Tagged: Juan Rivera

Keeping The Faith!

“Welcome back to the postseason, Halos, that most celebrated
of achieved
destinations, where tradition dictates you’ll soon
be squished in the manner of a grape beneath the dancing
feet of Jonathan Papelbon.”

                                              — Jeff Miller, OC Register

Ummmm, I don’t think so.  Not even close.  The only “grapes” involved in the Angels’ sweep of the Red Sox were the kind used to make this:

          

But let’s start at the beginning.  Thursday flew by as I tackled a mountain of paperwork at the office, canceled my subscription to the OC Register and spoke with the editor’s secretary.  She provided me some phone numbers for the mucky-mucks in the sports department but I was unable to reach any of them on their direct lines.  Gee, I wonder if they were out at the Big A with their complementary press passes?  By the time I got home, I was fired up and ready for a good game.  With all the talk about the “one-two” punch of Jon Lester and Josh Beckett, I was praying John Lackey would have his best stuff.  Did he ever.  It was a great pitchers duel that continued into the 5th inning and we were all holding our breaths, wondering who would blink first.  Lester did.  Erick Aybar led off the bottom of the 5th with a double, Chone Figgins bunted him over to 3rd and Mr. Patience, Bobby Abreu, skillfully drew his third walk of the game.  Then it happened…my Torii Hunter blasted one up, up and over the centerfield wall! 

                         ANAHEIM, CA - OCTOBER 08:  Torii Hunter #48 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim reacts to hitting a three-run home run as catcher Victor Martinez #41 of the Boston Red Sox look on in the fifth inning of Game One of the ALDS during the 2009 MLB Playoffs at Angel Stadium on October 8, 2009 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

It was a thing of beauty, but given the Red Sox ability to throw runs up on the board in later innings, I said a quick prayer for insurance runs.  Kendry Morales delivered in the 7th with an RBI and one more run came in on a bad throw by Jason Bay.  After giving up only 4 hits, Big John Lackey left the mound after 7 & 1/3 to thunderous applause.  Darren Oliver was superb, finishing the game without allowing a single base runner.  Fantastic!  I had hoped and prayed for a win and got just that.  To top it all off…it was a shut-out!  Sweet. 

                             

As you can imagine, I was itching to update my blog after Thursday night’s win.  After attempting for nearly 2 hours to access MLB Blogs, I gave up and hoped I’d have some time at work on Friday to send out congratulations to my boys and revel in the victory a little.  It didn’t happen as, once again, it was a busy day, cut short by my early departure to get to the Big A for all the action of Game 2.  Since I’d gone into work wearing my World Series Champs t-shirt, jersey, hat and lucky postseason red underwear, I only needed to feed the birds, grab my hubby and get on the road.  There was no traffic at all on the 5 freeway and we were in the stadium by 5 PM.  I couldn’t help but shake my head at the number of “fans” who were attempting to enter the ball park with ALCS tickets!!  I use the term “fans” lightly as true baseball fans undoubtedly know the difference between ALCS and ALDS.  One unfortunate woman had bought Game 2…Game 2 at Fenway!  Jeez!! 

                               

We headed to our seats which were in a very lively terrace section on the right field side.  I told my husband I needed to eat some dinner quickly because I knew I would not be able to eat once the game started.  This was not a typical fun night at the ball park.  My nerves were kicking in big time and at no time would I be taking my eyes off the field.  I inhaled my sandwich and nervously waited.  They showed the new pre-game video montage again and again I became emotional.  Okay, that’s an understatement.  I began sobbing and didn’t think I’d stop.  The whole Nick Adenhart thing just hit so close to home.  I was missing my Dad.  This was my first postseason game without him.  My husband was helpless to comfort me so he just handed me those stiff, scratchy stadium napkins and let me have my cry.  Jered Weaver took the mound and wrote “N.A.” in the dirt of the mound with his finger and I let loose one last sob, then got myself together.  I grabbed my thundersticks and began cheering with all my might.  I’ll spare you the pitch-by-pitch recap.  The Red Sox scored first in the top of the 4th but the Angels responded quickly with a run of their own in the bottom of the inning.  The Angels broke the tie in the bottom of the 7th with Erick Aybar and Maicer Izturis leading the charge.  Josh Beckett was done with 4 earned runs, his “punch” never materializing.  Jered Weaver pitched his heart out, allowing only one run on 2 hits.  He matched Lackey’s 7 & 1/3 innings and received a well-deserved standing O when he left the field.weaver2-1.jpg picture by lafmyers

Darren Oliver, Kevin Jepsen and Brian Fuentes provided solid relief and once again, it was an amazing game!  The crowd roared with every strike, every out, every Angels’ hit and every Angels’ run.  We were on our feet nearly the entire game.  As we departed the Big A, the crowd was chanting “Sweep, sweep, sweep!” so loudly, they were probably heard in Huntington Beach.  I didn’t join in.  I couldn’t.  You know how superstitious I am.  And that night, my superstitions got the best of me as I decided NOT to blog.  I hadn’t blogged after Thursday’s game and they won on Friday.  So, if I didn’t blog after Friday’s game, well, I just felt it would bode better for Sunday’s game.  But Sunday would be at Fenway.  Fenway.  I decided to remain hopefully, cautiously, optimistic.

                                  

2:00 AM, Sunday morning and I couldn’t sleep.  I scrolled through the recordings on the DVR, looking for something that would perhaps lull me to sleep.  Instead, I watched the Angels’ rally, held after their last regular season home game…again.  I listened to Torii Hunter and Bobby Abreu fire up the crowd.  Jered Weaver described how honored he was to receive the first Nick Adenhart pitching award.  I watched the fans cheering the players as they piled aboard a bus bound for John Wayne Airport.  Then I fell asleep and dreamed of another Angels’ victory.

  sleep.jpg picture by lafmyers

Let me just say, baseball can do for me what football will never do: get my butt up at 9:00 AM on a Sunday.  Here in So Cal, it was overcast and gloomy.  I turned the game on and saw a bright, sunny day at Fenway.  I wondered who the sun was shining for.  Scott Kazmir was good, not great, but at least he kept the Red Sox from running away with it.  The Red Sox had a big 3 run inning in the 3rd and Kendry Morales cut the lead with a solo HR in the top of the 4th.  The Sox scored 2 more in the bottom of the 4th and were all smiles in the dugout with a 5-1 lead.  The crowd at Fenway seemed to finally perk up as well.  The Angels scored one more in the 6th which hardly phased the Red Sox or their fans.  But the Angels got their attention in the 8th when Bobby Abreu had a lead-off double and Red Sox reliever Billy Wagner walked Vlad Guerrero.  Tony Francona decided he’d make the call to the bullpen.  Well, I don’t think he used the phone.  I think he just talks to Papelbon in his head, like some people talk to God.  Honestly, I expected Papelbon to make an entrance like this:

        

 

Or maybe like this:

 

                   

But no, he took the mound like a regular guy and promptly gave up a two-run single to Juan Rivera.  What?!?  This was interesting.  But only for a moment as Reggie Willits, pinch running for Rivera, was quickly picked off to end the inning.  The Red Sox then added a run in the bottom of the 8th and again sent Papelbon out to secure the final 3 outs of the game and what they expected would be a 6-4 win.  Or not.  The first two outs came fairly easy but the 2009 Angels never say die.  Aybar singled up the middle, then took 2nd base, uncontested.  Chone Figgins managed a walk of his own, bringing Abreu to the plate.  When Abreu smacked the Green Monster with a solid double and Aybar came around to score, I was cheering and waving my rally monkey.  And when they walked my Torii Hunter and loaded the bases, I yelled, “Make ’em pay, Vladdy!  Make ’em pay!” Vladdy drove Papelbon’s first pitch right up the middle and dropped it right in front of Jacoby Ellsbury.  Now I was screaming!!!  Figgins scored the tying run and Abreu hustled in for the go-ahead.  This was unbelievable!  For the first time this entire season, I didn’t panic when Brian Fuentes took the mound.  I knew what had just happened would not be in vain.  I knew the unimagineable was about to happen.  This would be a sweep!  Fuentes did what Papelbon couldn’t and shut down the side, 1-2-3. 

  bigfinish.jpg picture by lafmyers

It was a half hour before I felt confident that none of my neighbors had called 911 to report my screams of joy which could totally have been mistaken for the blood-curdling sort.  It was hard to do much of anything the rest of the day.  I realized I’d spent the previous four days a wound-up bundle of nerves.  Now it was time to exhale.  Oh, and watch every second of news coverage I could find.  The idiots at TBS immediately cut away at the end of the game to show a re-run of “Seinfeld”.  Not even a moment of locker room champagne dousings.  Somehow I find it hard to believe they would’ve done that had the Red Sox just completed a sweep in the ALCS.  I guess my guys will continue to be the Rodney Dangerfield of the MLB…no respect, I tell ya.  Whatever.  We’re used to the unfair coverage and the lack of respect.  Just think how stupid the local reporters look now.  They all predicted a sweep…by the Red Sox.  That’s okay.  Everyone can keep dissing my guys, but the fans will always keep the faith.  We know how bad our Angels want this.  And we know what they’re playing for.

  torii1.jpg picture by lafmyers

 

Angels Baseball…Fan Strong!

 

 

Taking Triplets From Twins

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.

               badnews.jpg picture by lafmyers

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.

          precision.jpg picture by lafmyers

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.

                        biginning.gif picture by lafmyers

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?

Touché.

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.

               weaver2.jpg picture by lafmyers

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.

 

 

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!

 

 

The Shame Game

So far this season it seems as if the Angels’ most effective motivator has been shame.  They don’t just regroup or bounce back from a narrow loss to play well.  No, they have to be absolutely smeared and humiliated by an opposing team to get their heads back on straight and then, miraculously, they embark on a really good run.  I sure hope this is the pattern.  If so, we can expect great things from the Angels in the upcoming series with the Yankees, because I don’t know what else you could call these last two games against Texas other than shameful. 

     shame.jpg picture by lafmyers

Tuesday night’s game started out innocently enough.  John Lackey was pitching great into the 5th inning.  He had 2 outs, no one on base and the Angels were winning, 2-0.  Then it completely fell apart.  (You can’t tell me the “wave” had nothing to do with it.  Stupid wave.)  The 3 run home run Lackey gave up to Andruw Jones wasn’t as disturbing as the effect it seemed to have on him.  It really messed with his head and he wasn’t able to recover.

              head.jpg picture by lafmyers

The Rangers scored 6 runs before Jason Bulger could get the last out of the inning.  The Angels combined for 11 hits, but were down 4 runs in the 9th.  Juan Rivera made a valiant effort, hitting his second HR of the night in the 9th, but it was a solo shot.  The worst moment of the game had to be when Vladimir Guerrero left the field, limping from a strained muscle behind his knee…his good knee! 

                

Why???  With my ALL-STAR Torii Hunter already out of the line-up with a thigh injury, the Angels will be lacking some serious power at the plate.  The pressure will be on Juan Rivera, Kendry Morales and Bobby Abreu to provide some long balls, although as Jeff Mathis proved Monday night, with the Angels you never know where the key hits will come from.  I think Gary Matthews, Jr. will contribute as well, but he’ll need some more at bats to get going again.  In the meantime, maybe he can just keep stealing home.

          

Wednesday night, in the final game of the series with the Rangers, Santana was anything but smooth.  Like I said, I still have my doubts as to whether he’s 100% or not.  He seemed to have the velocity, but the Rangers took total advantage of his lack of command.  Leading the charge was Andruw Jones, who enjoyed a 3 HR night.  Yes, the same Mr. Jones who warmed the Dodgers’ bench for half of last season and posted a .158 batting average for the year.  He matched his total HR number from last season in this one game…3.  Hmmm.  I don’t know what he’s eating these days, but I’ll have what he’s having.

            

Joining in the Home Run Derby preview were Marlon Byrd and Taylor Teagarden who hit his first HR of the season.  I will not be joining in the cries to send Ervin Santana back down to triple A.  Provided he is indeed completely healthy, he will need a few more starts to get his rhythm back.  I’d rather see that happen now than in September.  We’ve seen him work out of a funk and turn back into the ace starter he’s capable of being.  The same goes for Lackey.  Do the Angels have to maintain an 8-10 game lead in the west to be considered successful?  Is it fair to expect that?  Have we forgotten that the Angels were the wild card when they won the World Series in 2002? 

                          

We’ve seen what happens when they have a comfortable lead in September and start “phoning it in” until the end of the regular season.  They were not rested and ready for the play-offs last year at all.  They were disjointed and lackadaisical.  Clutching and clawing for first place may work much better for the Angels in the long run.  Taking a look at the standings, it appears there will be a whole lot of clutching and clawing going on everywhere.  And that’s what makes a great season.   

 

Baseball…something special in the air.

 

 

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.

 

 

Motown Meltdown

I woke up Saturday feeling happy and hopeful.  The sun was shining and the birds were singing (outside and in).  Kelvim Escobar would be taking the mound that night in Detroit, which meant for the first time this season, the Angels’ starters were all healthy and rearing to go.

                                

The Angels’ win on Friday night was their 3rd in a row.  I was anticipating great things as I kept checking the clock all afternoon.  Finally, at 3:40 PM, I headed to the bird room and grabbed the vacuum, a sure-fire way to kill 20 minutes.  I vacuum that bird room every day, sometimes twice when they’re molting, and I know it takes exactly 20 minutes.  Well, I’ll spare you the paper chewing, food bowl dumping, lovebird-on-the-loose details but needless to say, I got sidetracked and when I looked at the clock again it was 4:28 PM!  What?!?!? 

                             

You know how sometimes you can miss the first 20 minutes of a movie and it’s no big deal?  Yeah?  Well, this wasn’t like that.  I ran into the family room just in time to see Escobar throw the last pitch of the first inning.  The score was 2-1, Tigers.  While waiting for the 2nd inning to start, I had that talk in my head where I said, “Okay, Escobar.  It’s only 2 runs.  Now, just settle down and you’ll be fine.”  He did and he was.  Trouble was, Detroit’s Edwin Jackson had the same talk with himself and he ended up with a complete game…a 4 hitter!  Escobar looked good through his 5 innings.  Not bad, considering Lackey only managed 2 pitches in his first start and neither were strikes…remember?  Angels’ relievers Bulger and Oliver, did their part to tame those Tigers and didn’t allow any more runs.

                            

So, as it turned out, that 2-1 score at the end of the 1st inning was also the final score of the game.  Super bummer. 

Sunday morning was a little different.  I dragged myself out of bed, (or rather was coaxed with a Jack-in-the-Box mango smoothie…thanks, honey) for the 10:00 AM game start.  Perhaps I should’ve stayed in bed and instead, dreamed of an Angels win?

                                           

‘Cause it sure wasn’t happening in real life.  It started off on a high note: the Angels scored 3 runs in the 1st including a solo HR by Chone Figgins, his first of the season, and a 2 run shot by Juan Rivera.  After that, I expected Joe Saunders to hit the mound and just mow the Tigers down. 

                             

It didn’t quite happen that way.  Angels’ pitchers walked 9 Tigers and sealed their fate when Bulger served up a grand slam to Clete Thomas that blew the 5-5 tied game wide open.  The Angels managed one more run in the 9th but it was too little, too late.

                                

I must mention that amid the doom and gloom, Bobby Abreu got his 2000th career hit, a double, sandwiched between the 2 HRs in the 1st inning.  Congratulations to him on being the 257th player to hit this milestone.

The Angels are off Monday as they travel to Tampa Bay.  At this point, I don’t know what to expect.  While the Rays may be in 4th place in the east, they lead the MLB in runs scored (324) and stolen bases (91).  Manager, Joe Maddon, a former apprentice of Mike Scioscia, likes to use the tricks of his old mentor against his former team. 

         

Let’s just hope Scioscia has a few tricks of his own up his sleeve.  With Texas taking 2 in Boston, we can’t afford to lose any more ground.

 

Baseball…we turn on ideas. 

 

 

Got Offense?

The Angels have averaged less than 6 hits in each of their last 4 games.  That just isn’t going to get the job done.  They were lucky to have gotten a win in one of those games, but that can be credited to Jered Weaver and his continuing dominance of White Sox hitters. 

           

John Lackey had a mediocre night Friday against the Mariners, giving up 5 runs in 7 & 1/3 innings.  The 3-5 loss wasn’t exactly a runaway, but how can the Angels expect to win a game when 6 out of 9 in the line-up were hitless?  I mean, they’re hitting the ball (only 5 outs were strike-outs), but they’re popping up or grounding out.  Juan Rivera had a good night, a very good night.  There were only 5 Angels hits in the entire game and 3 of them were his, including a solor HR in the 5th. 

             

He also made a Torii-esque catch over the left field wall to rob Russell Branyan of his own HR.  Unfortunately, before the applause in the stadium could even die down, Jose Lopez launched one that did make it over the wall…about a foot and a half beyond Rivera’s reach.  (There’s only so much your defense can do if you’re going to leave ’em dangling right over the plate.)  Juan Rivera had a great 2006 season.  He was an everyday player, either filling in for Garret Anderson in left field or DH-ing.  He had a .310 season, with 23 HR’s and 83 RBI’s.  I felt like he was on the verge of becoming a “major player” (pun intended) in the ’07 season.  Like A-Rod major.    

                                 leg.gif Gingerbread man broken leg image by IJH

Then Juan had to go and break his leg playing winterball.  He wasn’t back until September and only played in 14 games at the tail end of the season.  He had a decent 2008, but played in less than 90 games.  With no shortage of outfielders, who knows how many starts he’ll get but if he continues to hit in the clutch, I hope we’ll see plenty of him in the DH spot.  Mike Napoli did great until his bat got all icy cold.

                        

That’s one thing about Napoli…it’s almost like he’s got an on/off switch.  He’s either hitting up a storm or nothing.  Absolutely nothing.  Yes, Vlady’s back.  But he’s 2-16.  It’s not unusual for one or sometimes two players in the line-up to be going through a drought, but these last few games made me think I should:

                                    

But I think I’ll wait until the Angels are out of town.  I would hate to see this weekend’s games rained out.  Definitely not THIS weekend.  THIS weekend I’m a:

                           

Woohoo!  I love my husband, but for 5 days a year I get to:

  • Read a book without someone interrupting me numerous times, telling me to check out the “Die Hard” bike on American Chopper
  • Wear the same pajamas from Friday night to Monday morning without someone threatening to call a hazmat crew
  • Watch a few award-winning, subtitled foreign films without someone asking me how long ’til they show boobies?

But most importantly…I get to watch my Angels games in peace without someone moaning or groaning every time an Angel batter strikes.  More than Christmas, more than Opening Day, more than Sephora’s Annual Friends & Family Sale, I look forward to my husband’s fishing trip to Mexico.  (I’m not allowed to mention which town they visit as every year the guys worry that their sleepy little fishing village will turn into another Cancun.  14 years, still only 1 streetlight.  No problema.) 

For those keeping score…

Friday:    Angels 2
              Mariners 5

              West Coast Hookers  5 Dorado, 1 Black Marlin
              East Coast Bobbers   3 Dorado, 1 hangover

 

Baseball…get hooked!

 

The Bat’s Where It’s At

One thing I love about the Angels is, when one of their batters is walked intentionally, they almost always make the opposing team:

    

That’s exactly what happened tonight when the White Sox’s Gavin Floyd walked Kendry Morales to pitch to Juan Rivera.  Juan was more than happy to double in a run and help give Jered Weaver a much deserved win.  Weaver gave up only 4 hits in 8 full innings and Brian Fuentes gave up one hit in the 9th before shutting the Sox down.  Fuentes is tied with Papelbon for most saves in the AL and I am pleased to report he and I are very much in “like” now.  We’re getting there. 

      

Bobby Abreu had a 2 RBI double in the 6th.  In fact, all 3 of the Angels’ runs came in the 6th.  They won and I’m thrilled (especially since the Yankees did us a favor by beating the Rangers again), but that doesn’t change what I was thinking during the 5th inning.  The Angels have the day off tomorrow.  Should they go to the beach?

                

 

Maybe hit the mall?

    

 

Should they go see the new Star Trek movie?

 

               

 

Ummmm…no, no and heck NO!!!!  What should they be doing ALL day (and night…that’s what they’ve got lights in the stadium for)????

       Mark Texiera Picture

 

Batting practice.  Lots and lots of batting practice.

 

     

It certainly couldn’t hurt.  We’ve seen the bullpen get their act together (Monday night doesn’t count and we should swear right now to never speak of that game again.  Pinky swear, now!)  but the Angels offense has been pulling up short lately.  If anything, they owe a day of BP to the starters who have pitched some fantastic games but ultimately weren’t rewarded with a W due solely to the lack of run support.  When the Angels combine their usual great hitting with their superior pitching and great running game, they’re absolutely…

                 

 

 Baseball…once you pop, you just can’t stop.