After a terrific come-from-behind win against the Dodgers on Friday night, I really thought the Angels would carry the momentum into Saturday and Sunday’s games. I was wrong. The Angels were undone by some pretty darn good Dodger pitching. Saturday was the much anticipated brother vs. brother match-up between Jeff and Jered Weaver.
By the end of the 2nd inning, the Angels had 2 runs off of Jeff and Jered had breezed through the first 2/3 of the Dodgers’ lineup. I mentioned to my husband that I felt bad for Jeff and if I was in Jered’s shoes, I might consider leaving a couple hanging over the plate so my brother wouldn’t be humiliated while I pitched another shut-out.
Yeah, I know. I can’t believe I said it either. I take full responsibility for the loss and know the blame lies squarely on my shoulders. Yes, we fans believe we yield that kind of power. (Too bad I can’t win more than $2 on lotto.) At least Mom and Dad Weaver ended up with a couple of nifty jerseys and memories of a moment in baseball history that could never have happened without them.
Sunday was another tough one. The Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw wasn’t exactly in the zone, but he managed to shut-out the Angels through 7. He struck out 5 and walked 4 and the Angels helped him out by leaving a gazillion men on base. (Okay, it was 12.) Like Saturday, they scored 2 runs off of Jonathan Broxton in the 9th, but came up short in the 3-5 loss.
I will say this, Juan Pierre has been able to do for the Dodgers what Jason Bay has done for the Red Sox…make people say, “Manny Who?” He may not be the home run hitter Manny is (he’s also not on any PEDs that we know of), but if there’s one thing he has that Manny doesn’t, clearly it’s speed. Not only does he fly around the bases, he runs down balls in left field that Manny couldn’t get to in a Porsche. What he lacks in long balls, he makes up for in stolen bases and defense. I’m not surprised he and Chone Figgins are close friends. They’re very similar…scrappy and speedy. It’ll be a real shame if Pierre ends up warming the bench when Mighty (cough, cough) Manny makes his glorious (choke, choke) return.
Have you had enough of interleague play yet? Oh well. There’re two more rounds and the Angels will host the Colorado Rockies tonight, then travel to the Arizona Diamondbacks for the weekend. The usually dominant American League has seen a bit more competition this year as we witnessed some unexpected upsets. The Nationals and the Marlins each took 2 from the Yankees, Houston got 2 on the Twins, the Braves swiped 1 from the Red Sox and the Giants helped the Angels gain ground in the west by taking 2 from the Rangers. Yes, for a few brief, shining hours yesterday, the Angels were tied for first place. Maybe Mike Scioscia can have another “discussion” with the team before the game tonight. I want to see my new and improved Angels back on the field. And I’d like to see Matt Palmer get win #7.
Baseball…it’s all the power you need.
When I saw Tim Lincecum take the mound for the Giants in Wednesday’s 3rd and final game with the Angels, I must admit I was a bit intrigued. I’d heard his name and knew he was the National League’s Cy Young Award winner last season. But my first thought was, he looked less like John Lackey or CC Sabathia and more like a 4th Jonas Brother (with a haircut and the right pair of skinny jeans).
I grabbed my laptop and did a quick ESPN player search. It took me all of 6.5 seconds to read over his stats, not that they’re not interesting, he just hasn’t exactly been around for very long. He breaks into the majors in 2007 and wins the Cy Young the next year?? By the way, he just turned 25 on Monday. I sat there and watched him pitch the 1st inning and was very impressed with his powerful delivery. This game would not be a walk in the AT&T Park for the Angels.
Sure enough, Lincecum was able to keep the newly explosive Angels’ bats awkwardly quiet. But Matt Palmer was able to do the same with the Giants and at the end of 6 innings, each pitcher had given up only 4 hits. The difference was, the Giants had managed to put together 2 runs, the Angels, only 1. When Palmer gave up a lead-off home run in the 7th, it was time for the relievers to give the Angels a chance to make a comeback.
At the top of the 8th, my ALL-STAR Torii Hunter stepped into the batter’s box. What? My Torii was supposed to be recovering from Monday night’s collision with the center field wall. He wasn’t expected to play again until Friday night and here he was pinch hitting. I just knew he’s get a hit, and he did. Next at bat? Another pinch hitter, another hit! This time it was Big Daddy Vlady Guerrero who has had to sit out much of the recent slugfests during interleague play. Chone Figgins, Erick Aybar and Juan Rivera all came through and when the 8th was over, the Angels were up 4-3 and Lincecum was on the hook for his first loss since April 12th. We just had to get through the 9th. Piece of cake, right? I don’t know. Why don’t we ask Brian Fuentes?
When Fuentes had the first batter in a 3-0 count, I had no choice but to hit “pause”. In each of their 5 previous wins, the Angels had scored first. That wasn’t the case in this game so they were poised for a great come-from-behind win and I just couldn’t bear to see it blown. After 5 minutes, I hit “play” and then quickly hit “fast forward”. If it was going to be bad, seeing it (and hearing it) in real-time would only make it more excruciating. But this is what I saw:
Suddenly “hump” day turned into “jump (for joy)” day and I was in Halo Heaven. Once again, I grabbed the laptop and clicked on the standings. There it was…1.5 games behind Texas. Sure, it was only a matter of hours before it said 2 again, but those few hours were the best of my week so far. The Angels can enjoy a well-deserved day off tomorrow before they face the Dodgers again. I am particularly looking forward to Saturday’s match-up between the Weaver Brothers. Seriously, how do you make an interleague freeway series just a little more interesting?
Baseball…where family comes first.
Don’t you just love irony? I sure do. Tuesday night was “Irish Night” at the Giants’ AT&T Park. And was it ever. Rookie Sean O’Sullivan made his major league debut as the Angels’ starter and turned out to be their pot of gold.
O’Sullivan had a shut-out working into the 7th inning when he finally gave up the only run the Giants would see. Luck had nothing to do with it as he struck out 5 and walked just one batter. The Giants could not figure him out and took advantage of a wild pitch to get a runner in scoring position. O’Sullivan is only 21 years old and I certainly wouldn’t have blamed him if he’d had some debut jitters, but he was too cool for school as he made pitch after pitch. Then, just to make it a little more interesting, he got his first major league hit when he slammed a bullet right at Giant’s 3rd baseman, Rich Aurilia, who couldn’t get his glove on it. He also had a chance to round the bases and score a run, just like John Lackey on Monday night, when Maicer Izturis followed up with his first home run of the season. Another night full of firsts!
Someone found Mike Napoli’s “ON” switch. Napoli’s recent struggles at the plate were erased from our memories with one swing of the bat as he unleashed a 3 run homer deep into the stands, just one of his 4 for 5 hits. It looks like Mike’s got his mojo back and his timing couldn’t be better with my ALL-STAR Torii Hunter missing from the line-up. My Torii body-slammed the centerfield wall Monday night, going after a line drive hit by Bengie Molina. Remember my motto, “Once an Angel, always an Angel…except for Jose Guillen”? I forgive you, Bengie. I know you didn’t mean to hurt my Torii. Thankfully, my Torii’s only injury was a couple of bruised ribs.
I say thankfully, because the sound of my Torii’s body impacting the wall could be heard all the way in the broadcast booth. I cringed every time they replayed it and I’m so glad he wasn’t hurt more seriously. He’s expected to be back on the field Friday as the Angels start another freeway series with the Dodgers. I’ll say it again…if my Torii Hunter isn’t the starting centerfielder in the All-Star Game it will only prove there is NO justice in this world! Count ’em, folks.
So, things are good in Halo-land right now. The Angels are riding their longest win streak of the season (again, do your own math…I’m not gonna jinx it), yet another rookie on the mound gave us much to cheer about and Matt Palmer will have another start Wednesday afternoon backed up by a bunch of guys who have rediscovered their long-ball swings. What could I possibly have to b*tch about???
I do read (some) message boards so I know the debate rages on: Rex Hudler & Steve Physioc vs. Rory & Mark. My vote rests squarely with Rex and Steve. I’ve heard Rex called a “shameless cheerleader”. I’ve been called the same thing and I hardly consider it an insult. He’s also been accused of “dumbing down” the game. Then call me stupid because I actually learn a thing or two from him and Steve. Not all fans who watch Angels games can spout stats or have any experience actually playing the game themselves. Heck, I’m happy when I get an AFLAC Trivia Question right! And let’s not forget the many young fans who enjoy watching the games. Few former pro athletes are as self-deprecating as Rex and I find it refreshing. He and Steve have genuine enthusiasm that comes from being true-red Angels fans and I like it. I don’t have much of a beef with Mark. I respect his experience and his resume in the majors and it certainly doesn’t hurt that he’s easy on the eyes. But Mark needs to understand that I will never find myself in the position to throw a slider, split-finger, sinker or curveball and to be completely honest, I can’t distinguish between the zillions of pitches he describes. I know only two: ball and strike. I sometimes find my eyes glassing over as he offers TMI for each pitch. Now, Rory? That guy knows how to push my buttons and he’s been doing it a lot lately. Did anyone else notice how he seemed to be getting excited Monday night as the Giants chipped away at an Angels’ 8 run lead? He says the wrong thing at the wrong time. Tonight it was, “The Giants haven’t had a base runner in scoring position yet.” The words were not even completely out of his mouth as a Giant hit second base. Talk about a jinx? With Rory, it’s not “if you build it, they will come”, it’s “if he says it, it will happen”. So, Rory, do me a favor, before you speak, ask yourself, “WWFD?” (What would fans do?) Please. Don’t make me pull out the duct tape.
Baseball…can you hear me now?
The taste of victory. It’s delicious, isn’t it? And I’m sure Angels fans all over the world are sleeping a bit better these days. Not only have we seen our team turn it around seemingly overnight, we’ve been enjoying many “firsts” associated with all of the recent wins.
We saw my ALL-STAR Torii Hunter hit 3 homers in a game for the first time on Saturday. Sunday gave us Jered Weaver’s first career shut-out. He went the distance and kept the Padres off the board, giving up only 5 hits. He lowered his ERA to 2.08 and is now second in all of baseball, behind Zack Greinke.
Monday night’s game with the Giants continued this trend of firsts. Sean Rodriguez had his first home run of the season. Big John Lackey took a turn at the plate and engaged in a 10 pitch duel with Barry Zito. Had he struck out at that point, I would’ve been happy just with him burning up that many pitches. Instead, he had a solid hit up the middle which also gave him his first RBI. Lackey had a chance to come around and score a run as the Angels exploded for 7 runs in the 4th, knocking Zito out of the game. Lackey went a full 7 innings, striking out a season high 10 and walking none. He had a comfortable 7 run lead that dwindled away to a 2 run lead in the 9th after Jepsen gave up a 3 run homer. But Brian Fuentes came in and got the last out. Thank you, Brian. That definitely helps.
And the firsts continue as rookie Sean O’Sullivan makes his major league debut on Tuesday, filling in for starter Ervin Santana who is experiencing some elbow pain. It’s a little disconcerting to now have the second starter back from rehab, who doesn’t seem to have rehabbed all the way. But I’m not going to panic. Matt Palmer has been a worthy substitute in the rotation and O’Sullivan had 16 wins last season with the Cucamonga Quakes. His pitching style has been described as being a lot like Jered Weaver’s, with great command of his fastball. At least his debut comes at a time when the Angels have seemed to remember how to hit and score lots of runs. The Angels have scored a total of 35 runs in their last 4 games. I’ll be rooting for the rookie, and with a name like Sean O’Sullivan, you know he’ll have the luck of the Irish with him!
With their sweep of the Padres and their win against the Giants Monday night, the Angels have a win streak going. Do your own math because I’m superstitious and don’t want to jinx it. It may not be a Colorado Rockies-type win streak, but it’s a WIN STREAK and right now, we’ll take it!
Baseball…manly, yes…but I like it too!
I’m not a fan of day games during the week. I have this thing called a job that gets in the way of being able to watch or listen to a live day game. And I just really like knowing that, after a mentally exhausting day at work, I can go home and lose myself in an Angels game at night. But a day game in the EST time zone? In my world, that comes dangerously close to the crack of dawn.
For most of their season, the Angels need to be at their peak at 7:00 PM PST, their typical home game time. Today, they had to be awake and alert to play their 3rd game in Toronto at 9:30 AM PST. If any of them had taken the field without their glove (or cup), I certainly would’ve understood. Yikes. Much to my relief, they either got plenty of rest or one of these:
They got right to work and threw 3 runs up on the board in the first inning, just as they’d done the night before. The Blue Jays were only able to piece together 2 runs out of the 7 hits John Lackey allowed them and the Angels had a 5-2 lead at the end of his 7 innings. Okay, I’m sure you’re expecting me to let the bullpen have it right about now.
But I won’t. Darren Oliver has been one of the most reliable relievers the Angels have. He just had a bad day, so the Jays took advantage and tied the game. But the difference today was, Oliver’s teammates picked up the slack for him and held onto the game. Howie Kendrick took the 9th inning as an opportunity to make up for an embarrassing base running error in Tuesday night’s game, when he lost count of the outs. He executed a perfect bunt to get on base and then scored the winning run while the Jays were otherwise occupied with their double-play. Nice.
Don’t let the picture fool you. I don’t think Overbay had even thrown the ball from first yet. So, no extra innings, the Angels took two in Toronto, the Rangers lost another in New York and although I couldn’t watch all of the action until I got home from work, by lunch time today I had a smile on my face and the Angels had a win in the bag. Now the Angels are on to Detroit while the Rangers have to take it to Boston. The gap has closed by 1 game. Onward and upward.
Congratulations to Randy Johnson on his 300th win. He becomes the 24th pitcher in baseball to record win #300 and only the 6th lefty to do so. Baseball fans across the country are celebrating this amazing accomplishment.
Baseball…taking you to new heights.