/3.  The Angels managed to score 3 in later innings but on 12 hits, that was it.  The walks (6) didn’t help.  This was the 10th and final game of their road trip and it seemed as if they were victims of delayed jet lag. 

Monday vs. Tigers (L 7-10)   Oh, this one hurt.  By the time the Angels were able to score their first run in the 6th inning, they were already down by 10.  At this point, I was just happy it wouldn’t be a shut-out.  But then things started happening.  They scored 4 in the 6th and had scored 3 in the 8th with 2 runners on and 2 outs.  But then in came Fernando Rodney for a 4 out save and the party was over.  Bobby Abreu’s 3 run shot in the 8th turned out just to be for show. 

Tuesday vs. Tigers (L 3-5)   John Lackey again was going for career win #100.  And again, it was not to be.  The Angels looked as if they were going to pick up from where they left off the night before as Howie Kendrick skyed a 3 run shot to right field but former Angel Jarrod Washburn (a new Tiger) decided that was enough.  He and Tigers’ relievers held the Angels to 9 hits and no additional runs while all of the Tigers’ 5 earned runs were courtesy of Big John.

If this keeps up, the Rally Monkey’s gonna need some Prozac.

 

Fear not, Angels fans!  Drastic times call for drastic measures.  Yours truly, Lucky Lori, is headed to the Big A!  I will be there in person to whip my boys into shape and turn things around.  Now, I know I have not been out this season to see my Angels in person as much as I usually do, but the timing couldn’t be better.  With the Angels lead over the Rangers dropping to 4 games, we need a win on Wednesday.  The Rangers beat the Yankees 10-5 Tuesday night.  Come on!  WE do that…not stinkin’ Texas!  So yes, I’m fired up.  In fact, I’m not even worried about jinxing anything when I tell you the Angels have won every game I’ve been to this season.  And not only am I going to the game…it’s a day game!  That’s right, guess whose hubby gave her the day off?  It was pretty easy, actually.  I’ve been been walking around in a zombie-like state, clutching my Rally Monkey and mumbling, “Let’s get Figgy with it,” and singing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” totally off key.  He’s calling it a “mental health” day and he’s absolutely right.  Whatever it is, I’m expecting…no, demanding…a win and when it happens, I’ll come home in such a good mood he’ll probably score a little monkey lovin’.  I know, TMI. 

                        

On a serious note, Monday, August 24, would have been Nick Adenhart’s 23rd birthday.  My thoughts and prayers were with his family and friends on what I know was an unbearably difficult day.  July 30th was my dad’s birthday, the first one since his passing in March.  I know it’s supposed to get easier but I’m not experiencing that yet and don’t expect to for quite some time.  I miss him so much every day and continue to try to make the most of this baseball season without him.  I know he’ll be smiling on Wednesday when he sees two of his daughters and two of his grandkids having a great day out at the Big A.  With Dad as an Angel in the outfield, how can they lose?

 

Baseball…bringing families together. 

 

 

Tough Love

I guess some people just can’t take a compliment.  I wouldn’t exactly say I was “gushing” in my last post, but I couldn’t help but point out how well my Angels had been playing…”had” being the operative word.  I mentioned their awesome defense, fantastic .300+ batting averages, how cute Figgy, Izturis and Aybar are as they speed around the bases.  Maybe I went too far. 

                              

They dropped their last game in Cleveland and their first game, Friday night, in Toronto.  I continue to be baffled by the fact that the Angels can take on a team like the Yankees and inflict grievous injury but then come thisclose to getting shut-out by the Jays.  A couple of doubles in the 7th inning finally put them on the board but then they had to go and score 3 in the 9th, getting me all hopeful and excited.  Mike Napoli’s 3 run homer couldn’t possibly go to waste, could it?  With 2 outs, Howie Kendrick hit a solid double to the wall in left.  The tying run was on and Bobby Abreu, given the night off, comes in to pinch hit.  With 81 RBIs, he’d have been my choice too.  He grounded to first and that was it.  Close but no…

                        

There’s no point in giving Sean O’Sullivan and his 1 inning outing a hard time.  He left some pitches hovering over the plate and the Jays made the most of it.  We’re expecting an awful lot of these rookies.  Some nights they deliver, some nights they don’t.  Mike Scioscia wisely brought Matt Palmer in when O’Sullivan couldn’t get an out in the 2nd.  Palmer gave up the only other run (a Vernon Wells solo HR) and just one additional hit.  Jose Arredondo followed with 3 solid innings…1 hit and 5 K’s.  His performance was very reminiscent of the dependable relief he provided in ’08. 

   

At least the damage was minimized by the Rangers’ Friday night loss to the Rays.  I don’t doubt the Angels will do all they need to secure their western division win, but I certainly won’t mind if the Rangers contribute to the cause. 

                       

Saturday’s game starts at 10:00 AM here on the west coast.  To me, especially on the weekend, that’s the crack of dawn.  I may as well pull an all-nighter to be up and awake for it.  I’ll do whatever I have to.  After losing two in a row, my Angels need me cheering them on.  I may have to be a little bit stingy with my praise in the future.  It seems to have the opposite effect on them.  Sure…like I could ever stop singing the praises of my amazing Angels. 

                                             roflmao2.gif picture by lafmyers

 

Baseball…something to smile about.

 

 

Taming the Tribe

From Baltimore to Cleveland, the Angels are showing no sign of slowing down.  Tuesday night was the first game of three with the Indians and as I had hoped, rookie Trevor Bell got his first win.  Bell went 5 and 1/3 and although he gave up 9 hits, not a one made it over the wall and he was backed up by some great Angels defense.  The double-plays have been spectacular.  Sheer poetry in motion.

ballet.jpg picture by lafmyers

Of course, the Angels offense hasn’t been too shabby.  Every Angel in the lineup was an owner of a .300 batting average or better.  And what continues to impress me is the patience every player is showing at the plate.  Erick Aybar went 2 for 4 but he drew 2 walks.  Chone Figgins went 1 for 3 and he also drew 2 walks.  Who cares how they get to first base as long as they get there.  Just ask former Angel David Eckstein who, during his tenure with the Angels, developed quite the reputation for taking one for the team.  And the Angels must be at the top of the stats for getting to first on a bunt.  Aybar, Figgins and Izturis could always keep busy in the off-season by running relay races.  These guys are just plain fast.

                        

Any team would be lucky to have 1/3 of that kind of speed on the bases.  To top it off, they are excellent fielders and they can hit.  We’ll just call them our triple-triple threat.  And they’re just so darned cute!  They always look like they’re having the time of their lives.  Why not?  They are.  I can only imagine it’s like someone paying me a couple million to scrapbook for 8 months a year.  Shheessh.  If only.  You can bet your sweet bippie (although I have no idea what a bippie is) I’d be smiling the entire time, even if placed on the DL with a paper cut. 

                         

Wednesday night’s game had to have left the Indians shaking their heads.  Jeremy Sowers made the start for Cleveland and gave up only 4 hits to the Angels in 6 and 2/3 innings.  Indians relievers Chris Perez and Jess Todd threw shut-out baseball.  How could manager Eric Wedge ask for more?  Well, he’d probably ask for the win but, amazingly, that wasn’t to be.  Let’s just say Jered Weaver’s haircut was on fire.

      

Weaver threw his second career shut-out.  After the game, he was quick to give credit to catcher Mike Napoli and the rest of his teammates.  And it was a team effort with the Angels defense making incredible plays.  The only Angels runs came in the 5th inning when they combined a walk by Napoli, a double by Kendry Morales and a single by Howie Kendrick to score two.  Aybar beat a bunt to first, Figgy had a sac fly that moved Kendrick to 3rd and Bobby Abreu’s groundout scored the third run.  No one, and I mean no one, manufactures runs like the Angels.  They say imitation is the highest form of flattery so it doesn’t surprise me to see more and more teams attempting to play the Angels brand of baseball. 

                                 

It’s no secret Mike Scioscia has had a huge impact on the Angels as a team but it’s become more and more apparent that he has also made an impression on many other teams in the MLB.  Get ’em on, get ’em over, get ’em in.  It’s a pretty basic concept but in the wake of the whole Sammy Sosa / Mark McGuire whoopla, teams began relying on the long ball to win games.  Think of how many teams rely on their DH to clear the bags and win games?  A DH who never takes the field with a glove?  Prior to Vladimir Guerrero’s injuries, Scioscia routinely rotated players into the DH spot to more or less give them a bit of a rest for the night.  What other team in play-off contention does that?  Don’t forget, the Angels are the only team without a grandslam this season.  Who cares?  Because the Angels don’t depend on home runs to win games, for Angels fans they are icing on the cake.  Sweet, beautiful icing.

                     

And superb pitching like we saw Wednesday from Jered Weaver must be the sprinkles.  Oh, so what famous sibling do I think Weaver resembles now that he’s chopped his locks off?  London loverboy, Prince Harry.  If you’ve seen Weaver with his hat off, you know I nailed this one.

                               

Weaver’s our Prince of the Pitching Mound.  6.5 games up on Texas?  All is well in the Kingdom of Halos.

 

Baseball…the sport of kings.

 

 

It Was Just My Imagination

And yes, it totally ran away with me.  Curses, voodoo, black magic spells?  Turns out they were only in my head.  Not only did the Angels beat the White Sox Thursday, Big Daddy Vlady had a home run as did Jeff Mathis, Bobby Abreu and Erick Aybar.  With 9 runs on 11 hits, my thoughts are decidedly less dark and foreboding than they were yesterday. 

         

I don’t regret yesterday’s post nor do I think I spoke too soon.  What I do in everyday life, because I’m a professional worrier, is to imagine the worst possible outcome in a situation.  I visualize in vivid detail the entire scenario and by doing so, am able to completely avert disaster.  Don’t laugh.  My “worry method” works. 

        

It’s what keeps my planes in the air,

 

        

my cruise ships afloat,

 

      

and water pipes from bursting and flooding my house when I’m on vacation.  And obviously, it’s what keeps my Angels from being swept by the White Sox.  Since I wanted my Angels to come home on the heels of victory to face the Rangers this weekend, I couldn’t waste any time turning things around for them.  What better way than to envision the possibility that someone had put a curse on the team that could potentially keep them out of the World Series for a hundred years?  Believe me, worrying about a White Sox sweep would not have been enough.  Go big or go home.  It worked, didn’t it?

     Jeff Mathis, Howie Kendrick

Jeff Mathis came into Thursday’s game hitting .197 and batting 9th in the order when he hit his 2 run shot in the 2nd, which only proves I’m even more powerful than I thought I was.  I’ve decided, however, to give my overactive imagination the weekend off.  While it would be very nice to completely dominate the Rangers,

                       dominatrix_2-1.jpg image by Spoookygirl

I don’t know that it’s necessary to be 7.5 games up on them by the end of the weekend.  The Angels have proven, once again this season, that adversity isn’t such a bad thing.  They’ve seen more than their share and have come roaring back and played their best ball.  This is one of the reasons I don’t get more upset with bad calls.  More often than not, when a bad call is made that robs them of an out or a run, it ends up being the tide-turner that makes all the difference in a game.  Usually…must I type AJ Pierzynski’s name yet again?  Fine, but I pick the picture. 

            ajp.jpg picture by lafmyers

Pierzynski’s equally offensive manager, Ozzie Guillen, showed his sensitive side when he emerged from the dugout in the 5th inning Thursday, to complain to umpires about the delay of game as batter Howie Kendrick and pitcher John Danks stepped out of the batter’s box and off of the mound while stadium personnel rendered help to a young fan in the stands who had been hit by Kendrick’s flying bat.  I’ll bet Pierzynski and Guillen get together after games to kick dogs and take candy from babies.

                        

Ervin Santana may not have had one of his best starts, but he sure kept his cool and got himself out of big trouble in the 3rd after he loaded the bases by walking Gordon Beckham, giving up a hit to Jim Thome and nailing Paul Konerko with a pitch.  His nerves may have gotten the better of him for a moment as he walked in a run, but he rebounded by striking out Jayson Nix (looking) who earlier hit a 3 run homer off him in the 2nd and getting Chris Getz to tap one right back to him.  The White Sox were unable to score again except for Dewayne Wise’s solo shot in the 9th off of Kevin Jepsen.  Jason Bulger delivered another 2 innings of solid relief and continues to see his ERA drop. 

                 

Bobby Abreu’s home run was his 250th of his career.  Abreu’s addition to the Angels has been tremendous not only for his stats, which earned him the title of American League Player of the Month for July, but also for his shining example of plate discipline that seems to be rubbing off on his teammates.  We are seeing the Angels burn through pitches and draw walks like never before.  No doubt the Angels’ offense is benefitting by following in Abreu’s footsteps. 

     Bobby Abreu

With his HR Thursday, Abreu became only the 6th player in MLB history to combine 250 homers with 2000 hits, 1000 runs scored, 1000 RBIs and 300 stolen bases.  Those are amazing numbers and yet another reason Angels fans are finding it so easy to forget (and forgive) that he was ever a Yankee.

                                     

And speaking of Yankees…it’s time to wrap this up so I can go read some Yankees and Red Sox blogs.  In the first of their four game series, the Yankees proved to the Red Sox that they are not the same team the Sox faced in this season’s previous match-ups.  The Yankees beat the Red Sox 13-6 and almost immediately, blogs everywhere were being updated with the usual rivalry rhetoric that never fails to entertain.  I’m ready to sit back and enjoy the fireworks that make me love to be a baseball fan.

 

Baseball…for people who share a taste for excitement. 

 

 

Down In Chi-Town

I have very little sentimental attachment to hardly any of the cities that are home to other American League teams.  Sure, Seattle is one of hubby’s and my favorite places to visit and New York is one of my favorite places to visit (without my hubby), but Kansas City, Cleveland, Baltimore, Arlington and Oakland are merely cities I’ve passed through on my way to somewhere else.  I once spent six hours in Boston when my cruise ship stopped there on the way to Nova Scotia.  Detroit, Tampa Bay or Minneapolis?  Never been.  Toronto?  What’s that all “a-boot”?  And then there’s Chicago.  Ah…Chicago.  What memories. 

          lincolnparkzoo.jpg picture by lafmyers 

 

                                 

 

            

Yes, this Angels fan was born and partially raised in Chicago.  And while the Cubs are my #2 team (a distant #2), I hate the White Sox.  Why?  Well, that’s mostly because I am very good at holding a grudge.

                                 

And it just wouldn’t be a typical Angels / White Sox game if AJ Pierzynski didn’t do something to piss me off.  Did he really try to say Chone Figgins left 3rd base too early on a sac fly by Bobby Abreu in the 5th?!?  Figgy?  Base runner extraordinaire?  Are you kidding me?  Pierzynski is such a stinkin’ weasel.  But I’m getting ahead of myself.

            backitup.jpg picture by lafmyers

Okay, it’s hardly worth mentioning the minor issues John Lackey had early on, considering all that went wrong for White Sox starter Jose Contreras.  The 3rd inning proved to be his undoing as he walked Erick Aybar and Gary Matthews, Jr. to start the inning.  Jeff Mathis’s sac bunt moved them to 2nd and 3rd and then Figgy took a walk and the bases were loaded.  A wild pitch scored Aybar and Bobby Abreu scored two more with the first Angel hit of the night.  When Vladimir Guerrero came to the plate in his first game back from the DL, Contreras was understandably irritated but his next pitch nearly sent Vlady back to the DL when it came dangerously close to Vlady’s left ear.  When Contreras walked Vlady, his night was was over.  Unfortunately, the night wasn’t over for the White Sox and reliever Kevin Jepsen gave up back-to-back hits to Jayson Nix and Scott Podsenik that gave the Sox the walk-off win and brought the Angels’ five game win-streak to a grinding halt. 

    

In a game that only yielded 5 Angel hits, the bright spot had to be John Lackey’s 8 solid innings.  He gave up 4 runs on only 5 hits and probably could’ve lasted longer than his 113 pitches.  We’ll see how rookie Sean O’Sullivan does Wednesday night against Gavin Floyd.  O’Sullivan pitched a no-hitter, giving up just one walk in the 7th, in AAA last week.  He locates a mean fastball and has real poise on the mound.  I just hope we’ll be seeing more of the run support we saw in Minnesota. 

   

I must mention that earlier today the legendary Hank Aaron remarked about the recent leak of players’ names on the infamous 2003 drug test list.  He believes the entire list of 104 players who tested positive for performance enhancing substances should be released.  I completely agree with him.  My opinion is, that by releasing all of the names, Major League Baseball and its fans, as a community, can deal with the issue and hopefully move on.  But I also believe that full disclosure of the list is owed to all of the baseball greats, past and present, who have watched their long-standing records shattered in this steroid era.  They deserve to know whether or not their records were broken legitimately or with a little chemical “help”.  I think it’s only fair to Mr. Aaron and others like him who played the game and set those records without the assistance of performance enhancers.  Come on, Mr. Selig.  We all deserve to know.  Do the right thing.

 

Baseball…we mean clean!   

 

 

Agony and Ecstasy

Tonight (Tuesday) the Angels played their 99th game of the season.  As the game was ending, I began to think about what my state of mind was last year at this time.  Here are a few visuals that I feel accurately capture my mood at the end of July, 2008:

      

 

     

 

      

 

This season, things are a little different:

 

   

     

 

                      

 

Love hurts sometimes.  Not every season can be a walk in the park, right?  And Tuesday night was NO walk in the park, that’s for sure.  Jered Weaver seemed out of sorts in his circa 1980’s uniform in honor of Retro Night and the Indians scored 1 in the first and 1 in the second.  The Angels answered with 3 runs in the 3rd but the Indians were back for more and led 4-3 at the end of 5.  Weaver was out, Matt Palmer was in and he pitched 3 scoreless innings of relief, giving up only 1 hit.  Then came the 8th inning.  Erick Aybar was on, beating out the throw to first.  Bobby Abreu was a cool customer and patiently drew a walk.  (Pitching change.)  Juan Rivera singled into left field and Aybar scored the tying run.  Mike Napoli hit into a double-play, but Abreu moved to third.  (Pitching change.)  Maicer Izturis drew a walk of his own and Kendry Morales was up.  Guess what?  He walked too and the bases were loaded for Gary Matthews, Jr. who hit a solid, base-clearing double out to the wall.  Reggie Willits popped up to end the inning, but I had my insurance runs.  Or did I?

                             

 

Of course I did!  There wasn’t any way Brian Fuentes would blow TWO saves in as many nights, right?  He walks Andy Marte.  Asdrubal Cabrera hits a double.  Jamey Carroll hits a single and a run scores.  This. Is. Not. Happening.  Jason Bulger is feverishly warming up in the bullpen.  Sin-soo Choo walks and the bases are loaded with the go-ahead run on first.  Mike Scioscia sends Fuentes to the shower.  For the second night in a row, Fuentes not only blows the save, but fails to get a single out.  I must say, I’m shocked.  But now I’m praying for Bulger and a happy ending.  Bulger gets Victor Martinez to hit into a double-play and one more run scores.  Now the tying run’s at third.  Jhonny Peralta grounds out to Aybar and not only does Bulger get his first career save, good ol’ Matt Palmer ends up with the win, improving his record to 9-1!  What a completely different outcome from the previous night.  Ha!  Take that, Indians.  Just another Halo victory, my as$. 

                        

 

Baseball…it’s better out west.

 

 

Halos, Happiness and History

I probably could’ve used Ervin Santana’s new mouth guard for Wednesday night’s game with the Royals. 

                       

Even with these come-from-behind wins of late, I’ll admit to a little nail biting in the 8th inning when the Angels were down 6-4.  Maicer Izturis had tied it up with a seemingly effortless home run in the 3rd, but the Royals had come back and scored 3 in the 5th and 1 in the 6th.  The Angels were running out of outs when Mike Napoli tied it again with a 2 run shot.  Chone Figgins then climbed out of his Kansas City funk by hitting a bases-loaded double that scored 2.  It turned out to be a fun 5 run 5th and Justin Speier and Kevin Jepsen kept a lid on the Royals’ offense that had scored all 6 runs on Joe Saunders.  Brian Fuentes took over in the 9th, recorded his 30th save and secured a sweep of the Royals.  This forced me to ask the question:  Frankie Who?

               

A couple of notable events occured prior to Thursday night’s game with the Twins.  First, back home at the Big A for their series with Minnesota, the logo for the 2010 All-Star was unveiled.  Owner Arte Moreno, Mike Scioscia and Angels all-stars past and present were on hand for the unveiling.

     

Gotta love the halo and it’s obvious with just a glance, who will be hosting the game.  As far as logos go, I think it’s pretty cool.  I’d say it sure beats these: 

   b08.jpg picture by lafmyers

Meanwhile, on the south side of Chicago, White Sox fans were witnessing history as Mark Buehrle demonstrated pitching perfection!  In just 2 hours and 3 minutes, Buehrle recorded only the 18th perfect game in major league history.  Teammate Dewayne Wise’s amazing 9th inning catch robbed Tampa Bay’s Gape Kapler of a home run and helped seal the deal for Buehrle.  Along with Prez Obama (who personally called him), I congratulate him on this incredible baseball feat.      

                               Buehrle pitches perfect game 

Now, on to Thursday night’s game.  Jered Weaver took the mound and immediately ran into trouble.  The Twins, having been shown up by the A’s the previous night in a humiliating 16-1 loss, were going to respond by playing tough and they wasted no time scoring 3 runs.  But after a shaky start, Weaver settled right down and worked a full 7 innings, giving up only 1 additional run in the 6th.  The Angels tried to play catch up the entire game, scoring 2 in the 5th and 1 in the 6th.  Going into the 9th, the Angels were trailing by just 1 run until reliever Jason Bulger gave the Twins 2 walks and a hit that they used to score another run.  Down 2 runs in the bottom of the 9th, in typical fashion, Mr. Lucky asked me if Texas had the night off.  When I told him they did, he began to reply, “Good.  At least we’ll only lose 1/2…”  I cut him off and begged him to go to bed or I’d make other sleeping arrangements for him. 

         

He wouldn’t, but promised to be quiet.  And I was anything but, as Twins closer Joe Nathan begins to lose all control of the inning.  He walks Abreu and Morales flies out.  Then Nathan hits Napoli with a pitch and Aybar flies out.  Gary Matthews, Jr. drops one right into shallow center field and Abreu scores!  The Angels are down just one run now.  Howie Kendrick hits one back at Nathan who knocks it down but it continues past him and looks like it’s headed right for the 2nd baseman’s glove…BUT IT DOESN’T!!  Instead, it bounces OFF the bag and rolls toward right field and the TYING RUN SCORES!!  That’s when I knew the Angels would win the game. 

            

And they did with Napoli doing the RBI honors.  It was a fantastic game, and although we’re getting used to these Angels come-from-behind victories (they lead the MLB with 31), this had to be the most dramatic win yet.  Tonight, announcer Terry Smith’s tagline, “Just another Halo victory!” was a huge understatement!

 

Baseball…the relentless pursuit of perfection.  

 

 

A-OK in Oakland

Thursday night’s game, the first of four between the Angels and the A’s, came just in time.  After 99 hours without an Angels fix, I had assumed a fetal position on the couch and was having trouble operating the remote because my hands were shaking so badly.  My husband had tried pulling up old clips on the DVR (Garret Anderson’s 10 RBI game, Tim Salmon’s final at bat, etc.) but nothing was working and as the game began, my husband was on the phone with my mom and, although it’s all still a bit cloudy, I’m pretty sure I heard the word “intervention”. 

                           intervention.jpg intervention image by drewboy210

By the time Kendry Morales hit a two-run homer in the 2nd inning, I was sitting up, clear-eyed and relaxed.  What a great start to the second half of the season it was!  Ervin Santana was amazing in 8 full innings.  Granted, he’s got a terrific record against the Athletics, but something was different.  Could it be the mouth guard he was wearing when he took the mound? 

             

Is it possible that a little piece of plastic can make all the difference?  If it can, perhaps every Angels reliever should trade their cup for a mouth guard.  I say it couldn’t hurt to try.  (And every man reading this says it could hurt.  A lot.)

 

Well, maybe Joe Saunders could have borrowed Santana’s mouth guard on Friday night.  He wasn’t miserable, but he certainly wasn’t having a great night.  He gave up 5 runs into the 7th inning, walked 6 and only struck out 2 batters.  The Angels knocked Oakland starter Trevor Cahill out of the game in the 5th, but they weren’t able to get much of anything off of A’s relievers.  They were bested by the worst in the west.  Yuck.  At least the Twins took care of the Rangers.

                      twins.jpg picture by lafmyers

It looked as if the Angels were going to run away with Saturday’s game.  Chone Figgins started off the game with a home run, his second of the season.  The Angels’ bats came alive in the 3rd when they pounded A’s starter Vin Mazzaro for 6 runs.  But Jered Weaver wasn’t feeling good and it all caught up with him in the bottom of the 4th.  He was “nauseous and woozy” and gave the A’s a chance to close the gap when they scored 4 runs of their own.  But the Angels’ bullpen managed to keep a tight grip on the game and only allowed one additional run while the Angels scored 3 in the 7th.  The Angels won 11-6 and once again, the Twins beat the Rangers.

                            

Nothing could have prepared me for Sunday’s game.  Okay, so that sounds a little dramatic.  But seriously, the Angels had been hitting up a storm, they were sending John Lackey to the mound, they were playing the last place team in the west AND Oakland’s starter was a 21 year old rookie with a 5-7 record.  Sounded like…

      

…a piece of cake, right?  Totally wrong.  Talk about a pitching duel.  Lackey gave up the first of only 3 hits in inning #1 but Brett Anderson had retired 20 consecutive Angels batters and had a perfect game going into the 7th.  Then, with 2 outs, Bobby Abreu hit a single that just made it by SS Orlando Cabrera.  The crowd was on their feet to give props to Anderson and his 6 & 2/3 innings of perfect baseball.  But at this point, Lackey had his own shut-out going and it’s pretty easy to figure out who I was rooting for.  Anderson, who ultimately gave up only 2 hits, was replaced by Andrew Bailey after 8 and Lackey completed 9.  There were nothing but zeros across the scoreboard going into the 10th. 

            

And then, Bailey sent a fastball over the middle of the plate that Bobby Abreu sent deep, deep, deep over the right field wall and finally, the Angels were on the board.  The A’s came up in the bottom of the 10th and Brian Fuentes appeared on the mound, hoping to secure a win for Lackey and pick up his 28th save.  And that’s exactly what he did.  I kept checking in on the Rangers/Twins game, hoping for another Twins win.  Unfortunately, after a few extra innings of their own, the Rangers managed to come back and beat the Twins. 

                         

(Sorry, but I figured I owed it to my male readers after a video clip of one of their own taking a fastball to his junk.)

The Angels head to Kansas City 3 games ahead of the Rangers and 4 ahead of the Mariners.  The Royals have lost some steam since we faced them back in April but it’s still nice to know Zack Greinke will not be popping up in the rotation.  I know that makes me feel a little better.  But Angels fans know, it’s the teams that aren’t playing well that seem to present the bigger challenge to the Angels and the Royals come to mind first in this scenario so we shall see.  It’s been great to see the team hold up nicely with Torii and Vlady out.  Brandon Wood, Robb Quinlan and Gary Matthews, Jr. are helping out and the playing time they’re getting will only increase their productivity.  I am buckled in for the second half of this wild ride!

Now, because I am the proudest Bird Mom you will ever meet, I must mention that in the midst of all this mind-blowingly great baseball, we had a couple very important birthdays at our house.  Sushi, our Goffin’s cockatoo, turned 6 on Friday and her brother, Sunny, our sun conure, turned 8 on Saturday.  Here’s some quick videos of my babies! 

Some day I will tell you all the story of that little red radio and how it won Game 6 of the 2002 World Series. It did, it really did!

 

Baseball…the only way to fly!

 

 

The Force Was With Us

On Friday, the Evil Empire may have entered the Big A like this:

     Darth Vader walking off the field after thowing out the first pitch

But on Sunday afternoon, they left like this:

                  

Being swept by my Angels didn’t exactly destroy the Yankees, but I’m sure it had to be frustrating.  Considering the Yankees had taken 2 of 3 (with game 4 postponed due to rain) in their first meeting with the Angels back at the end of April, the Yankees may have even felt a bit more confident coming into Anaheim this weekend.  Or maybe not.

JETER:  He is here.
GIRARDI:  What makes you think so?
  
JETER:  A tremor in the force.   
GIRARDI:  Surely he must be dead by now.
JETER:  Don’t underestimate the Rally Monkey.  Seriously, Joe.  Don’t. 

           darth.jpg picture by lafmyers

Since the Rally Monkey doesn’t appear unless the Angels are trailing in later innings, he had a relatively quiet weekend although TMZ did spot him tossing back a few cold ones in a cantina on Tatooine.  And he thought his disguise would fool the paparazzi.

                             

The Yankees’ pitching was the biggest issue of the series.  CC Sabathia fared better than Chamberlain or Pettitte did before him.  His only real trouble came in the 4th inning when the Angels were able to score 4 runs.  He lasted almost a full 7 innings and the Angels were only able to score 1 additional run.  True to form, the Yankees battled right up to the end, but could not take advantage of loaded bases or a Kendry Morales error.  And credit must be given to John Lackey for giving up only 2 runs in 7 spectacular innings against the most lethal bats in the AL. 

                                  han.jpg picture by lafmyers

The Yankees combined for 31 hits in the series and were still swept.  That has to hurt.  But it’s got to make the Angels feel better after their ugly series with the Rangers.  The Angels had a total of 37 hits but were able to outscore the Yankees in the series, 29-18.  That significant difference was a combination of great base running and solid defense.  The Angels were also able to make the absolute most of errors made by the Yankees.  And with a team like the Yankees, if they’re going to hand you additional outs, you must capitalize or take a loss because they’re going to hit and they’re going to hit homers.  That’s pretty much a given.  Luckily, Mark Teixeira gave his former teammates minimal trouble this weekend. 

                

Tex didn’t have his usual big-gun bat going on and for that, I am most grateful.  I thought the chorus of boos that greeted him at every plate appearance was silly.  He & A-Rod dealt with the boos like this:

                      fans.jpg picture by lafmyers

Mark’s not a bad guy.  He’s just not a west coast guy and that’s okay.  For the most part, we all knew that.  I appreciate what he did for us last year and I wish him the best.  (Except in the post-season.  Kinda like his last post-season.)

                leia.jpg picture by lafmyers

All in all, it was a fantastic weekend for Angels fans and a real bummer for Yankees fans.  After Sunday’s game, Jane Heller (Confessions of a She-Fan) was overheard saying, “I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced.  Damn those freakin’ Halos.”

At least once in a while, a member of the Evil Empire will recognize the “evil” of their ways and decide it’s time to play for the good guys. 

                            

The force is strong with this one. 

 

 

Baseball…pleasing people the world over.