Tuesday night’s game versus the Mariners featured the same pitching match-up that we saw last week up in Seattle…Scott Kazmir and Felix Hernandez. Again, Kazmir was solid, going 7 innings and giving up 1 run on 3 hits. And again, Kazmir’s performance failed to garner him a much deserved win. But at least this time the Angels were the victors, winning it walk-off style in the 10th. As much as I don’t particularly like close games, “closer” (and I must use that term loosely) Brian Fuentes, had better get some time on the mound in these last few weeks or he will be a liability in the post-season. The second pitch home run he gave up to Mike Sweeney that forced a 10th inning was really hard to watch. When he followed that up with two walks, Jason Bulger had to come in and rescue the inning and ultimately, the game.
Jered Weaver had a good night on Wednesday, striking out 8 in 6 and 1/3. In all fairness, Ian Snell and Jason Vargas weren’t too shabby either. The difference in the game was what happened with runners in scoring position. The Angels were 3 for 10 with a base clearing double from Kendry Morales in the first inning. The Mariners were 0 for 7. It was almost a good thing that Trevor Bell gave up a run in the top of the 9th. Brian Fuentes needed the practice…and got the save, number 40. Of course, this is my favorite 40:
As we dig deeper into this final stretch, I can’t help but think about how consumed I am with my Angels and baseball. Consider how everyday words are taken over by baseball fans and now only pertain to the game and the road to the championship:
Clinch – Really…isn’t it everyones’ favorite verb? What other word can elicit the ultimate sigh of relief from a baseball fan?
Division – Math term? I think not. There’s three in each league and that’s all that matters.
Wild Card – Has nothing to do with poker all though the term “Texas Hold ‘Em” may still apply.
Record – In this age of CDs and Ipods, this one’s easy. Wins and losses, plain and simple.
October – The only month that matters. April is a close second.
Yankees – Used to be only Scarlett O’Hara could make it sound like a curse word. Now we all can.
Let’s face it. Certain words hold special meanings for baseball fans during baseball season. Just last week my mom mentioned on the phone that she had bought an “Angel” something for my car. How very cool, I thought. It’ll be a great addition to my Angels license plate frame, Angels antenna ball and Angels window flag. I picked it up this weekend:
Ooops. Guess I forgot there are other kinds of angels. What can I say? It’s baseball season.
Baseball…we love to fly and it shows.
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 to admit I did not watch Friday night’s game. I, like most Americans, was glued to CNN watching that breaking news story that gripped the nation.
Scientists Confirm New “Bermuda Triangle”
Wichita, Kansas (AP) – Scientists from MIT have confirmed the existence of a new “Bermuda Triangle”. In response to disappearing aircraft, small watercraft and a number of farm tractors, scientists raced to the rural town of Fall River, outside of Wichita, to investigate the mysterious occurrences. “We detected the presence of some type of magnetic force field that is approximately two hundred miles wide,” Professor Stewart Bradley reported during a press conference Friday afternoon. Kent Hardy, an official with the FAA also provided more information regarding the rumor that a plane, believed to be transporting the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim from Orange County to Baltimore, had disappeared from radar Thursday evening only to suddenly reappear one hour later and landing without further incident in Baltimore. “Although exact details are not available, I can confirm that the plane disappeared from radar at approximately 8:00 PM, eastern time. We were able to reestablish contact one hour later although the crew reported nothing unusual had happened.” While scientists are insisting some kind of atmospheric phenomenon is responsible, Fall River residents are reporting the sighting of a large, unidentified flying object, circular in shape with bright colored lights. “I was bringing Paris and Nicole, my two dairy cows, into the barn when all of a sudden I saw this huge thing in the sky that looked like a ginormous Frisbee and that thing just sucked up that big old airplane!” Tucker “Tadpole” Johnston, Jr. claimed. Officials met the plane and interviewed all crew and passengers but no one recalled anything out of the ordinary happening during the flight. “Everything was normal,” Angels third baseman Chone Figgins told reporters. “We were singing 99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall like we always do to pass the time and then we all took a nap. But my belly button hurts.”
Now, I’m not saying this could have anything to do with the Angels losing Friday night to the Orioles 6-16, but at least now it makes sense. How else do you explain Jered Weaver giving up 6 runs in the first inning? The O’s scoring 7 runs in the 7th? It’s aliens, I tell you. Aliens.
By Saturday, the Angels were able to shake off any residual effects of the alien probing and were in top form, especially Big John Lackey who gave up one run in 7 rock-solid innings. The Orioles sent rookie Brian Matusz to the mound. Four of his five innings were shut-outs, but the Angels were able to score all 5 of their runs in the 3rd. Orioles relievers only gave up one hit in the last 3 and 1/3 innings. But the damage had been done. Lackey had his 99th career win, Brian Fuentes had his 33rd save of the season.
Sunday’s game was just plain crazy. I may as well start with the bottom of the 9th because that’s when Brian Fuentes blew the save and allowed the Orioles to tie it, 8-8. The Angels loaded the bases in the 11th and 12th innings and couldn’t score a run. Finally in the 13th, my Torii Hunter provided the go-ahead RBI but that was just the beginning of a 9 run inning (tied a MLB record, by the way) that had the Angels ultimately winning the marathon game, 17-8. As the Angels were having their run-fest, my mom called. Again, she was asking why the game wasn’t over when the Angels scored the first run of the inning in “overtime”. I think I have no choice but to get a Powerpoint presentation together for her. That’s okay. I was just impressed she was watching. And we were both impressed with the Angels.
Baseball…Kid tested. Mother approved.
The Angels poor showing against the Rangers in their three game series this weekend was definitely disappointing but it was hardly anything to go nuts about.
Friday night, Joe Saunders gave up 5 runs before being “rescued” from the mound after only 1 & 2/3 innings. He’s been placed on the 15 day DL which probably should have happened weeks ago. We all know what Saunders is capable of when he’s 100% and he deserves the chance to get back to 100%. With Matt Palmer available to make a few starts in the meantime, Saunders should take all the time he needs to be in top form for the home stretch in September, not to mention the post-season. Angels relievers did not have their best stuff and although it looked like a comeback was in the making when Maicer Izturis hit a 3 run homer in a 4-run 7th inning, the Angels came up short in the 11-6 loss.
I knew well in advance that I would not be watching Saturday afternoon’s game live. I set the DVR before hubby and I made the 1 & 1/2 hour trek up to the high desert for a BBQ with his family. While my family is all too aware of my “addiction”, his family thinks I’m perfectly normal and I intended to keep it that way. I’d simply watch the game when I got home and my secret would be safe. At least that was the plan.
Everything was going just fine. We were all gathered on the large back patio enjoying the sun, pool and company. Honestly, I was having such a good time I hadn’t even thought about the game. Then I went into the house to help Mr. Lucky assemble the salad we had brought. I walked into the kitchen and then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw it…a flash of red and crisp white uniforms against a backdrop of green, green grass. “Hey honey, I put the game on for you,” my hubby announced sweetly. “Why did you do that?” I asked, my voice quivering. “I thought you could just catch the score once in a while.” And an alcoholic can have a sip of wine. A shopaholic can just walk the mall. I should’ve shut it off. I know that now. As I tossed the salad, I kept glancing over at the TV. Top of the 3rd, (toss, toss) no score, (toss, toss) Jered Weaver looks good, (toss, toss).
I had to get out of there, go back outside and rejoin the party. And I did. I was doing just fine, out of sight, out of mind, right? A little while later, my brother-in-law came out of the house, carrying a large tray of mushroom burgers destined for the BBQ, when he announced, to no one in particular, “The game’s tied.” My pulse quickened and I heard myself say, “What’s the score?” It was barely a whisper and he didn’t hear me so I let it go, did a little of that yoga breathing to slow my heart rate down and resumed my conversation with my sister-in-law. We were sitting at a table under a large umbrella, a safe distance from the house, family room and TV. I had no way of knowing disaster was looming.
The patio door opened and out stepped my nephew’s doll of a new wife. “Hey, a guy in a red suit just hit a ball over a wall.” I didn’t mean to do it. It was honestly an involuntary reflex but what followed seemed to all happen in slow motion. I jumped up from the table sending my ice-filled cup of Fresca into the air and down the front of me, the metal patio chair flew backward, hitting the cement and startling my other nephew’s large dog who jumped backward, knocking my BBQ-ing brother-in-law off balance and right into the pool, followed by the burger he had been in the process of flipping. As I stood there, dripping in refreshing grapefruit diet soda, all eyes on me, I meekly smiled and said, “I’ll eat that one.”
Needless to say, the drive home was long…and quiet. I broke the awkward silence by asking my hubby why he turned the game on in the first place when I had promised to be good and wait to watch it at home. “I was trying to be nice,” he explained. “Yeah, but you know I have a problem, ” I whined. “At least the kids had fun diving for the burger…and your brother’s cell phone.” He didn’t respond.
Oh well. What mattered was the Angels won and Jered Weaver had a terrific game, matching his 11 strike-outs from his previous start. Of course, my hubby’s family probably won’t have me back up until sometime after October. Okay, so now they know I’m a little bit crazy when it comes to my Angels but I’m pretty sure they still like me way better than his first wife.
I suppose Sunday’s game was my real penance. I don’t know what the worst part of the 0-7 loss to the Rangers was. It was the first shut-out for the Angels since May 20th and an uncharacteristic 3 error game. Those errors proved mighty costly too. Derek Holland pitched a complete game and had a no hitter going into the 6th. The Angels would ultimately muster only 3 hits. Sadly, John Lackey’s 6 & 1/3 innings and 8 strike-outs garnered him a loss. While I’m still confident the Angels will prevail in the west, their 3-9 record against Texas so far this season is definitely frustrating. But Lackey himself put it in perspective for me. “They can beat us 18 times and if we play 19 games better against everyone else, it doesn’t matter.” He’s got a point. Still, with 2 more series against Texas in September, I’d love to see the Angels turn the tables on the Rangers much the way the Yankees were able to against the Red Sox this weekend. Sometime it’s an issue of pride.
Baseball…have it your way.
It wasn’t long ago that Angels fans were feeling complete panic after hearing that, not one but TWO, of their best players were headed to the DL.
Speculation began as to whether the Angels could keep up with the Rangers while Vladimir Guerrero and Torii Hunter spent time on the bench. But soon, Angels starters began to struggle. The starting rotation that had kept the Angels in contention in the first place, was having a tough time getting through 3 or 4 innings without giving up an almost insurmountable amount of runs. Joe Saunders, Ervin Santana and Jered Weaver have all been having problems with their precision and it isn’t pretty.
With the Rangers not giving up any ground, the Angels would have to rely on their offense to give their starters support and, hopefully, keep winning games. And they’ve responded to these latest challenges by putting up big numbers as we saw in this last 3 game series with the Twins. The Angels have become Masters of the Big Inning.
This was definitely the case when they scored 6 runs in the 11th inning on Friday night. “Well, that’s going to be a strange looking box score,” I thought to myself when it was over. Sure enough, my phone rang the next day.
Mom: I don’t get it.
Lucky Lori: Get what?
Mom: How did the Angels score 6 in overtime?
Lucky Lori: Well, they hit the ball and scored 6 runs. In extra innings, not overtime.
Mom: Don’t they just have to score one more to win?
Lucky Lori: If they were at home. They were in Minnesota.
Mom: Since when does the time zone have anything to do with it?
Lucky Lori: Since never. The home team gets to have another at bat.
Mom: How many times do they get to bat in overtime?
Lucky Lori: It’s extra innings, Mom. Overtime is football.
Mom: You know I hate football…ever since your father made me smuggle beer under my coat into the Rams game when I was seven months pregnant.
Lucky Lori: Aren’t you missing “Murder, She Wrote”?
Mom: Aren’t you pushing me to root for the Twins tomorrow?
But I had nothing to worry about. Not only did the Angels sweep the Twins, they did it with an exclamation point, scoring 35 runs in 3 games on 52 hits. 52 hits in 3 games?!? Who does that? All my Angels do. Everyone did their share. Bobby Abreu, Mike Napoli, Maicer Izturis, Juan Rivera and Sean Rodriguez each had a home run and Kendry Morales had three, two in Sunday’s game. Napoli went 4 for 6, Abreu and Rivera went 3 for 5 on Friday. Gary Matthews, Jr. and Napoli went 3 for 5 on Saturday and Morales went 3 for 5 on Sunday.
Starters Ervin Santana (Friday) and Joe Saunders (Saturday) each lasted 6 decent innings and had to be happy with the powerful offense that oozed from their teammates. On Sunday, Jered Weaver took the mound and stunned Angels fans with his new look.
Gone were the trademark flowing, golden locks. Perhaps in a Vlady-like bid to change his luck, Weaver opted for a buzz-cut. Did it work? Well, Weaver went 6 and 1/3 innings and struck-out 11 of the 24 batters he faced, a career high for him. I’d say it may have done the trick. I also think he looks less like Jeff Weaver’s brother now and more like another famous sibling. I can’t find any pics of him sans cap to show you a comparison, but once I do, I’ll post it. Who do you think he looks like with his not-so-beach-boy-bob?
The Angels are off on Monday then head to US Cellular Field to face the White Sox for 3. The last 3 game series in May didn’t go well for my Angels. They lost the first game 3-17 but did manage to pick up the last game. I’d love to see them power through the Sox and keep on rolling into their Texas series. Meanwhile, the Rangers will play 4 in Oakland. Let’s hope the Angels have plenty of hits left in the tank. Not only do they lead the MLB in hits with 1040, it’s been a blast to watch, hasn’t it?
Baseball…makes you look like you spent a fortune on your hair.
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.
I probably could’ve used Ervin Santana’s new mouth guard for Wednesday night’s game with the Royals.
Even with these come-from-behind wins of late, I’ll admit to a little nail biting in the 8th inning when the Angels were down 6-4. Maicer Izturis had tied it up with a seemingly effortless home run in the 3rd, but the Royals had come back and scored 3 in the 5th and 1 in the 6th. The Angels were running out of outs when Mike Napoli tied it again with a 2 run shot. Chone Figgins then climbed out of his Kansas City funk by hitting a bases-loaded double that scored 2. It turned out to be a fun 5 run 5th and Justin Speier and Kevin Jepsen kept a lid on the Royals’ offense that had scored all 6 runs on Joe Saunders. Brian Fuentes took over in the 9th, recorded his 30th save and secured a sweep of the Royals. This forced me to ask the question: Frankie Who?
A couple of notable events occured prior to Thursday night’s game with the Twins. First, back home at the Big A for their series with Minnesota, the logo for the 2010 All-Star was unveiled. Owner Arte Moreno, Mike Scioscia and Angels all-stars past and present were on hand for the unveiling.
Gotta love the halo and it’s obvious with just a glance, who will be hosting the game. As far as logos go, I think it’s pretty cool. I’d say it sure beats these:
Meanwhile, on the south side of Chicago, White Sox fans were witnessing history as Mark Buehrle demonstrated pitching perfection! In just 2 hours and 3 minutes, Buehrle recorded only the 18th perfect game in major league history. Teammate Dewayne Wise’s amazing 9th inning catch robbed Tampa Bay’s Gape Kapler of a home run and helped seal the deal for Buehrle. Along with Prez Obama (who personally called him), I congratulate him on this incredible baseball feat.
Now, on to Thursday night’s game. Jered Weaver took the mound and immediately ran into trouble. The Twins, having been shown up by the A’s the previous night in a humiliating 16-1 loss, were going to respond by playing tough and they wasted no time scoring 3 runs. But after a shaky start, Weaver settled right down and worked a full 7 innings, giving up only 1 additional run in the 6th. The Angels tried to play catch up the entire game, scoring 2 in the 5th and 1 in the 6th. Going into the 9th, the Angels were trailing by just 1 run until reliever Jason Bulger gave the Twins 2 walks and a hit that they used to score another run. Down 2 runs in the bottom of the 9th, in typical fashion, Mr. Lucky asked me if Texas had the night off. When I told him they did, he began to reply, “Good. At least we’ll only lose 1/2…” I cut him off and begged him to go to bed or I’d make other sleeping arrangements for him.
He wouldn’t, but promised to be quiet. And I was anything but, as Twins closer Joe Nathan begins to lose all control of the inning. He walks Abreu and Morales flies out. Then Nathan hits Napoli with a pitch and Aybar flies out. Gary Matthews, Jr. drops one right into shallow center field and Abreu scores! The Angels are down just one run now. Howie Kendrick hits one back at Nathan who knocks it down but it continues past him and looks like it’s headed right for the 2nd baseman’s glove…BUT IT DOESN’T!! Instead, it bounces OFF the bag and rolls toward right field and the TYING RUN SCORES!! That’s when I knew the Angels would win the game.
And they did with Napoli doing the RBI honors. It was a fantastic game, and although we’re getting used to these Angels come-from-behind victories (they lead the MLB with 31), this had to be the most dramatic win yet. Tonight, announcer Terry Smith’s tagline, “Just another Halo victory!” was a huge understatement!
Baseball…the relentless pursuit of perfection.
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”.
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.
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!
When I finally got to sit down in my air-conditioned family room to watch Saturday’s Angels/Yankees match-up, I was feeling a little bad for all the Angels fans in attendance at the Big A. Yankee, fans? Not so much…except for our Jane Heller (Confessions Of A She-Fan), who I knew had made the long drive down from Santa Barbara to see her beloved Yankees close up. It was the top of the fifth, 90+ degrees and the Angels were losing, 4 to 1.
As I counted my loot from our yard sale and applied cold aloe vera gel to my sunburned face, I said to myself, “Gee, if only my boys could have a fifth inning like last night!” Instead of rubbing my face, I might as well have been rubbing one of these:
My wish came true…and how! The Angels exploded all over Andy Pettitte as well as Yankees relievers, Dave Robertson, Brett Tomko and finally, Phil Coke. When the smoke cleared, the Angels had won, 14-8. Jered Weaver had his 10th win of the season and the home runs he gave up to A-Rod and the newest Yankee, Eric Hinske, were basically meaningless considering the crazy run support Weaver received from his teammates.
Somehow, some way, the Angels continue to be Yankee kryptonite. The funny thing is, it really doesn’t matter who the Angels are currently playing…they just need to win. The Rangers are battling it out with the Mariners within their own western division and winning will ideally keep the Angels on the top of the heap. But there’s no denying the Angels/Yankees rivalry, although the playing field (no pun intended) is certainly a bit more leveled than it was back in 2002 when the Angels’ total payroll was about 1/3478 of the Yankees’. The great financial divide between the two teams undoubtedly fueled the rivalry and was a definite source of pride when the bargain-basement Angels would wallop the elitist Bronx Bombers. Ironically, because owner Arte Moreno has loosened the purse strings to attract and compensate some of the best in the business, the Angels’ lack of success in the post-season has become a real bone of contention for fans.
It’s only natural that with big money comes big expectations. We’ve already witnessed, as the Angels struggled terribly early on in the season, how quickly some fans became cynical. Angels fans did not respond to the foibles of the 2002 Angels with disgust or frustration simply because they didn’t expect that rag-tag team to be real championship contenders. Sure, all fans hoped they could pull it off but it was hardly expected. If we adopt the notion that a team’s payroll should guarantee a championship season, we risk becoming the type of fans who live and breathe this philosophy. Simply put, we risk becoming Yankees fans.
Okay, here’s a little tidbit for all the Yankee fans I just ticked off: The $236 I made working my *ss off in the sizzling Southern California sun at my yard sale today doesn’t even come close to what I had to pay a plumber to come to my house at 7:00 PM on a Saturday night. But at least I have this: 2 Angels come-from-behind wins vs. the Yankees…priceless!
Baseball…what’s in your wallet?
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.