What team doesn’t expect a lot from the meat of their order? Who doesn’t want one of their big guns coming up to the plate with a couple men on and the game on the line? Let’s face it. With Torii Hunter, Vladimir Guerrero and Juan Rivera all on the DL, the Angels meat of the order has gone from looking like this:
to looking like this:
But not like some cheap fast-food burger…more like one of those really good restaurant burgers where the server asks you how you want it cooked. And you can get mushrooms on it. Or bleu cheese. Yum.
But much can be said for appetizers. Sometimes you get to the restaurant and you’re starving, so you quickly grab the menu and order a couple of appetizers and you start munching on a plate of tasty little morsels and before you know it, you’re so full you don’t even need to order an entree. Appetizers are delicious too and sometimes they’re just enough to get the job done.
But every once in a while, you just want dessert. Something decadent and rich to satisfy that sweet-tooth. Maybe drizzled with something on top or oozing with a creamy filling. Desserts are always less expensive than dinner but sometimes they sure do hit the spot, don’t they?
And then there are times when I go to a restaurant, I look over the menu and I still can’t make up my mind. I just don’t know what I’m in the mood for. That’s when I usually just go with whatever the chef recommends.
How can you go wrong? The Angels are a veritable buffet of baseball talent. In any given game, you just don’t know who will pack the biggest punch or pull off the unexpected. They are multi-talented and oh-so flexible. But more importantly, they’ve got chemistry and chemistry should never be underrated. This is a group of men that obviously enjoy playing together and have tremendous respect for each other. This hasn’t happened by chance. The Angels organization puts as much emphasis on personality and sportsmanship as it does talent and ability. We don’t hear about turmoil in the clubhouse or rivalry between players. This, with a team that has rotating outfielders, two catchers and has started a dozen pitchers. You’d think there would be reports of animosity or players jockeying for positions, but there’s none of that. All we see is a group of guys playing hard together, then celebrating together. Considering it wasn’t long ago that we watched this same group of guys mourning together, this recent streak of come-from-behind and edge-of-your-seat wins is all the more meaningful. If any team has come from behind this season, it’s the Angels. And this Angels fan is loving it.
Baseball…it’s what’s for dinner.
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”.
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.
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!
When I left work on Friday afternoon, the Angels were down 4 runs to the Yankees in the second game of their four game series. By the time I pulled into the parking lot at Fry’s to buy a new laptop, they were ahead by two runs after scoring 6 in the 6th. I shoved the newspaper ad in the computer guy’s face and said, “One of these, please!” and raced back out to the car. It was a good thing my windows were rolled up because I immediately let loose with a “Wooo hooo!” upon hearing they’d scored 3 more “insurance” runs in the 7th. I hopped back on the freeway for the 20 minute ride home, feeling good about the laptop and my Angels. 20 minutes later, I sat parked in front of my house, engine still running, in a complete state of shock as the Angels bullpen once again crumbled like a:
I didn’t want my neighbors seeing me beat my head against the steering wheel so I grabbed my new laptop and made a mad dash into the house. By the time I turned on the TV, the Yankees had scored 4 runs and I had a very ominous feeling that the Angels’ insurance runs weren’t going to be enough. Not even the “Ohmygosh…Mommy’s home!” squawks and kisses of my fids (feathered kids) could console me.
Sunny and Sushi…Angels fans since birth. Or hatch.
And I was right. New (well, to the Angels anyway) closer, Brian Fuentes, promptly loaded the bases in the 9th and gave up a walk-off 2 run hit to Jorge Posada. I knew this series with the Yankees was going to be tough but Friday night’s game was an excruciating test of my loyalty. And my unwavering devotion was rewarded ten-fold on Saturday!
Kendrick, Morales, Rivera and Wood each had a 2 hit game and helped the Angels score 5 runs on the mighty CC. Yankees fans saw their bullpen lose steam, something Angels fans have been experiencing all too frequently in the past few weeks. And even though the Yankees managed to squeeze out 3 more runs in the 9th, it wasn’t enough to pull out a win like they did the night before. But the most exciting part of the game was undoubtedly Matt Palmer, who in his fifth major league start could not be rattled by the star power at the plate or the sparkle of the new stadium as he retired 14 Yankee bats in a row! I’m sure Mike Scioscia (it’s really quite easy…SCI-O, SCI-A) couldn’t have been more tickled by Palmer’s performance as he came up to “pinch” pitch for the Angels’ ailing starters. He was unflappable, giving up only one run and three hits in 6 and 1/3 innings. Angels fans had a terrific Saturday and now have a new hero…Matt Palmer!
Baseball…because I’m worth it!