“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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
Angels Baseball…Fan Strong!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
It’s Friday and the Angels are about to face the Yankees. How does it get any better? None other than “Greg Brady” sings the National Anthem. Groovy.
Then the first inning started. Derek Jeter’s first-pitch double quickly turned into a 3-0 Yankee lead. Not so groovy. Somewhere, “Carol Brady” could be heard saying, “Oh, Mike (Scioscia)!” I was watching the game through the patio door while I sorted through boxes of crap for Saturday’s yard sale. Suddenly, the door slid open and my husband thrust his arm out, his hand wrapped tightly around my rally monkey’s neck. “Do you want to sell this?” he asked. Apparently I married a comedian. “No, but what kind of Harley do you have?” I asked him. “A Heritage, why?” he responded. “Oh, I just want to make sure I got it right in my Ebay listing.” He must learn not to mess with me or my monkey.
I wasn’t in a panic but I will admit I was a bit concerned. I was convinced Joe Saunders was due for a solid start but it didn’t look like that was happening. By the 4th inning, I was done sorting through stuff (and had vowed never to walk into a Target store or tune into QVC again) and went inside to really watch the game. The Angels were down 4-1. Juan Rivera had scored back in the 2nd off of Gary Matthews, Jr.’s 1000th career hit but now I felt like the Angels needed my undivided attention. The Yankees scored another run and I knew they didn’t need me as much as they needed Torii Hunter and Vladimir Guerrero. Then came the 5th inning.
Joe Saunders may have had his troubles in the early innings, but Joba Chamberlain saved his meltdown for the 5th. Trailing 5-1, Chone Figgins led off with a single. He stole second (of course) and scored on Bobby Abreu’s single. Juan Rivera was on after a bad throw to first by A-Rod that pulled Mark Teixeira off the bag. That left 2 on when Kendry Morales launched one over the center field wall to tie the game.
THAT finally quieted down the Yankee fans who had infiltrated my Big A in droves. But the fun wasn’t over yet. The Angels scored 2 more in the 6th and the Yankees responded with 1 of their own in the top of the 7th before Darren Oliver came in to get the final out and leave the bases full of pinstripes.
The phone rang in the bottom of the 7th after Derek Jeter dropped a pop-up. It was my friend who couldn’t believe what she’d just seen. It just so happens that Jeter is the only Yankee that I like. (Oh, besides Jose Molina…’cause once an Angel…you know the rest.) So, I actually felt bad for him…for about a millisecond! Little Erick Aybar’s 3 run homer was a thing of beauty and meant I could breathe just a bit easier in the 9th. Just a bit, though, because in their usual fashion, the Yankees did not go quietly and had 2 on when Brian Fuentes came in to get his 25th (MLB leading) save.
I don’t know what it is about the Yankees that seems to bring out the best in the Angels. It’s just a crazy phenomenon that can’t be explained. I’m certainly not going to get cocky. Torii’s out, Vlady’s out and tonight we saw Juan Rivera leave the game after hurting his leg after a misstep at first base. But like I mentioned in a recent post, with the Angels, you truly never know where the game-changing hits or defensive plays will come from. One thing I do know? If anyone can cool off the red-hot Yankees it’s my Angels.
Oh, and if anyone needs a microwave, drum set, coffee table or Harley Davidson Heritage, the sale starts at 8:00AM. Don’t worry about my rally monkey. He’s in protective custody.
Baseball…the pause that refreshes.
A weekend sweep of the Diamondbacks put the Angels in their rightful place…1st in the west!
I can’t say they deserved the ranking any earlier in the season. They looked woefully lost in April following the death of pitcher Nick Adenhart. They also had 3 of their ace starters on the DL and a bullpen that had a disturbing habit of giving games away in the final innings. There were cold bats, base running errors and a closer who had an extremely tough time finding the strike zone. But somehow, things came together and in recent weeks and we’ve seen the team really gel.
The Angels emerged from this final series with the Diamondbacks with the best record in the MLB for interleague play, 14-4. Anyone who wants to minimize that achievement needs to keep in mind that the Angels faced the Dodgers, the red-hot Rockies and the Giants, all of whom sent their very best to the mound.
I’m not at all surprised that the Angels are in sole possession of first place. I knew they’d get there eventually. Texas, Oakland and Seattle have all made instrumental changes to their teams that will keep this a tighter race than we’ve had in recent years. But I believe the Angels have that key formula that will take them all the way into the post-season.
They’ve got incredible defense, led by my ALL-STAR Torii Hunter, stealing HR’s and extra-base hits in center field. The infielders rarely fail to impress and have entertained us regularly with some amazing double-plays. The Angels’ offense is back on track with everyone in the line-up contributing from lead-off man, Chone Figgins, to their pitching staff who threw in a few hits of their own when given the chance during interleague play. The bullpen has settled down and closer Brian Fuentes has been outstanding during his latest outings. While this is all quite reassuring from a fan’s perspective, I believe the Angels once again have that one vital ingredient that has been lacking for the last few years.
Without real competition in the division, they haven’t needed it. Well, they’ve got competition now and the only way they’ll prevail is by having that one important element, that little bit of magic that carried them to a championship in 2002. What is it?
Baseball…it just tastes better.
I woke up Saturday feeling happy and hopeful. The sun was shining and the birds were singing (outside and in). Kelvim Escobar would be taking the mound that night in Detroit, which meant for the first time this season, the Angels’ starters were all healthy and rearing to go.
The Angels’ win on Friday night was their 3rd in a row. I was anticipating great things as I kept checking the clock all afternoon. Finally, at 3:40 PM, I headed to the bird room and grabbed the vacuum, a sure-fire way to kill 20 minutes. I vacuum that bird room every day, sometimes twice when they’re molting, and I know it takes exactly 20 minutes. Well, I’ll spare you the paper chewing, food bowl dumping, lovebird-on-the-loose details but needless to say, I got sidetracked and when I looked at the clock again it was 4:28 PM! What?!?!?
You know how sometimes you can miss the first 20 minutes of a movie and it’s no big deal? Yeah? Well, this wasn’t like that. I ran into the family room just in time to see Escobar throw the last pitch of the first inning. The score was 2-1, Tigers. While waiting for the 2nd inning to start, I had that talk in my head where I said, “Okay, Escobar. It’s only 2 runs. Now, just settle down and you’ll be fine.” He did and he was. Trouble was, Detroit’s Edwin Jackson had the same talk with himself and he ended up with a complete game…a 4 hitter! Escobar looked good through his 5 innings. Not bad, considering Lackey only managed 2 pitches in his first start and neither were strikes…remember? Angels’ relievers Bulger and Oliver, did their part to tame those Tigers and didn’t allow any more runs.
So, as it turned out, that 2-1 score at the end of the 1st inning was also the final score of the game. Super bummer.
Sunday morning was a little different. I dragged myself out of bed, (or rather was coaxed with a Jack-in-the-Box mango smoothie…thanks, honey) for the 10:00 AM game start. Perhaps I should’ve stayed in bed and instead, dreamed of an Angels win?
‘Cause it sure wasn’t happening in real life. It started off on a high note: the Angels scored 3 runs in the 1st including a solo HR by Chone Figgins, his first of the season, and a 2 run shot by Juan Rivera. After that, I expected Joe Saunders to hit the mound and just mow the Tigers down.
It didn’t quite happen that way. Angels’ pitchers walked 9 Tigers and sealed their fate when Bulger served up a grand slam to Clete Thomas that blew the 5-5 tied game wide open. The Angels managed one more run in the 9th but it was too little, too late.
I must mention that amid the doom and gloom, Bobby Abreu got his 2000th career hit, a double, sandwiched between the 2 HRs in the 1st inning. Congratulations to him on being the 257th player to hit this milestone.
The Angels are off Monday as they travel to Tampa Bay. At this point, I don’t know what to expect. While the Rays may be in 4th place in the east, they lead the MLB in runs scored (324) and stolen bases (91). Manager, Joe Maddon, a former apprentice of Mike Scioscia, likes to use the tricks of his old mentor against his former team.
Let’s just hope Scioscia has a few tricks of his own up his sleeve. With Texas taking 2 in Boston, we can’t afford to lose any more ground.
Baseball…we turn on ideas.
I know the Angels have a reputation for being one of the toughest teams in baseball. But just in case anyone hasn’t noticed, they’re not in first place in their division, they’ve managed one lousy 4 game win streak and they’re near the bottom of the list in home runs. No, I’m not picking on my boys. I’m merely pointing out to the rest of baseball that my Angels are really quite harmless.
So…why not save your Greinkes, your Sloweys, your Wakefields and your Verlanders for the Yankees, the Red Sox or the Rangers? Is it absolutely necessary to send your #1 and #2 starters out to the mound every time you face the Angels? Isn’t there some rookie you think is ready for his first start or a reliever filling in for someone on the DL? What’s that? No, you say? You want to keep sending your biggest gun to the front line to do battle with my Angels? Fine. If that’s the way it’s going to be, then I guess you leave us no choice. We’ll just have to hit you with one of these:
Or how ’bout one of these?
Oh yeah?? How ’bout one of THESE?
That’s right…with one nostril tied behind his back due to a persistent nose bleed, Ervin Santana still managed to battle toe-to-toe with the Tigers’ Justin Verlander in a pitching duel that had each team (and all of us fans) wondering who would blink first.
It was only after Fernando Rodney took over for Verlander in the 9th, that the Angels were able to score a couple of runs. Verlander was on fire for 8, allowing only 4 hits and striking out 7. Santana did his best to go the distance. He too had 7 strike-outs and was deep into a shut-out when he came back out in the 9th. Knowing what a tough week I’d had, he tried valiantly to keep me from having to endure an inning of Brian “The Closer Poser” Fuentes. But finally, weakened from losing countless gallons of blood during his 8 and 2/3 innings and having finally surrendered one solitary run, he could fight no more. And so he dragged himself, battered and still bleeding, from the battlefield. (Okay, Scioscia went out to the mound and brought Fuentes in for the final out.) I suddenly felt my own nose bleed coming on as my blood pressure began to skyrocket. I knew I had to do something, and fast! Using my telepathic powers (usually reserved for making Russian figure skaters bite it on a triple axel), I quickly sent a message to my Angels, begging them to get the last out any way they could. (Funny, my message came back from Fuentes as “undeliverable”.)
With runners on the corners, Curtis Granderson popped a foul ball toward the 3rd baseline seats. Chone Figgins had heard my message, loud and clear. Out of nowhere, Figgy came charging and made a diving catch in the 14th (or maybe the 2nd) row to end the game! He took a Tigers fan’s elbow to the mouth in the process, splitting his lip. That’s right…my
boys warriors aren’t afraid to bleed for a win! And when they bleed, they bleed Angels…umm…red.
Okay, so where was I? Like I said, there’s really no reason to bring out the heavy artillery for my Angels. Seriously, go look at their stats. No big deal. They’re certainly no threat. There are much bigger fish to fry. Don’t believe me, huh? Still gonna send out your best Cy Young candidates? Fine. Bring ’em on! Just don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Baseball…will you be ready?
And tonight it was delivered by the Angels’ Jered Weaver. At least the Jays got to feel what it was like for Angels batters at the plate on Tuesday. Weaver put on his own pitching exhibition against the hottest hitting team in baseball. When he’d completed 7 fantastic innings, giving up only 1 run on 3 hits, the bullpen had his back. Bulger and Arredondo each allowed only 1 hit in the innng they pitched. Weaver also had a career-high 10 strike-outs, but most importantly, he got the win. He’s been a bit ripped-off in the win department due to a flat offense but, refreshingly, that wasn’t the case tonight. The Angels had 3 runs on the board (including a 2 run homer by Bobby Abreu) before Weaver ever took the mound. That has to feel good.
My Torii Hunter had his first night off of the season and it was nice to see the Angels could still pound out a win without him on the roster. Chone Figgins has been so consistent in the lead-off spot, he could easily give Martha Stewart a run for her money when it comes to setting the table.
With his 60 hits and 26 walks, it’s unusual not to see Figgy make it over to first base. He went 3 for 5 tonight and contributed his own RBI. It was nice to see the Angels’ offense come together behind Weaver’s terrific outing. While they may not have moved up in the standings, they showed tonight that they’re capable of rebounding in grand style from a loss. The win also kept them above the .500 mark. I’d love to see them take this series with another win in less than 8 hours, when Lackey takes the mound. I’m crossing my fingers.
Tonight, I’ll just thank Canada for Mike Myers, Celine Dion, Canadian bacon and a much needed Angels win.
Baseball…for days like today.
Ha! Just kidding. Seriously, Angels fans can easily name a handful of other ball clubs they consider much bigger rivals than the Dodgers, (Rangers, A’s, Yankees, Red Sox, White Sox, etc.), but more on that tomorrow. Friday night’s game was not pretty and I would describe the winning team as the lesser of two evils.
It just so happens that the winning team was my Angels (yay for me), but it’s not a win anyone’s going to write home about. Even Chone Figgins, who turned out to be the star of the game, kinda owed his team that 2 RBI single in the 8th after a bit of botched base running in the 7th that kept him from turning his lead-off triple into the go-ahead run.
He definitely redeemed himself. No one else seemed to be able get a hit when it counted. The Angels were 2 for 17 with runners in scoring position, the Dodgers 1 for 14. Pitching decided this game and it was the Angels’ bullpen that managed to hold on until Figgie could bring the runs in. Jered Weaver threw 101 pitches in 5 innings and Clayton Kershaw, 97. It was all about the relievers after that…Speier, Oliver, Arredondo and Fuentes. My Torii Hunter made another 2 incredible catches including this one at the wall:
As he said after the game, he may not have brought the hits but he definitely deprived a few unfortunate Dodgers of their own. It was a long game and in the end it went our way. I’d love to see some real run support for John Lackey tomorrow night. Randy Wolf’s record (2-1) doesn’t really reflect how consistent he’s been lately, but his ERA does: 2.72. Uh oh. What’s that noise? I think I hear the wheels turning!
Yep…here it comes! “Lori Logic”!!! Six quality starts in a row? Looks like Randy-man’s in trouble. Poor thing. The odds just aren’t with him. But it sure looks good for Big John. We have to count his first start because it was really, really bad so that definitely figures into the logic. His second start? It was against the Mariners and he gave up 5 runs in 5 innings. Pretty stinky. And there you have it! Lackey’s got the odds in his pocket but I’ll say no more because, although I believe in my logic, I also believe in the jinx. So ssshhhh.
Oh, one quick question…after Erick Aybar failed to get the critical bunt down in the ALDS with Boston last year, don’t you think bunting practice should’ve been at the TOP of his “to do” list in spring training??
He failed miserably in two attempts tonight. Even the normally calm, cool and collected Mike Scioscia, had a hard time hiding his disappointment. When Aybar returned to the dugout after his second misfire, Scioscia turned his back and walked away. (I think he was counting to 10.)
Somebody’s in trouble. Hey, I think I just figure out who gets to clean up all of these:
Baseball…eat, spit, be happy.