Tagged: Jason Bulger

The Boys of Bummer?

No, I’m not going to give my Angels a merciless tongue lashing.  I’m not going to dissect their lackluster performances in both of their losses to the Yankees either.  I will, instead, point out the single bright-shining event of the last few days.  The Angels gained a half game on the Rangers and their magic number is now 4. 

                               

And how did this happen?  My Angels had a day off.  Oh, and Oakland beat the pants off the Rangers, 12-3.  How else could it have happened?  My Angels have lost some steam and frankly, I’m baffled by it.

                       

The addition of Scott Kazmir to the starting rotation has done much to reinforce a slightly shaky starting rotation.  We’ve seen the bullpen find their groove with Jason Bulger, Kevin Jepsen, Darren Oliver and Matt Palmer providing solid relief.  They’ve continued to hit, though perhaps not on the grand scale we saw last month.  But most of the starting line-up continues to maintain batting averages hovering around the .300 mark.  They did out-hit the Yankees in the last two games but they’ve not been hitting in the clutch.  On Wednesday, the Angels went 0 for 10 with runners in scoring position!  It’s as if all of the “post-season preview” talk that surrounded their games with both the Yankees and the Red Sox, had a terrible effect on my Angels.  I certainly don’t have any medical experience (I do have a nifty box of Sponge Bob band-aids) but I’ve made my own diagnosis.

       

My Angels are suffering from a case of “post-season jitters” also known as the “championship chokes”.  We’ve seen the symptoms before: sudden lack of confidence, uncharacteristic sloppy base running, sudden onset of unexplained errors.  We know this is not typical of our usually sharp and on-the-ball (literally) Angels but it is an ailment we’ve seen in post-seasons past.  Maybe this bug has struck early this season?  And maybe, just maybe, it will run its course over the next week and be out of their system by the time the real play-offs start.  Wouldn’t that be perfect?

                                            

I want my Angels to show up in October brimming with confidence, bringing their A game and being the superstars I know they are.  I want bats blazing, lightning fast speed on the base pads and defensive plays being executed with the surgical precision that takes our breath away a second time when the re-play rolls. 

                                         

Let’s face it.  2002 was magical…from start to miraculous finish.  It cannot and will not ever be duplicated.  But I don’t know a single Angels fan who hasn’t had a “feeling” about this season.  There’s no denying it would be an amazing story of tragedy to triumph.  I’m not saying the Angels should win the World Series because Nick Adenhart died.  But I sure would love to see them win it for Nick.  That would be a story.  And my favorite stories all have happy endings. 

 

Baseball…make someone happy.

 

 

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,

                       dominatrix_2-1.jpg image by Spoookygirl

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. 

 

 

Agony and Ecstasy

Tonight (Tuesday) the Angels played their 99th game of the season.  As the game was ending, I began to think about what my state of mind was last year at this time.  Here are a few visuals that I feel accurately capture my mood at the end of July, 2008:

      

 

     

 

      

 

This season, things are a little different:

 

   

     

 

                      

 

Love hurts sometimes.  Not every season can be a walk in the park, right?  And Tuesday night was NO walk in the park, that’s for sure.  Jered Weaver seemed out of sorts in his circa 1980’s uniform in honor of Retro Night and the Indians scored 1 in the first and 1 in the second.  The Angels answered with 3 runs in the 3rd but the Indians were back for more and led 4-3 at the end of 5.  Weaver was out, Matt Palmer was in and he pitched 3 scoreless innings of relief, giving up only 1 hit.  Then came the 8th inning.  Erick Aybar was on, beating out the throw to first.  Bobby Abreu was a cool customer and patiently drew a walk.  (Pitching change.)  Juan Rivera singled into left field and Aybar scored the tying run.  Mike Napoli hit into a double-play, but Abreu moved to third.  (Pitching change.)  Maicer Izturis drew a walk of his own and Kendry Morales was up.  Guess what?  He walked too and the bases were loaded for Gary Matthews, Jr. who hit a solid, base-clearing double out to the wall.  Reggie Willits popped up to end the inning, but I had my insurance runs.  Or did I?

                             

 

Of course I did!  There wasn’t any way Brian Fuentes would blow TWO saves in as many nights, right?  He walks Andy Marte.  Asdrubal Cabrera hits a double.  Jamey Carroll hits a single and a run scores.  This. Is. Not. Happening.  Jason Bulger is feverishly warming up in the bullpen.  Sin-soo Choo walks and the bases are loaded with the go-ahead run on first.  Mike Scioscia sends Fuentes to the shower.  For the second night in a row, Fuentes not only blows the save, but fails to get a single out.  I must say, I’m shocked.  But now I’m praying for Bulger and a happy ending.  Bulger gets Victor Martinez to hit into a double-play and one more run scores.  Now the tying run’s at third.  Jhonny Peralta grounds out to Aybar and not only does Bulger get his first career save, good ol’ Matt Palmer ends up with the win, improving his record to 9-1!  What a completely different outcome from the previous night.  Ha!  Take that, Indians.  Just another Halo victory, my as$. 

                        

 

Baseball…it’s better out west.

 

 

Teamwork in Tampa

It was definitely a team effort Tuesday night when the Angels beat the Rays.  Jered Weaver was his usual reliable self and gave up 2 runs on 5 hits in 6 innings.  He admitted the Florida humidity got to him and sapped his strength.  He said had to change his jersey between innings because he was sweating so much.  Not the “dry heat” we’re used to here in So Cal.  Maybe the humidity moistened the rusty joints of the Angels hitters because they were able to combine for 12.  They scored 2 runs in the 1st, helped along by 2 boo boos committed by the Rays.

                           

Let’s face it.  With the AL’s worst bullpen, the Angels need to catch their breaks wherever they can get them.  In what ultimately was a one run game, watching Darren Oliver load the bases in the 7th and Jason Bulger give up a first pitch homerun to Ben Zobrist in the 8th, gave me my usual gameday anxiety.  The difference was, things actually went the Angels’ way.  When Carlos Pena hit a bullet down the right field line with the bases loaded, he should’ve had 3 RBIs.  Instead, Kendry Morales stuck his glove out and stopped that ball dead in its track.  He even looked a little surprised that the ball was in his glove as he stepped on first to double off Evan Longoria.  I had to replay it 3 times to believe it myself.

            

And Brian “The Closer Poser” Fuentes had to be grateful for that game-ending double-play because it’s not like he’s coming in throwing strikes.  Ironically, Jose Arredondo, who had my vote at the end of last season to take over when Frankie Rodriguez left, was sent back down to Salt Lake today, more depressing evidence of continuing bullpen woes.

                       

My feel-good guy of the season, Matt Palmer, has lost his spot in the starting rotation with Lackey, Santana and now Escobar all returning from the DL.  I’d like to see him get some innings of relief work.  He’s definitely proven himself and we’ve seen his ability to pitch his way out of real trouble, a skill that current relievers haven’t seemed to master.  Bottom line, he’s got the stuff so let him bring it!

                                             

Today was draft day.  Call me old-fashioned but I’m a huge fan of the draft.  I’m not talking sports.  I mean this draft:

                                  

In my line of work, I encounter hundreds of young men seeking employment.  On one end of the spectrum, I have to note gang affiliations based on neck tattoos and question gaps in previous employment due to time in the state pen.  On the other end, I have to get used to being called, “Ma’am” and hear about extensive and valuable training received while in the military.  Barring a Chinese invasion, I don’t see a mandatory draft being reinstated.  Too bad.  I’ve seen firsthand what a couple years of military service does for a young person.  I’ve seen the discipline, the self-esteem, the pride.  Before I’m labeled a war-mongering, right-winger (I’m not), let me ask you this: If you were a prospective employer, who would you rather I send you? 

                                     

Back to baseball…okay, as I said, the Angels must capitalize on any break that comes their way to compensate for their inconsistent bullpen.  They did tonight, turning Rays’ errors into runs.  With Texas taking a beating from Toronto (0-9), the gap is once again closing.  But this is far from a 2 team race as Oakland has steadily gained ground, winning 8 of their last 10, including a 7 game win streak.  In the east, the Red Sox and Yankees are battling head-to-head for the top spot and no one’s running away with it in the central.  It’s June and it’s still anyone’s game.

 

Baseball…never let them see you sweat.