Tagged: Ervin Santana

Clinch Was A Cinch!

Good morning, Angels fans!  It’s hard to believe that just a few days ago we were shaking our heads and wondering how the Angels’ storybook season had turned into one hot mess.  After losing two to the Yankees, followed by two losses to the A’s (including Saturday night’s monumental meltdown as the Angels blew a 9-2 lead to lose 15-10), it was a relief to see the Angels bounce back on Sunday with a respectable win.  But even that win couldn’t prepared me for what I witnessed Monday night at the Big A.

 

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Not only did the Angels clinch the top spot in the AL West, they did it with an exclamation point as they snuffed out the Rangers, 11-0.  Ervin Santana decided to make it a one man job, as he completed all 9 innings, giving up only 7 hits.  He had 2 strikeouts but they came at a crucial time, in the 6th when the Rangers had 2 in scoring position with only one out.  He had oodles of defense, including 3 double-plays.  Considering how dominant the Rangers have been in the west throughout the entire season, it just felt plain good to see the Angels play such a superior game.

 

        

 

The ensuing celebration was especially poignant as the team emerged from the locker room, sans cleats and soaked in champagne, to pay tribute to Nick Adenhart at the huge picture of Nick on the outfield wall.

 

         

 

I’m well aware that the road to the World Series is, once again, paved with Red Sox, but I’ve decided not to think about that right now.  I’d rather just enjoy the moment, celebrate in spirit with my Angels and consider what lies ahead later this week.  It’s been a long, trying season and everyone needs to let a little steam off right now…fans included!

When the last out was made Monday night, many of the players pointed toward the heavens in recognition of their missing Angel, Nick Adenhart.  I did the same thing only my missing Angel is my dad.  Dad and I would purchase our tickets in March and somehow, we almost always managed to pick the play-off deciding games.  For the first time in 9 years, I did not purchase a single ticket to any game this season.  I either was invited or given tickets to every game I attended.  I was invited to this momentous game about three weeks ago, well before anyone could have known this would be the night the Angels would become the AL West champs.  But once the magic number was reduced to 2 on Sunday, I knew I would be there to see the Angels clinch it on Monday night.  Thanks, Dad.  Oh, and just to be sure…I pulled out the World Series lucky red underwear.  I’m a firm believer in fate but I’m still really superstitious!

 

Baseball…winning is everything.

Throwing Them A Bone

I’m just kidding.  Continuing the theme of giving credit where credit is due, the Angels fought the good fight but were eventually done in by the Yankees stealing a page from the Angels’ play book. 

                                   

(Hey, wait a minute!  Is it me or does she look a little like Kate Hudson?) 

Chad Gaudin was rock-solid through the first 4 innings.  Ervin Santana had some struggles though he managed 7 strike-outs in his 6 innings.  By the time the Angels started to chip away at the Yankees’ 5 run lead, it turned out to be too little, too late.  Tied at the top of the 9th, the Yankees did exactly what they needed to get their go-ahead run and although Mariano Rivera looked a bit shaky, he was able to wrap up the win.  With the win (or the Rangers’ loss), the Yankees became the first team to secure their spot in the playoffs.  I look forward to an Angels / Yankees match-up in the ALCS.  (From my lips to God’s ears…!)

                             

Speaking of playoffs…the Rangers’ loss also took the Angels’ magic number to 5.  Tickets for the Angels’ possible appearance in the ALDS went on sale today.  I say possible because I’m certainly not going to jinx anything.  My MLB Angels Mastercard may or may not have come out of my wallet today.  I’m not telling.  Yet.  But I will say this, I did something five months ago that should guarantee my Angels make it to the World Series.  While I can’t talk about it (obviously), when it happens, I just hope I’ll get MY credit when credit is due.  I’m making a HUGE sacrifice for my Angels.  And my hubby thinks I’m doing it all for him.  Ha.

                         

Wednesday’s third and final regular season game with the Yankees is a day game.  Scott Kazmir faces off against AJ Burnett and I sincerely hope we can get Kazmir another win.  I saw news footage today of the first snow fall in Colorado but I can tell you it’s supposed to be a scorcher here in So. Cal.  The heat, combined with a 12:30 PM game time, will have the stands looking like the Royals are in town but I doubt the game will lack any of the excitement we’ve come to expect when the Bronx Bombers come to Anaheim.  Who’s ready for a re-match?

 

Baseball…life in motion.    

 

 

Win, Lose, Win and a New Angel

As planned, I headed out to the Big A for Wednesday’s day game, the last of three versus the Tigers.  With my Angels in danger of losing 4 in a row, I had my rally monkey in tow and was ready to help my guys turn it around. 

                                    

First of all, it was hot.  Really, really hot.  If you watched the game on TV, it I’m sure the stadium appeared to be practically empty.  That was because nearly everyone with field level seats retreated up to the shade of the terrace level.  Hardly any players were seen hanging out on the railing in front of the dugouts.  They too opted for the shade-covered benches instead. 

                       

It may have been sizzling, but that stadium was a big, steaming bowl of yummy goodness!  Torii Hunter had a two-run homer in the 1st, Joe Saunders looked great coming off the DL and we saw a couple great double-plays and Chone Figgins almost steal home.  (Okay, so he AND the crowd missed the 3rd base ump call time-out…it was still a kick to watch and would’ve been the highlight of the game if he’d pulled it off!)  Needless to say, I went to the game expecting a win and that’s exactly what I got. 

                              

Thursday night was another story.  We were treated to the pre-game ceremony as Brian Downing and Chuck Finley were inducted into the Angels’ Hall of Fame.  It was a very nice tribute to a couple of great players and the highlight reels were a trip down memory lane for everyone.  It just would’ve been nice if the Angels could’ve won.  Oh, and they didn’t just lose.  They were shut-out.  By Oakland.  Ugh.

                        

There’s not much to say about it.  Once the game started and it wasn’t about Brian Downing and Chuck Finley anymore, it was all about Trevor Cahill.  He was ON as he gave up just 2 hits in 7 full innings.  Michael Wuertz pitched a clean 8th and Andrew Bailey got the save, giving up one additional hit.  Ervin Santana had a decent outing himself, allowing the A’s only 2 runs in 6 innings and striking out six batters.  Matt Palmer provided 3 innings of perfect relief.  But the Angels’ offense just couldn’t get to Cahill.  Torii Hunter had to bunt to get on base.  I think that says it all.  I must mention the incredible play Maicer Izturis and Erick Aybar made in the 7th.  If you haven’t already seen it on a high-light reel (it was #1 play of the day on ESPN), you really should check it out:  Aybar and Izturis  These two don’t get nearly enough credit.  Even Torii Hunter called it one of the best plays he’s ever seen.  The crowd clearly recognized brilliance when they saw it.  

          

The game was another frustrating loss but it was a make-up game from April, the game that was to be played the night after Nick Adenhart’s tragic death.  The Angels had a dismal month of April so we’ll just say “technically” it was an April game and move on.

         

I’ll just say, Friday night’s game began like an April game but ended like a 2002 October game.  Kendry Morales had a solo HR in the 2nd but the A’s came right back and scored 5 runs in the 3rd after the Angels’ defense fumbled a couple of opportunities to get Trevor Bell out of the inning unscathed.  The Angels were trailing 2-6 in the bottom of the 7th when their bats caught fire and blew the game wide open with a 7 run inning which included a 3 run shot by, again, Kendry Morales.  When the smoke cleared, the Angels had won 11-7 and Kendry Morales had gone an amazing 5 for 5.  He had a pair of doubles to go with his pair of HRs and tied his career high of 6 RBIs. 

                    

Ummm, no Tex.  That’s SIX ribbies.  You need two hands for that one.

Overall, it was a terrific come-from-behind win that seemed to wake up my boys and get them going.  Combine the win with the Rangers’ loss to the Twins and the Angels are sitting 5 games ahead again.

                             

After hearing the rumors all day, it was announced during the game that the Angels had acquired lefty Scott Kazmir from the Rays.  Hopefully Kazmir will be just what the starting rotation needs to power through the rest of the season and beyond.  He seems to have worked through any physical issues and had a strong outing in his last start, going 6 innings and striking out 10.  In exchange for Kazmir, the Rays will get two promising prospects and…here’s the part that makes my stomach all queasy…”a player to be named later”.  Those, without a doubt, are words no baseball fan likes to hear. 

                  

For those Rays fans who are mourning Scott Kazmir’s departure, it looks like I’ll be in your shoes very shortly.  I know that being a fan means having to take the bad with the good.  And it’s never easy. 

 

Baseball…the road will never be the same.

 

 

Rays…A Drop of Golden Sun

My Angels completed their sweep of the Tampa Bay Rays today and it put me in such a chipper mood I thought I’d walk home from work.

 

Okay, not really.  But I was singing in the car the whole way.  Does that count?  It was a great series for many different reasons.  I’ll start with the obvious…we won all three games.  Monday night was a back and forth battle as each team took turns scoring all the way until the 7th inning when Vladimir Guerrero hit his second homer of the night. 

    

It was no ordinary homerun…it was Vlady’s 400th and as it turned out, was the game winner.  How cool is that?  Big Daddy Vlady is back!

Monday’s game may have been all about the offense, but Tuesday night’s game was a rubber match.  Ervin Santana went toe-to-toe with David Price but the Angels eventually got to Price whereas the Rays were left lifeless by Santana. 

                             

He threw a complete game giving up only 3 hits in the 6-0 shutout.  5 of the Angels’ 6 RBIs came courtesy of Jeff Mathis and Reggie Willits, hitting in the #8 and #9 spots.  Mathis came inches from having the Angels’ first grand slam of the season.  He and Willits were perfect in the clutch but truly the night belonged to Santana.  Ervin the All-Star is back!

Wednesday’s game marked the MLB debut of right-hander Trevor Bell.  The 22 year-old was impressive through 5 and 1/3.  The Angels were down 4-2 when Mike Scioscia pulled him but had Scioscia known what the Angels bats had in store for the second half of the game, I suspect he would’ve let Bell stick around. 

                              

In the bottom of the 6th, Gary Matthews, Jr. connected for a 3 run shot that literally got the ball rolling.  That was followed up with Howie Kendrick’s own 3 run homer in the bottom of the 7th, which turned out to be a 5 run inning.  Angels’ relievers allowed a combined 3 hits, 1 a solo HR to Pat Burrell given up by Jose Arredondo, who has rejoined the team after doing a little time in triple A.  With a final score of 10-5, it was just one of those games that was a blast to watch.  It had something for everyone, great pitching, great hitting, a few stolen bases and a couple of long balls thrown in for good measure.  And once again, we got to watch a rookie make it to the big time.  I always get a kick out of that.

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The Angels are traveling to Baltimore Thursday and on Friday they play the first of 20 consecutive games without a day off.  They are currently sitting 5 games ahead of the Rangers but I’d hardly call that a comfy cushion.  I’m just glad they’ve been playing well on the road as they meet up with the Orioles, Indians and Blue Jays during this next road trip.  I’m also loving the way each game is a sweet surprise as far who’s contributing the big hits.    And my Torii Hunter is expected to be ready for Saturday’s game.  I ask you, Angels fans…does it get any better???

                                                

 

Baseball…Play.  Laugh.  Grow.

 

 

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,

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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. 

 

 

The Blame Game

Let’s talk about Sunday’s game, shall we?  There isn’t any point in coming down hard on Ervin Santana for his miserable 3 and 2/3 innings.  Why bother bringing up Shane Loux’s not so stellar 3 innings?  And is there any reason whatsoever to mention the icy cold Halo bats?  No.  The Angels lost, and lost hard, in a 1-10 pouncing by the Twins in the final game of their four game series.  But I know exactly who to blame for this loss.

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Ooops.  My bad.  I had absolutely NO business even typing the word “eight” in my last post.  I should’ve known it’d be the kiss of death for the Angels’ 8 game win streak.  I guess I just got overly confident and really thought it would be okay to give my boys a little pat on the back for the incredible way they’d been playing lately.  I will not make the same mistake twice so if you wonder why I fail to mention a winning or hitting streak or any other kind of pattern that may develop the rest of the season, just remember this post.  I apologize to anyone and everyone who may have been adversely affected by Sunday’s loss.  To all those who rejoiced or otherwise celebrated my Angels’ misfortune?  I give you the bird (X 5).

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                                      (That’s Lucy, Lily, Lola, Liza and Leo-na.) 

At least I was spared the horror of it all.  My friend asked me to run to Long Beach with her to help her buy a new couch.  We left just as the game was starting and didn’t think we’d be gone long.  After five long hours in a large furniture warehouse that lacked A/C, we already knew it hadn’t gone well for the Angels because when we called home, Mr. Lucky (Bubba) and her son, Zachary (Little Bubba) would only say, “You aren’t going to like it.”  My friend remained optimistic and thought they might just be teasing us.  I knew they weren’t.  I am my husband’s polygraph machine.  I don’t even need to see his face.  I knew he was telling me the truth.  When we got back to the house, both Bubbas were at a neighbor’s so I began to play back the game on fast-forward.  Zachary stuck his head in the back door just as I got to Kendry Morales’s solo HR in the 4th.  He said, “Oh, so you saw their ONLY run?”  He slammed the door just in time and the remote control failed to smack him upside the head.  He’s quick, that kid.

                

I was looking forward to Monday night’s game with the Indians because the Angels have gotten very good at responding positively to an embarrassing smackdown.  Hmmm.  Joe Saunders gave up 2 runs in the top of the 2nd which didn’t rattle me at all.  Maybe one of those sweet come-from-behind wins was on the menu for tonight?

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When Juan Rivera, Kendry Morales and Mike Napoli had back-to-back-to-back solo shots in the bottom of the 2nd, it certainly appeared that way.  It wasn’t going to be easy as the Indians kept hitting and hitting and hitting.  Up 6-4 when closer Brian Fuentes came out in the 9th, things were looking good for the Angels.  With 17 straight saves in as many opportunities, Fuentes just needed to do his thing to lock in another W.  I won’t go into the gory details, but the Tribe had a couple long balls of their own left in them and the final score was 8-6, Indians.  Fuentes’s ERA jumped from 2.78 to 3.79 and he was unable to get a single out before being pulled.  Hey, he’s a man, NOT a machine!  Just like any closer out there (think Joe Nathan), he was bound to have a bad night and tonight he did.  I just hope he got it out of his system and can erase it from his mind.  The Angels really did minimize the damage with solid defense including 4 double-plays.  Had it been the Angels who got 20 hits, I have no doubt they would’ve scored WAY more than 8 runs.  See?  I knew there had to be a silver lining somewhere. 

                

 

Baseball…we’ll give you something to smile about!

 

 

Doubly Delicious!

Tuesday’s double-header with the Royals was everything Angels fans could’ve hoped for and more.  If the Angels’ pre-All-Star sweep of the Yankees and their 3 of 4 weekend in Oakland weren’t enough proof that they can absolutely get the job done without Super-Vlad and Torii Hunter in the lineup, then today’s games surely must have erased all doubt. 

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Today’s double-feature may as well have been called “The Erick Aybar Show” as he went an astounding 7 for 9 with a walk.  Each time he came to the plate, it wasn’t a question of IF he’d get a hit, but rather WHERE he’d hit the ball. 

    

In the first game, which the Angels won 8-5, the Angels struck first, scoring 3 runs in the 2nd inning.  They lost their lead in the 5th, but DH Mike Napoli tied it up with a solo HR that nearly crossed the state line.  Ervin Santana struck out 7 but gave up 5 earned runs in 6 innings.  Not exactly spectacular, but with run support coming almost entirely from the bottom half of the lineup, he had nothing to worry about.  Gary Matthews, Jr. and Reggie Willits (in only his 18th game of the season) each chipped in 2 RBIs, once again proving that you never know where the key hits will come from.  Darren Oliver and Kevin Jepsen provided solid relief and Brian Fuentes collected save #29 (still tops in the majors). 

                   

The nearly empty stands at Kaufmann Stadium began to fill up in anticipation of game 2.  I was curious to see what changes Mike Scioscia would be making on the field and in the lineup.  Howie Kendrick took over for Maicer Izturis at 2B, Willits switched from LF to RF, Robb Quinlan took over in LF and Bobby Abreu was the DH while Napoli caught for rookie Sean O’Sullivan.  O’Sullivan, who only had one strike-out, was helped along by some solid defense and only gave up 2 earned runs in 5 1/3 innings.  When Justin Speier took over in the 6th, the Angels had a 3-2 lead.  I’ve refrained from criticizing Speier for the mere fact that I really like the guy, but he’s been all over the place lately and I was feeling a little uneasy.  I told myself that if he did not have a good outing today, I’d have no choice but to “mention” it in my next post. 

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Luckily, for Justin’s sake, I have nothing but good things to report.  When he came in with 2 on and 1 out, he struck out 2…no problemo!  So, in the top of 7th, either just because they could or to give Fuentes the 9th inning off, the Angels busted the game wide open, scoring 7 runs.  Royals fans were alternately gasping, booing and finally, giving their team a wholly sarcastic standing ovation when the inning, mercifully, came to an end. 

            

As the song from “Les Miserables” goes, “A little fall of rain, can hardly hurt you now.”  I’m sure the Royals are wondering if perhaps they might have fared a bit better had they played in that TEENY, TINY BIT OF DRIZZLE that was happening last night.  Oh well.  Guess we’ll never know.  Fine by me! 

          

In a recent post, fellow blogger Jonestein opined as to whether it’s worth giving up future talent to rope in a “now” man in a bid to make it to (and win) a championship.  I suppose that would depend on whether or not Roy Halladay would report to the clubhouse with a backpack full of WS rings with your team’s logo on them.  Many think he would.  I happen to think quick fixes don’t always pan out.  One of my true joys of being an Angels fan has been the privilege to watch young talent make their way up through their amazing farm system and take the mound or have their first big league at bat. 

                          

There’s a special excitement that happens when cameras pan to the rookie’s parents in the stands and you can’t help but feel like you’re watching a baby’s first steps or witnessing the big break of a future Hall Of Famer.  This isn’t the first season Angels fans have seen an injury-ridden team helped out by young players who get that call and hop on a flight from Salt Lake City.  Sure, “going deep” is great but having depth can be greater.  A sole player can win a Cy Young award, Gold Glove or batting title.  But it takes a team to win a championship.  So, fellow fans…do you want the quick fix or are you in it for the long haul?  And how much does a fan’s perspective differ from an owner’s?  Seriously, who needs the ring more?   

 

Baseball…put our team to work for you!

 

 

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.

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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 Shame Game

So far this season it seems as if the Angels’ most effective motivator has been shame.  They don’t just regroup or bounce back from a narrow loss to play well.  No, they have to be absolutely smeared and humiliated by an opposing team to get their heads back on straight and then, miraculously, they embark on a really good run.  I sure hope this is the pattern.  If so, we can expect great things from the Angels in the upcoming series with the Yankees, because I don’t know what else you could call these last two games against Texas other than shameful. 

     shame.jpg picture by lafmyers

Tuesday night’s game started out innocently enough.  John Lackey was pitching great into the 5th inning.  He had 2 outs, no one on base and the Angels were winning, 2-0.  Then it completely fell apart.  (You can’t tell me the “wave” had nothing to do with it.  Stupid wave.)  The 3 run home run Lackey gave up to Andruw Jones wasn’t as disturbing as the effect it seemed to have on him.  It really messed with his head and he wasn’t able to recover.

              head.jpg picture by lafmyers

The Rangers scored 6 runs before Jason Bulger could get the last out of the inning.  The Angels combined for 11 hits, but were down 4 runs in the 9th.  Juan Rivera made a valiant effort, hitting his second HR of the night in the 9th, but it was a solo shot.  The worst moment of the game had to be when Vladimir Guerrero left the field, limping from a strained muscle behind his knee…his good knee! 

                

Why???  With my ALL-STAR Torii Hunter already out of the line-up with a thigh injury, the Angels will be lacking some serious power at the plate.  The pressure will be on Juan Rivera, Kendry Morales and Bobby Abreu to provide some long balls, although as Jeff Mathis proved Monday night, with the Angels you never know where the key hits will come from.  I think Gary Matthews, Jr. will contribute as well, but he’ll need some more at bats to get going again.  In the meantime, maybe he can just keep stealing home.

          

Wednesday night, in the final game of the series with the Rangers, Santana was anything but smooth.  Like I said, I still have my doubts as to whether he’s 100% or not.  He seemed to have the velocity, but the Rangers took total advantage of his lack of command.  Leading the charge was Andruw Jones, who enjoyed a 3 HR night.  Yes, the same Mr. Jones who warmed the Dodgers’ bench for half of last season and posted a .158 batting average for the year.  He matched his total HR number from last season in this one game…3.  Hmmm.  I don’t know what he’s eating these days, but I’ll have what he’s having.

            

Joining in the Home Run Derby preview were Marlon Byrd and Taylor Teagarden who hit his first HR of the season.  I will not be joining in the cries to send Ervin Santana back down to triple A.  Provided he is indeed completely healthy, he will need a few more starts to get his rhythm back.  I’d rather see that happen now than in September.  We’ve seen him work out of a funk and turn back into the ace starter he’s capable of being.  The same goes for Lackey.  Do the Angels have to maintain an 8-10 game lead in the west to be considered successful?  Is it fair to expect that?  Have we forgotten that the Angels were the wild card when they won the World Series in 2002? 

                          

We’ve seen what happens when they have a comfortable lead in September and start “phoning it in” until the end of the regular season.  They were not rested and ready for the play-offs last year at all.  They were disjointed and lackadaisical.  Clutching and clawing for first place may work much better for the Angels in the long run.  Taking a look at the standings, it appears there will be a whole lot of clutching and clawing going on everywhere.  And that’s what makes a great season.   

 

Baseball…something special in the air.

 

 

Playing Catch (Up)

While life might sometimes get in the way of blogging, there isn’t much that can come between me and my Angels baseball.  Only one person has ever caused me to change the channel in the middle of an Angels game.  Michael Myers. 

                             

 

No, not him.

 

                              

 

No, not him either but it’s close.  The Michael Myers I’m referring to stood before God and everyone and vowed to love, honor and cherish me…or something like that.  I don’t remember anything in his vows about ridiculing, mocking or laughing at my Angels but that’s exactly what he was doing last Wednesday night as the Angels were trailing Texas, 7-3.  I’d had enough of him and changed the channel.  When my husband goes fishing with his buddies, I don’t give him a hard time.  I encourage them to go and have fun and catch lots of fish.  I hold down the fort at the office so he can unwind without anything to worry about.  (Memo to Mr. Myers: Who did you call when you all got to Mexico and the travel company had gone bankrupt and you didn’t have your 6 hotel rooms??  And who spent 45 minutes on the phone with the travel agency and American Express??  Oh, that’s right…Mrs. Myers!)  When my husband hops on his Harley on a Saturday morning, I always tell him to be careful and have fun.  I’m very supportive of his hobbies and for the most part, he is of mine. Except when it comes to the Angels.   

     counselor.jpg picture by lafmyers

I know there are doctors who specialize in sports medicine but what about marriage counselors?  I suppose living with a fair-weather fan beats living with a Yankees fan or a Red Sox fan.  (That would never happen.  I do have standards.)  I almost had the last laugh when my friend called, rightfully assuming I’d be watching the game, and told me Juan Rivera had tied it in the 9th with a 3 run homer.  But alas, Hank Blalock’s walk-off dashed my hopes of making my hubby grovel, although I did interpret my foot rub the next morning as the peace offering it was intended to be. 

                              

And I will say, he has behaved ever since.  Thursday night’s game against the Orioles was all about John Lackey and Bobby Abreu.  Lackey gave up only 4 hits in a full 8 innings and Abreu had 2 HR’s and 4 RBI’s.  I only half-watched Friday night’s game as we had friends over for a marathon poker game.  The Angels lost but I won about $22.  I’ll be honest.  I didn’t expect a whole lot from Ervin Santana and I still have doubts that he’s 100%.  I hope he truly is and we begin to see the 2008 Santana rather than the 2007 version. 

       

Saturday’s game was a beautiful slug-fest!  While the Orioles were finished scoring their 4 runs in the 5th, the Angels used the same inning to get the party started.  3 in the 5th, 2 in the 7th and 6 in the 8th…I was loving every second of it.  The Angels won, 11-4, and a 17 hit game just felt good.  Sunday’s game, the final in the 4 game series with Baltimore, went back and forth for a while, and the game was tied 6-6 in the 7th.  But then the Orioles bullpen ran into some trouble and walked in 2 runs.  One more Angels run capped their 9-6 victory.  And wouldn’t you know it?  When all of Sunday’s games were over, the Angels and the Rangers were once again tied for first place in the west.  Which brings us to Monday night’s game.

   gunfight.jpg picture by lafmyers

The Rangers arrived for the showdown at the Big A.  At the end of the game, someone would have sole possession of first place.  This would be a big game…and I would be there.  (Mr. Myers would not.  No frickin’ way.)  I happily picked up my niece, Claire and we headed out to the stadium.  We debated whether her rally monkey, Pablo, would be joining us as he had been at the game Friday night and Claire was starting to think he might be cursed.  We decided he could come because we both had a feeling we wouldn’t be needing our monkeys at all.  Claire is 15 and is just as superstitious as her aunt.  I also think she’s inherited my psychic abilities as well.  We were sitting there when Jeff Mathis came to the plate in the 2nd, the Angels already losing 2-0.  She said he was going to hit a home run.  I said, “Oh, he’s not a real home run hitter so I’d settle for a double.”  Suddenly we were on our feet, watching the ball (I swear it seemed like it was in slow motion) sail over the wall.  A 3 run homer!  She totally called it.  Oh, and it was in the 2nd inning…

                              

…so free tacos!  2 more runs in the 3rd and 4 more in the 5th gave the Angels the win.  First place belongs to my Angels, and only my Angels. 

                             

Seeing the halo lit after an Angels win is a wonderful sight.  But as I cruised down the freeway Thursday night on the way to John Wayne airport to pick up my sister and my niece (Maddie, different niece but also an Angels fan), I couldn’t help but wonder why the Angels couldn’t spend a few bucks to replace the burned out bulbs.  It’s actually worse now than in the picture above.  I know the economy is tough and attendance is down a bit, but really.  Maybe they can pass the hat in the dug out?  It’s a bit embarrassing, don’t you think?

 

Baseball…we bring good things to life.