Well, they did it to us first. After Wednesday night’s shut-out of my Angels, I’m sure the Mariners were hoping to take Thursday’s game and split the series, 2-2. Instead, they were on the receiving end of a shut-out when the Angels brought a foolproof recipe for a win:
1 Joe Saunders, itching for a win after a miserable outing in Texas
3 Home Runs (If Vlad Guerrero is unavailable, substitute Juan
Rivera, Gary Matthews and Howie Kendrick)
1 pinch of Scot Shields
1 dash of Brian Fuentes
Blend all ingredients well. Spoon into a diamond-shaped dish and bake at 65 degrees for 2 hours and 46 minutes. Serve piping hot! Oh, and stick a fork in the opposing team…they’re DONE!
Mariners pitchers put up a good fight. They only yielded 5 hits to the Angels but 3 of them cleared the wall (Kendrick’s was caught by an Angels fan in the upper, upper deck) and made all the difference. With the Angels taking 3 of 4 in Seattle and the Tigers completing their 3 game sweep of the Rangers, the Angels are now only 2 games out of first place. They’re flying back to Southern California but will take a detour to Chavez Ravine as they meet the Dodgers for a 3 game “Freeway Series”.
When the Angels and Dodgers met up last season, they split their 6 games evenly. I still haven’t forgotten the June 28th game. It’s certainly hard to forget a loss to the Dodgers especially when the Dodgers didn’t get a single hit but still won the game! Remember it now? An error by Jered Weaver put Matt Kemp on first. An error by Jeff Mathis moved him to third. Kemp then scored on Blake DeWitt’s sac fly. It was one of the most bizarre games I’ve ever seen and was only the 5th time in modern baseball history that a game was won by a hitless team. I would really prefer none of that craziness this time around.
I usually don’t mind a little interleague action. The Angels take the opportunity to pad the old win column a bit and AL fans get a giggle or two as our pitchers take their turn in the batter’s box. Even their teammates find it difficult to suppress their laughter when someone like Big John Lackey goes down swinging. I’ve always thought pitchers should be better hitters or at least should have a pretty easy time drawing a walk. Wouldn’t you think blackjack dealers would be great blackjack players since they know what’s likely to come out of the shoe? (More “Lori Logic” as my husband calls it.) Instead, they slap on a batting helmet and provide some unintentional comedy.
The Angels will have to take this series with the Dodgers very seriously. While they spend the weekend going up against the best team in all of baseball (at the moment), the Rangers get to play the Astros. It’ll take the Angels’ A game to keep from losing any ground in the west. And we can always hope the Rangers are starting to run out of steam.
I must mention, the way the earth’s been shaking around here in Southern California coupled with the Yankees winning 9 in a row, has had me wondering if the apocalypse could be close at hand. But when David Ortiz finally hit a homerun, I decided it’s just coincidence and we’re beginning to return to normalcy.
Baseball…mmm, mmm good!
I’ll tell you how. By bouncing back in a HUGE way to beat the Red Sox! I’m still out of breath, what with all the pacing, jumping and fist pumping I was doing through the 9th. And I’m not sure my neighbors appreciated all the hooting and hollering. I just had to be sure Matt Palmer could hear me seven miles down the road at the Big A.
While Palmer started out shaky, giving up two runs in each of the first two innings, he settled right down and retired 19 consecutive batters! This, of course, gave him his first (and I can’t even believe I’m about to type these words for the third time in less than a week) complete game!
Matt Palmer is the Cinderella story of the MLB right now. He was the Giant’s 31st round draft pick back in 2002 and did not make a start in the majors until last August. He ended up having three starts that left him with an 0-2 record. He signed a minor league contract with the Angels in December and was invited to spring training. Even with the Angels being plagued with injuries and tragedy, it’s downright amazing that he even got called up. His two starts with the Salt Lake Bees left him with an 11.74 ERA, which makes what he’s doing now that much more amazing. Someone, somewhere saw something in him. He turned 30 while in spring training and was considering walking away from baseball to start a landscaping business.
He credits his wife with convincing him to stick it out a while longer. (Wives…they ARE always right, aren’t they?) And now everything’s coming up roses for Matt Palmer. Seriously. I have no doubt he had one chance, and only one, to prove himself. And that he has. Consider this:
4/23 – Palmer’s first start against the Tigers’ Edwin Jackson ($2.2 mil)
5/2 – Palmer’s second start against the Yankees’ CC Sabathia ($15.3 mil)
5/8 – Palmer’s third start against the Royals’ Gil Meche ($11.4 mil)
5/13 – Palmer’s fourth start against the Red Sox’s Tim Wakefield ($4 mil)
Matt Palmer’s 4-0 record? Priceless. I just hope he’s making California’s minimum wage since it’s higher than Utah’s. I really think next time Palmer has a start at the Big A, we should pass the hat. NOT this hat:
Not all the thrills happened on the mound. Down 4 runs in the 3rd, the Halos started to figure out Wakefield’s knuckle ball. They scored 5 runs in the inning, including a 3 run blast by Mike Napoli. You could see Palmer’s confidence return as he came out in the 4th. What a little run support can do! And my Torii Hunter had a solo HR in the 4th. (I am SO in love with him right now, I am seriously considering changing my name to Lorii.) Even fan favorite, Reggie Willits, subbing for Gary Matthews in right field, had an RBI.
I did get a little nervous when the Red Sox sent in reliever, Daniel Bard. “Honey, he’s a rookie,” my husband said, knowing how I feel about rookie pitchers. I am not lying when I say I always root for the rookie, even when he’s on the opposing team. It has to do with the soft spot I have for them, all alone on the mound, under the bright lights. Mom, Dad and the whole world are watching. I can’t bear to see a rookie pitcher choke. “I hope he does well,” I said sincerely. “But not too well.” I just don’t trust those Red Sox and prefer to have a double-digit lead going into the 9th. He struck out Mike Napoli with 3 fastballs. It’s a good thing they use those radar guns because I didn’t see the ball. Good for the rookie. I just hope we can trade for him before the play-off’s.
I’m sure all the fair-weather Angels fans are piling back on the bandwagon. Not only are they winning, they’re doing it in fine fashion, with three complete games in less than a week! Is there any baseball jargon for that? Three strikes in bowling is a turkey, three goals in hockey is a hat trick. I know! Let’s call it a THREE – ‘PLETE! Call it whatever you want. Obviously, the Angels starters had a meeting and decided if they want a win, they’re just going to have to go the distance and get it themselves. Where does this leave the Angel bullpen?
Baseball…ask about it at work.
Things are looking up for the Angels. At least it’s been less of a rollercoaster and more like:
They took 2 from Detroit, then lost 2 to the Mariners. But they won the last game of the series versus Seattle and then headed to Baltimore where they won both games of a two game series. Yes…that means they’ve put together a THREE game winning streak! Woo hoo!
Are so-called Angels fans still demanding Kendry Morales’ head on a platter? Hardly. The day after Angels Talk phone lines were clogged full of Kendry bashers, he had a 5 RBI game. He, Izturis, Kendrick, Matthews and the solidly reliable Hunter and Abreu, were getting it together and putting runs on the board. So, what’s an angry mob of “faux” fans to do? Without missing a beat, they turned their attention to Scotty Shields and the rest of the bullpen. And that’s when I get really mad.
There is no more lonely a job out there than that of a pitcher. I don’t have to spell out the misfortune that has befallen the Angels bullpen. If you really are a fan, you know exactly what the situation is. And if you really are a fan, you are kind and compassionate, not rude and belligerent. I, for one, am in awe of pitchers. What they do with a baseball and a grip defies all physics, if you ask me. Not to mention, I can’t hit a garbage can with an empty Fresca can from three paces away! I hate to disappoint the haters, but I must point out, the current three game win streak was due largely to Angels pitching. Maybe that’s why the mob was now focused on Erick Aybar after today’s game. It doesn’t matter that the Angels won. They’re NOT in first place in the west so someone must pay (at least according to the angry mob). Their cries of “Bring in Brandon Wood!” is reaching an Obama-like crescendo. Doesn’t anyone remember what happened when he came up in ’07? Wood will get his chance, and I hope for his sake he lives up to the hype this time. Why is it so easy for these half-hearted fans to dismiss a player like Aybar based on a handful of games?
Here we are, just hours away from the first of four games at the new Yankees Stadium. I’ll admit, Angels fans have always gotten a little (okay, a LOT) of satisfaction out of being able to smack those Yankees around a bit. Yeah, we refer to the Angels as “Yankee Kryptonite”. When it comes to playing the Yankees, we’ve always been able to have a superior attitude like, well…like Yankees fans have when playing anyone other than the Angels. But this series is going to be especially hard given the “David vs. Goliath” pitching match ups.
Fresh from his major league debut, Anthony Ortega will square off against A.J. Burnett. Matt Palmer will have his fifth major league start against C.C. Sabathia. Okay, I’m nervous just typing it. But have no doubt, I will be cheering for the rookies, as I always do. And if you “pretend” Angels fans can’t cut your team a little slack right now, then fine. This series against the Yankees couldn’t have come at a better time. These four games will be the true test of your real “fan-ness”. It’s survival of the fittest. If you are not a true-red Angels fan, your cover will be blown. Please keep in mind that I am much younger than this reference might indicate, but will the real Angels fans please stand up?
Baseball…where the rubber meets the road.
Last night’s game against the Tigers was my first visit back to the Big A this season. It was bittersweet. I didn’t have my Dad with me…but I had my Mom! This was the first time I’ve ever been to a baseball game with Mom and I thank my sister for getting us the tickets and making it happen. As we walked around the stadium before the game started, I had a chance to show Mom where Dad and I used to sit, where we’d have our picnics and just reminisce about the great times he and I shared. I had some anxiety all day, wondering if it would be too hard to be back at the stadium without him, but once I got in the parking lot, I was just fine. Baseball is such a sweet escape for me and I love being at the ballpark. I immediately felt my Dad was there too and I knew he was happy that we’d come to the game.
Ah, yes…the game. Once again, we had a solid start from Jered Weaver. When he left after 7, he had given up only 3 runs (2 of those runs were solo HR’s to Granderson) and the game was tied 3-3. But as Angel fans know, it’s not the starting pitchers who are an issue. The relievers have given up hit after hit, run after run, grand slam after grand slam…’nuff said. But Jose Arredondo took the mound and had a quick 8th inning and I know we all breathed a sigh of relief.
I often claim that I have sat in just about every section in the stadium. From the Diamond Club (great if it’s not a 98 degree day game), to the upper-upper-upper views (we like to call them the “halo” seats ’cause you’re closer to heaven), I thought I’d been all over that park. But last night I sat in a section I had not been in before.
They weren’t bad seats. We had a clear view of the plate and also had no trouble seeing Mike Scioscia get tossed by the umpire after he argued balls and strikes. But, when Gary Matthews, Jr., filling in for an injured Vlad Guerrero in right field, bobbled a ball right in front of us, I heard something I rarely have ever heard from Angels fans…jeering.
Whhhaaaatttt? Not here. Not Angels fans. NOT in front of my Mom! I’m not sure if I was more embarrassed or angry. It was probably an even combination of both. I’m not naive. I know it goes on. But honestly, it’s not something you hear often in Anaheim. We have a reputation for being the kinder, gentler fans in So Cal.
Then Matthews delivered the game winning RBI in the 8th and the same idiots who had heckled him were now high-fiving each other. Cut to the 9th inning. Brian Fuentes comes in to close and runs into a bit of K-Rod-esque trouble. And the grumbling returns. Matthews tries to run down a foul ball near the right field stands and when he misses, the name calling starts again. Are you kidding me? How many beers must one consume to have total memory failure after only half an inning? If only it could all be blamed on alcohol. A little earlier, three pre-teen boys had moved down a few rows and took the seats directly behind us. Now they decided to join in and began hurling insults at Matthews. I wasn’t embarrassed anymore. I was pissed. So, I turned around and said, “Tell me…what did you have to say when he hit the go-ahead RBI??” That shut them up real quick. That’s right…I told them. I turned back around in my seat, feeling just a little bit better until I heard my mother loudly reprimand me. “Leave those kids alone!” Thanks, Mom. You do remember I’m in my (early) 40’s now, don’t you? Even the rally monkey was embarrassed for me.
Fuentes finally got the third out, the halo was twinkling and everyone was happy. Or were they? After dropping Mom off, I was heading home and listening to Angels Talk on the radio. I couldn’t believe just 14 games into the season, “fans” were calling in saying Kendry Morales has got to go! And then it hit me. The heckling of Matthews, the jeering of Fuentes and now fans calling for a new first baseman (Newsflash: Teixiera was not going to be anything but a Yankee…so get over it!) minutes after the conclusion of game 14 of a 162 game season made it all so clear. We are spoiled. And we have been for a while. Just last season, the Angels only spent 8 days out of first place in the West. Now, the mighty Yankee Slayers are struggling and some of their fans don’t seem to be handling it well. I think I need Super Nanny to set these spoiled brats straight.
She can start with my husband, a textbook fair-weather fan. In nearly ten year of marriage, I’m pretty sure our biggest fights happened during baseball season. It’s easy to be a fan when your team is cruising to the play-offs. It takes a real fan to support a struggling team. My 95 year old grandfather is a shining example of this. Does he sometimes yell at the TV when the Cubs miss a double play? Sure. Does he get so mad he’d change the channel? Never. He’s true (Cubbie) blue. And everyone knows you can’t possibly be a true Angels fan without faith.
Baseball…we try harder.