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!
I’ve always loved a good mini-series. So much drama, action and yes, even romance crammed into just a few hours of exciting television viewing. No, not this kind of mini-series:
(Yes, I actually entertained myself with something Yankees-related!) I’m talking about THIS kind of mini-series:
The Angels continued the winning rampage (perhaps a slight exaggeration) they began on Saturday in New York by going to Oakland and taking both games against the A’s. Joe Saunders had a great outing on Monday night, winning his 3rd straight game. The only run he gave up came when he balked. Okay, so some of you “armchair all-stars” (**poking my husband**) might think that’s pretty pathetic to have a run scored on you because you balked. I wonder how these pitchers don’t balk more often. If it was me on the mound, between picking my nose and waving to the Good Year blimp, they’d have to invoke the mercy rule. Rookie Shane Loux went seven solid innings, giving up only 5 hits and 1 run. No balking or nose picking were involved. And much to my giddy delight, Brian Fuentes looked like a closer…a really good one too!
The Angels are heading home to the Big A where we’ll have another one of those mini series with the Blue Jays and then follow that up with three games versus the Royals. It would be great if the Angels can keep it together and chip away at the Mariners’ 2 game lead in the west but it won’t be easy. Both the Blue Jays and the Royals are playing well. Really well. And even when the Royals are languishing a zillion games back in the central division, they come to Anaheim and my boys all look like they’re playing left-handed (or right-handed, if they’re lefties)!
I know it’s still early in the season, but the American League standings look nothing like what anyone’s predicting. The most unexpected and amusing things can happen when all the attention and hype are focused on the usual suspects. Just ask these guys:
Baseball…expect the unexpected.