Tagged: Joe Saunders

Numbers Game

I’m over it…last Wednesday’s hard-to-swallow “loss” to the Red Sox, that is.  I’ve no doubt that game was responsible for the ensuing migraine I suffered with for three days.  To all the Red Sox fans who so nobly pointed out that 1, bad calls happen in every game…sometimes they favor your team and sometimes they don’t, and 2, my boys gave up the game in the 6th inning, I must point out that if those calls in the 9th had gone the other way, I could’ve been saying the exact same thing to you (just substituting 7th for the 6th inning).  But I have no interest in reliving the game (or the headache) any further. 

     

Say what you want about Angels players.  Fans will always “dis”, talk smack and complain about players…whether they play on opposing teams or their own.  But when I hear derogatory comments about our “skipper” Mike Scioscia, I’m not going to keep quiet.  No one (or two or three) players can be credited with the success of the Angels in the past seven years.  The 2002 World Championship was won prior to Arte Moreno purchasing the team from Disney.  The turning point for the franchise undoubtedly came when Scioscia took over as manager.  He has the ability to make the most of a player’s talent, whether he’s a rookie or a seasoned veteran.  He has a gift for maintaining competitiveness, harmony and real sense of teamwork that is evident every time the Angels take the field.  He also if the most even-keeled manager I’ve ever seen.  I’m sometimes in awe of how he can keep his emotions in check even when total chaos is going on around him.    

           

Angels fans wonder how he manages to keep his composure and to be honest, sometimes we wish he’d have words with officials a little more often than he does.  But others disagree.  I’ve heard him called a “whiner”.  I recently read (and I honestly can’t remember where) that Scioscia has almost been ejected 16 times this season.  Almost been ejected??  How exactly is that conclusion reached?  Does the author of that statement have some kind of telepathic powers to read the minds of the umpires? 

                               

As for Scioscia making a remark to home plate umpire Rick Reed as they departed the field after Wednesday night’s game, I don’t care how professional or disciplined you are, I would have questioned Scioscia’s judgement had he NOT made a remark.  Sox fans would’ve expected at least that much from Terry Francona, I suspect, had the situation been reversed. 

                                

I can understand the animosity fans have for certain players.  I’m guilty of that myself (just a few…AJ Pierzynski, Jose Guillen, Vicente Padilla).  But why is it so difficult for fans to give other managers the respect they deserve?  Is it that hard to give credit where credit is due?  This hasn’t exactly been an easy season for the Angels.  They’ve overcome tremendous obstacles.  Without Mike Scioscia at the helm, lesser teams would have fallen apart and never been able to pull together and recover to claim first place in their division.  I don’t know how the rest of the season and the post-season will play out but I do know Scioscia is manager of the year material.  There’s no denying that.  I’m not saying Mike Scioscia is some kind of saint (no…he’s an angel…ha!) but he’s a class-act who has had a tremendous impact on the team and baseball in general.  Like I mentioned in an earlier post, we see Scioscia’s brand of small-ball being duplicated all over the league.  His influence is wide reaching, and rightly so.  He knows what he’s doing.  Period.

         New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi #27 takes pitcher Chien-Ming Wang #40 out of the game in the 5th inning against the Texas Rangers during their game on June 4, 2009 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Joe Girardi;Chien-Ming Wang    

Speaking of giving credit where credit’s due…Joe Girardi’s Yankees had a shaky start this season and trailed the Red Sox by 3 games at the All-Star break.  Of course, the “mack-daddy” lineup Girardi has to work with is even more evidence of a manager’s vital role in the success of a team.  You’d think a crew made up of the likes of A-Rod, Jeter, Tex, Swisher and Matsui would be able to win games just by merely taking the field.  But alas…it doesn’t always work that way, as the Yankees once again discovered in Anaheim Monday night. 

      New York Yankees starting pitcher Andy Pettitte sits in the dugout in the sixth inning of a baseball game against the Los Angeles Angels in Anaheim, Calif., Monday, Sept. 21, 2009. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Andy Pettitte had a pretty decent 6 inning outing for the Yankees.  Joe Saunders had a better 8 and 1/3 inning go of it and reluctantly left the mound with one out in the 9th.  The Yankees scored their only 2 runs on solo homers by A-Rod and Matsui.  Kendry Morales had his solo HR as a pinch hitter in the 7th.  The Angels’ 4 other runs would come from the usual piecing together of a few hits (Vladdy had 2 RBIs) and a Rob Quinlan walk.  While the Yankees were finally able to conquer the Red Sox this season, I don’t anticipate the same thing happening against my Angels.  The Yankees came into town needing just one win to clinch their playoff spot.  Their best bet of that happening is with a Rangers’ loss because, well…they’re playing the Angels… in Anaheim!  And we all know how that story usually ends.

     

So, we know that the Yankees’ magic number is 1.  And now, the Angels’ is 6.  Any combination of Angels’ wins and Rangers’ losses will secure a spot for my boys in the post-season.  Considering this is the Angels’ last home stand before the end of the season, It would be nice if they could clinch at home.  Then again, if they have to duke it out right up to the end and possibly carry some momentum into October, that wouldn’t be such a bad thing.  Clinching early and having some “resting” time hasn’t always worked out for the Angels.

    

 

I’d much rather see them stay on their toes.

 

                       

          

Baseball…vitalizes body and mind.

 

 

Call Me Crazy

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.

                tv.jpg picture by lafmyers

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.

       caution.jpg picture by lafmyers

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.

 

 

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.

    timeout.jpg picture by lafmyers

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).

                                untitledHSHSHSSSHS.jpg picture by lafmyers

                                      (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?

  menu.jpg picture by lafmyers

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!

 

 

Halos, Happiness and History

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: 

   b08.jpg picture by lafmyers

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.      

                               Buehrle pitches perfect game 

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.  

 

 

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.

                      twins.jpg picture by lafmyers

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!

 

 

It’s A Sunshine Day

It’s Friday and the Angels are about to face the Yankees.  How does it get any better?  None other than “Greg Brady” sings the National Anthem.  Groovy.

                         

Then the first inning started.  Derek Jeter’s first-pitch double quickly turned into a 3-0 Yankee lead.  Not so groovy.  Somewhere, “Carol Brady” could be heard saying, “Oh, Mike (Scioscia)!”  I was watching the game through the patio door while I sorted through boxes of crap for Saturday’s yard sale.  Suddenly, the door slid open and my husband thrust his arm out, his hand wrapped tightly around my rally monkey’s neck.  “Do you want to sell this?” he asked.  Apparently I married a comedian.  “No, but what kind of Harley do you have?” I asked him.  “A Heritage, why?” he responded.  “Oh, I just want to make sure I got it right in my Ebay listing.”  He must learn not to mess with me or my monkey.   

               

I wasn’t in a panic but I will admit I was a bit concerned.  I was convinced Joe Saunders was due for a solid start but it didn’t look like that was happening.  By the 4th inning, I was done sorting through stuff (and had vowed never to walk into a Target store or tune into QVC again) and went inside to really watch the game.  The Angels were down 4-1.  Juan Rivera had scored back in the 2nd off of Gary Matthews, Jr.’s 1000th career hit but now I felt like the Angels needed my undivided attention.  The Yankees scored another run and I knew they didn’t need me as much as they needed Torii Hunter and Vladimir Guerrero.  Then came the 5th inning.

            

Joe Saunders may have had his troubles in the early innings, but Joba Chamberlain saved his meltdown for the 5th.  Trailing 5-1, Chone Figgins led off with a single.  He stole second (of course) and scored on Bobby Abreu’s single.  Juan Rivera was on after a bad throw to first by A-Rod that pulled Mark Teixeira off the bag.  That left 2 on when Kendry Morales launched one over the center field wall to tie the game. 

                        

THAT finally quieted down the Yankee fans who had infiltrated my Big A in droves.  But the fun wasn’t over yet.  The Angels scored 2 more in the 6th and the Yankees responded with 1 of their own in the top of the 7th before Darren Oliver came in to get the final out and leave the bases full of pinstripes. 

                                         

The phone rang in the bottom of the 7th after Derek Jeter dropped a pop-up.  It was my friend who couldn’t believe what she’d just seen.  It just so happens that Jeter is the only Yankee that I like.  (Oh, besides Jose Molina…’cause once an Angel…you know the rest.)  So, I actually felt bad for him…for about a millisecond!  Little Erick Aybar’s 3 run homer was a thing of beauty and meant I could breathe just a bit easier in the 9th.  Just a bit, though, because in their usual fashion, the Yankees did not go quietly and had 2 on when Brian Fuentes came in to get his 25th (MLB leading) save. 

                         lifesaver.png picture by lafmyers

I don’t know what it is about the Yankees that seems to bring out the best in the Angels.  It’s just a crazy phenomenon that can’t be explained.  I’m certainly not going to get cocky.  Torii’s out, Vlady’s out and tonight we saw Juan Rivera leave the game after hurting his leg after a misstep at first base.  But like I mentioned in a recent post, with the Angels, you truly never know where the game-changing hits or defensive plays will come from.  One thing I do know? If anyone can cool off the red-hot Yankees it’s my Angels. 

                      

Oh, and if anyone needs a microwave, drum set, coffee table or Harley Davidson Heritage, the sale starts at 8:00AM.  Don’t worry about my rally monkey.  He’s in protective custody.

 

Baseball…the pause that refreshes.

 

 

Just To Keep It Interesting

Monday night’s game in Texas pitted the Angels’ rookie Sean O’Sullivan against the Rangers’ resident headhunter, Vicente Padilla. 

          

I’d heard he’d been pitching better since being optioned by the Rangers.  He had little trouble keeping the Angels in check through 3 but gave up a few hits that the Angels put together for their first run of the game.  O’Sullivan had given up back-to-back homers in the 3rd but managed to shake it off and not allow any further damage.  In the 6th inning, the Angels exploded all over Padilla and sent him packing. 

                

The Angels scored 4 runs, including a 2 run shot by Juan Rivera and a solo HR by Kendry Morales.  The Angels defense was hot and the bullpen was slick.

                 

There was no fooling around there and closer Brian Fuentes notched #22 in his save belt.  (Thank you, Brian.)  At the end of the game, the Angels were 2.5 games up in the west.  Tuesday night was a different story.  Starter Joe Saunders was not on his game.  It was obvious from the very start.  Saunders gave out homeruns like candy to trick-or-treaters. 

                                     

Only the Rangers didn’t have to say “please” or “thank you”.  Saunders lasted just 3 and 2/3 and had allowed 8 earned runs, 4 of those homers…the most in a single outing in his career.  Forget Halloween.  The Rangers can consider this game an early Christmas present.  While I’m sure the Rangers felt like this:

                                   

I felt a little more like this:

        

But I won’t despair.  It could’ve been worse.  As the Angels launched their last-ditch effort in the 9th, loading the bases and scoring 2 runs, the announcers made it clear that anything was possible.  Their example?  The Orioles had been down 10-1 to the Red Sox and had just come back to win that game 11-10.  Now that made me feel better. 

 

Baseball…fair and balanced.

 

 

Rockin’ and Rollin’

I decided to head out to the Big A on Wednesday night to check up on my boys in person.  After a couple of poor showings against the Dodgers and a smackdown by the Rockies on Monday night, I thought my presence might make a difference.  (Because, again, we fans know just how powerful we are.)

                            

Upon entering the stadium, my husband and I received cute little Angels coolers, the promotional giveaway.  It’s just perfect for packing my bottled water and Crystal Light next time we head out to a game.  Cute and free.  Love it.  As we lingered just inside gate 2, waiting to talk to our favorite security person, Dina, we were approached by a guy conducting a survey about stadium advertising.  My husband was first and when he completed the survey, he received a coupon for a 12 pack of any Pepsi product.  Cool.  More free stuff.

              

I was next.  Not only did I know exactly who advertises in the stadium, I was able to tell the guy where each sign was.  He was impressed and rewarded me with a pair of tickets to the July 6th game versus the Rangers.  Super cool!  The game hadn’t even started and already we were making out like bandits.  This had to be a good omen.  It was.

                            

Just a day after cutting off all his hair in a bid to change his luck, Big Daddy Vlady went deep…finally!!  If I’d only known what a difference I could make by being there, I would’ve shown up weeks ago, believe me.  It was a great night for the Angels.  Joe Saunders gave up 4 hits in 6 innings, they scored 11 runs on 11 hits, Bobby Abreu and Juan Rivera contributed a couple of outfield assists and overall, they looked like the new and improved Angels I was hoping to see.  Oh, and Vlady’s home run?  It came in the 2nd inning.  You know what that means.  More free stuff! 

                

 

Baseball…we’re cooking now!

 

 

Dodger Blues

The standings don’t always tell the story.  While there’s no denying the Dodgers have a good thing going, the Angels have kicked it into high gear.  Best thing to do?  Step aside. 

                  

When Joe Saunders faltered, the Dodgers were on the board first with a run coming by way of a walk.  Heck, who wouldn’t like to have a run handed to them?  It’s all good, but the Angels prefer to score their runs the old-fashioned way…with a bat.  The Dodgers scored 3 more runs, including a homerun by James Loney.  Both Saunders and the Dodgers’ Chad Billingsley gave up 4 runs on 6 hits before they were pulled in the 6th, respectable outings but neither would see a decision.  Juan Rivera would settle that when he went deep off of Guillermo Mota in the 8th. 

     Juan Rivera, Dino Ebel

Angels fans, who I suspect had grown tired of the “Let’s go Dodgers!” cheers coming from the Dodger fans who had infiltrated the Big A, were so appreciative of Rivera’s, they insisted on a curtain call.  It was a great moment in an overall fantastic game. 

The only downside? 

             rorymark2.jpg picture by lafmyers

No Rex and Steve.  I was bitterly disappointed as I was sure they’d be taking over for this homestand.  What happened to taking turns?  And when Rory and Mark had AM 830’s Roger Lodge join them in the booth for the 5th inning, I thought my head would explode.  The ridiculous chatter these three had going on was worse than a rally-killing wave as the Dodgers scored 2 runs while we learned that Lodge played basketball at Whittier College, had an appearance on “General Hospital”, thinks the Dodgers are a really good team, is happy about the Lakers’ championship and has lots of opinions on who should be USC’s new basketball coach.  Give me a freaking break!!

                   

I will be sending a fax to the Angels front office because it’s only June and I honestly can’t take much more of this.  We fans have already been through the torture that we’ll call April.  Why, when the Angels are playing so well, can’t we have some of Rex and Steve’s enthusiasm to go along with it?  Rory and Mark were more excited over Casey Blake’s foul ball catch than Rivera’s homer.  And I’m pretty sure they replayed Blake’s catch more than Juan’s HR.  Ugh.

                               

Okay, don’t forget Saturday’s “Battle of the Brothers” as former teammates, Jered and Jeff Weaver, go head-to-head.  In an interview, Mom Weaver said she wants a shut-out on both sides through the 7th, then let the relievers duke it out.  Spoken like a decidedly neutral party! 

 

Baseball…for fast, fast, fast relief.

 

 

There’s No Place Like Home

Sometimes all it takes is a good talking to.  After Thursday night’s miserable 11-1 loss to the Rays, Mike Scioscia had a locker room “discussion” with his team.  What I would’ve given to have been a fly on that wall because whatever he said, obviously worked.  I almost didn’t recognize the team that took the field Friday night, back home at the Big A. 

  extreme.jpg picture by lafmyers

Who were these super-studs and what had they done with my loveable but bumbling band of baseball boys?  These new and improved Angels were hitting, scoring runs and not making base running or any other kind of errors.  I cannot tell you how refreshing it was to see them playing like the superior team I know they are.  And I don’t think I need to tell you how happy I was to see Matt Palmer take the mound for his first start since May 30th. 

                                  

Woohoo!  But I’m not at all happy to hear that Kelvim Escobar is experiencing pain in his shoulder that will prevent him from starting.  At least it looks like he’ll be available for relief pitching and he may be just what the bullpen needs.  He definitely came in handy in the same capacity back in the ’05 season.  Skeptics who think Matt Palmer’s success has been a fluke, will get to see their theory tested.  Palmer was indeed tested Friday night, and although he gave up 4 runs on 10 hits, his teammates did their share for a change and came through with plenty of runs, upping his record to 6-0.  Sweeeeeeet. 

                         

The Angels combined for 11 runs on 18…yes, 18…hits!  Everyone pitched in but notably, Bobby Abreu went 3 for 4 and Maicer Izturis, filling in for Howie Kendrick at 2nd base, went 4 for 4!  It did not come as a real shock when it was announced immediately after the game that Kendrick was being sent down to Salt Lake City.  Howie has not been himself lately.  Not only is he in the midst of the worst hitting slump of his career, we’ve seen him make some very uncharacteristic flubs, such as miscounting outs and sloppy base running.  I hope he can work these things out and rejoin the team, ready to make a run for the play-offs.  In the meantime, in light of his fantastic hitting Friday night, Izturis should be a great boost to the team’s offense. 

                                     

So, were the Angels able to keep it together and take two in a row?  And how.  One stat that has been “sluggishly” low for the Angels has been home runs, but Saturday night there were lots of fireworks in Anaheim as Kendry Morales had his second home run in two days, Jeff Mathis had a two-run shot, his first of the season and…dum, dum, dee, dum…

                                Torii Hunter

My ALL-STAR Torii Hunter not only went 3 for 4, all 3 were HOME RUNS!!!  It was incredible and the first time he’s ever had 3 in a game.  Not only does he knock them out of the park, he climbs the wall and steals them from the other guys.   Can someone please explain to me why this man is in 5th place in All-Star Game voting???  I don’t know of any outfielder who has been talked about as much on Sunday recap shows as my Torii.  If he doesn’t start the All-Star Game in center field it will be a crime, I tell you, a crime!

                               

Another star in Saturday’s game was Joe Saunders who pocketed win #7 after allowing only 1 run to the Padres in 8 and 1/3.  If not for a dropped 3rd strike and missed catch, he would’ve had his complete game.  But he sure looked good, striking out 5 and walking 1.  And the Angels defense had his back, turning 4 double-plays. 

                      

It’s been a great weekend thus far, just watching the Angels play the kind of ball we all know they’re capable of playing.  Coach Scioscia’s “lecture” should be on every players’ ipod so it’s handy should someone need a little refresher.  Practice only takes you so far.  Sometimes you need a different kind of “motivation”. 

                                            

 

Baseball…your potential, our passion.