Tagged: Mike Napoli

Tough Love

I guess some people just can’t take a compliment.  I wouldn’t exactly say I was “gushing” in my last post, but I couldn’t help but point out how well my Angels had been playing…”had” being the operative word.  I mentioned their awesome defense, fantastic .300+ batting averages, how cute Figgy, Izturis and Aybar are as they speed around the bases.  Maybe I went too far. 

                              

They dropped their last game in Cleveland and their first game, Friday night, in Toronto.  I continue to be baffled by the fact that the Angels can take on a team like the Yankees and inflict grievous injury but then come thisclose to getting shut-out by the Jays.  A couple of doubles in the 7th inning finally put them on the board but then they had to go and score 3 in the 9th, getting me all hopeful and excited.  Mike Napoli’s 3 run homer couldn’t possibly go to waste, could it?  With 2 outs, Howie Kendrick hit a solid double to the wall in left.  The tying run was on and Bobby Abreu, given the night off, comes in to pinch hit.  With 81 RBIs, he’d have been my choice too.  He grounded to first and that was it.  Close but no…

                        

There’s no point in giving Sean O’Sullivan and his 1 inning outing a hard time.  He left some pitches hovering over the plate and the Jays made the most of it.  We’re expecting an awful lot of these rookies.  Some nights they deliver, some nights they don’t.  Mike Scioscia wisely brought Matt Palmer in when O’Sullivan couldn’t get an out in the 2nd.  Palmer gave up the only other run (a Vernon Wells solo HR) and just one additional hit.  Jose Arredondo followed with 3 solid innings…1 hit and 5 K’s.  His performance was very reminiscent of the dependable relief he provided in ’08. 

   

At least the damage was minimized by the Rangers’ Friday night loss to the Rays.  I don’t doubt the Angels will do all they need to secure their western division win, but I certainly won’t mind if the Rangers contribute to the cause. 

                       

Saturday’s game starts at 10:00 AM here on the west coast.  To me, especially on the weekend, that’s the crack of dawn.  I may as well pull an all-nighter to be up and awake for it.  I’ll do whatever I have to.  After losing two in a row, my Angels need me cheering them on.  I may have to be a little bit stingy with my praise in the future.  It seems to have the opposite effect on them.  Sure…like I could ever stop singing the praises of my amazing Angels. 

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Baseball…something to smile about.

 

 

Taming the Tribe

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.

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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.

 

 

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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).

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                                      (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?

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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: 

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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.  

 

 

Doubly Delicious!

Tuesday’s double-header with the Royals was everything Angels fans could’ve hoped for and more.  If the Angels’ pre-All-Star sweep of the Yankees and their 3 of 4 weekend in Oakland weren’t enough proof that they can absolutely get the job done without Super-Vlad and Torii Hunter in the lineup, then today’s games surely must have erased all doubt. 

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Today’s double-feature may as well have been called “The Erick Aybar Show” as he went an astounding 7 for 9 with a walk.  Each time he came to the plate, it wasn’t a question of IF he’d get a hit, but rather WHERE he’d hit the ball. 

    

In the first game, which the Angels won 8-5, the Angels struck first, scoring 3 runs in the 2nd inning.  They lost their lead in the 5th, but DH Mike Napoli tied it up with a solo HR that nearly crossed the state line.  Ervin Santana struck out 7 but gave up 5 earned runs in 6 innings.  Not exactly spectacular, but with run support coming almost entirely from the bottom half of the lineup, he had nothing to worry about.  Gary Matthews, Jr. and Reggie Willits (in only his 18th game of the season) each chipped in 2 RBIs, once again proving that you never know where the key hits will come from.  Darren Oliver and Kevin Jepsen provided solid relief and Brian Fuentes collected save #29 (still tops in the majors). 

                   

The nearly empty stands at Kaufmann Stadium began to fill up in anticipation of game 2.  I was curious to see what changes Mike Scioscia would be making on the field and in the lineup.  Howie Kendrick took over for Maicer Izturis at 2B, Willits switched from LF to RF, Robb Quinlan took over in LF and Bobby Abreu was the DH while Napoli caught for rookie Sean O’Sullivan.  O’Sullivan, who only had one strike-out, was helped along by some solid defense and only gave up 2 earned runs in 5 1/3 innings.  When Justin Speier took over in the 6th, the Angels had a 3-2 lead.  I’ve refrained from criticizing Speier for the mere fact that I really like the guy, but he’s been all over the place lately and I was feeling a little uneasy.  I told myself that if he did not have a good outing today, I’d have no choice but to “mention” it in my next post. 

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Luckily, for Justin’s sake, I have nothing but good things to report.  When he came in with 2 on and 1 out, he struck out 2…no problemo!  So, in the top of 7th, either just because they could or to give Fuentes the 9th inning off, the Angels busted the game wide open, scoring 7 runs.  Royals fans were alternately gasping, booing and finally, giving their team a wholly sarcastic standing ovation when the inning, mercifully, came to an end. 

            

As the song from “Les Miserables” goes, “A little fall of rain, can hardly hurt you now.”  I’m sure the Royals are wondering if perhaps they might have fared a bit better had they played in that TEENY, TINY BIT OF DRIZZLE that was happening last night.  Oh well.  Guess we’ll never know.  Fine by me! 

          

In a recent post, fellow blogger Jonestein opined as to whether it’s worth giving up future talent to rope in a “now” man in a bid to make it to (and win) a championship.  I suppose that would depend on whether or not Roy Halladay would report to the clubhouse with a backpack full of WS rings with your team’s logo on them.  Many think he would.  I happen to think quick fixes don’t always pan out.  One of my true joys of being an Angels fan has been the privilege to watch young talent make their way up through their amazing farm system and take the mound or have their first big league at bat. 

                          

There’s a special excitement that happens when cameras pan to the rookie’s parents in the stands and you can’t help but feel like you’re watching a baby’s first steps or witnessing the big break of a future Hall Of Famer.  This isn’t the first season Angels fans have seen an injury-ridden team helped out by young players who get that call and hop on a flight from Salt Lake City.  Sure, “going deep” is great but having depth can be greater.  A sole player can win a Cy Young award, Gold Glove or batting title.  But it takes a team to win a championship.  So, fellow fans…do you want the quick fix or are you in it for the long haul?  And how much does a fan’s perspective differ from an owner’s?  Seriously, who needs the ring more?   

 

Baseball…put our team to work for you!

 

 

Rookie-rama!

Don’t you just love irony?  I sure do.  Tuesday night was “Irish Night” at the Giants’ AT&T Park.  And was it ever.  Rookie Sean O’Sullivan made his major league debut as the Angels’ starter and turned out to be their pot of gold. 

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O’Sullivan had a shut-out working into the 7th inning when he finally gave up the only run the Giants would see.  Luck had nothing to do with it as he struck out 5 and walked just one batter.  The Giants could not figure him out and took advantage of a wild pitch to get a runner in scoring position.  O’Sullivan is only 21 years old and I certainly wouldn’t have blamed him if he’d had some debut jitters, but he was too cool for school as he made pitch after pitch.  Then, just to make it a little more interesting, he got his first major league hit when he slammed a bullet right at Giant’s 3rd baseman, Rich Aurilia, who couldn’t get his glove on it.  He also had a chance to round the bases and score a run, just like John Lackey on Monday night, when Maicer Izturis followed up with his first home run of the season.  Another night full of firsts!

                                

Someone found Mike Napoli’s “ON” switch.  Napoli’s recent struggles at the plate were erased from our memories with one swing of the bat as he unleashed a 3 run homer deep into the stands, just one of his 4 for 5 hits.  It looks like Mike’s got his mojo back and his timing couldn’t be better with my ALL-STAR Torii Hunter missing from the line-up.  My Torii body-slammed the centerfield wall Monday night, going after a line drive hit by Bengie Molina.  Remember my motto, “Once an Angel, always an Angel…except for Jose Guillen”?  I forgive you, Bengie.  I know you didn’t mean to hurt my Torii.  Thankfully, my Torii’s only injury was a couple of bruised ribs. 

           Hunter

I say thankfully, because the sound of my Torii’s body impacting the wall could be heard all the way in the broadcast booth.  I cringed every time they replayed it and I’m so glad he wasn’t hurt more seriously.  He’s expected to be back on the field Friday as the Angels start another freeway series with the Dodgers.  I’ll say it again…if my Torii Hunter isn’t the starting centerfielder in the All-Star Game it will only prove there is NO justice in this world!  Count ’em, folks.

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So, things are good in Halo-land right now.  The Angels are riding their longest win streak of the season (again, do your own math…I’m not gonna jinx it), yet another rookie on the mound gave us much to cheer about and Matt Palmer will have another start Wednesday afternoon backed up by a bunch of guys who have rediscovered their long-ball swings.  What could I possibly have to b*tch about???

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I do read (some) message boards so I know the debate rages on: Rex Hudler & Steve Physioc vs. Rory & Mark.  My vote rests squarely with Rex and Steve.  I’ve heard Rex called a “shameless cheerleader”.  I’ve been called the same thing and I hardly consider it an insult.  He’s also been accused of “dumbing down” the game.  Then call me stupid because I actually learn a thing or two from him and Steve.  Not all fans who watch Angels games can spout stats or have any experience actually playing the game themselves.  Heck, I’m happy when I get an AFLAC Trivia Question right!   And let’s not forget the many young fans who enjoy watching the games.  Few former pro athletes are as self-deprecating as Rex and I find it refreshing.  He and Steve have genuine enthusiasm that comes from being true-red Angels fans and I like it.  I don’t have much of a beef with Mark.  I respect his experience and his resume in the majors and it certainly doesn’t hurt that he’s easy on the eyes.  But Mark needs to understand that I will never find myself in the position to throw a slider, split-finger, sinker or curveball and to be completely honest, I can’t distinguish between the zillions of pitches he describes.  I know only two: ball and strike.  I sometimes find my eyes glassing over as he offers TMI for each pitch.  Now, Rory?  That guy knows how to push my buttons and he’s been doing it a lot lately.  Did anyone else notice how he seemed to be getting excited Monday night as the Giants chipped away at an Angels’ 8 run lead?  He says the wrong thing at the wrong time.  Tonight it was, “The Giants haven’t had a base runner in scoring position yet.”  The words were not even completely out of his mouth as a Giant hit second base.  Talk about a jinx?  With Rory, it’s not “if you build it, they will come”, it’s “if he says it, it will happen”.  So, Rory, do me a favor, before you speak, ask yourself, “WWFD?”  (What would fans do?)  Please.  Don’t make me pull out the duct tape.  

                          

 

Baseball…can you hear me now?  

 

 

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!

 

How Do You Mend A Broken Heart?

I’ll tell you how.  By bouncing back in a HUGE way to beat the Red Sox!  I’m still out of breath, what with all the pacing, jumping and fist pumping I was doing through the 9th.  And I’m not sure my neighbors appreciated all the hooting and hollering.  I just had to be sure Matt Palmer could hear me seven miles down the road at the Big A.

 

                  

   

While Palmer started out shaky, giving up two runs in each of the first two innings, he settled right down and retired 19 consecutive batters!  This, of course, gave him his first (and I can’t even believe I’m about to type these words for the third time in less than a week) complete game!  

                            

Matt Palmer is the Cinderella story of the MLB right now.  He was the Giant’s 31st round draft pick back in 2002 and did not make a start in the majors until last August.  He ended up having three starts that left him with an 0-2 record.  He signed a minor league contract with the Angels in December and was invited to spring training.  Even with the Angels being plagued with injuries and tragedy, it’s downright amazing that he even got called up.  His two starts with the Salt Lake Bees left him with an 11.74 ERA, which makes what he’s doing now that much more amazing.  Someone, somewhere saw something in him.  He turned 30 while in spring training and was considering walking away from baseball to start a landscaping business.

                               

He credits his wife with convincing him to stick it out a while longer.  (Wives…they ARE always right, aren’t they?)  And now everything’s coming up roses for Matt Palmer.  Seriously.  I have no doubt he had one chance, and only one, to prove himself.  And that he has.  Consider this:

                4/23 – Palmer’s first start against the Tigers’ Edwin Jackson ($2.2 mil)

                  5/2 – Palmer’s second start against the Yankees’ CC Sabathia ($15.3 mil)

                  5/8 – Palmer’s third start against the Royals’ Gil Meche ($11.4 mil)

                5/13 – Palmer’s fourth start against the Red Sox’s Tim Wakefield ($4 mil)

Matt Palmer’s 4-0 record?  Priceless.  I just hope he’s making California’s minimum wage since it’s higher than Utah’s.  I really think next time Palmer has a start at the Big A, we should pass the hat.  NOT this hat:

                              

THIS one:

 

                      angelhat.jpg picture by lafmyers

Not all the thrills happened on the mound.  Down 4 runs in the 3rd, the Halos started to figure out Wakefield’s knuckle ball.  They scored 5 runs in the inning, including a 3 run blast by Mike Napoli.  You could see Palmer’s confidence return as he came out in the 4th.  What a little run support can do!  And my Torii Hunter had a solo HR in the 4th.  (I am SO in love with him right now, I am seriously considering changing my name to Lorii.)  Even fan favorite, Reggie Willits, subbing for Gary Matthews in right field, had an RBI.

 

dbard.jpgI did get a little nervous when the Red Sox sent in reliever, Daniel Bard.  “Honey, he’s a rookie,” my husband said, knowing how I feel about rookie pitchers.  I am not lying when I say I always root for the rookie, even when he’s on the opposing team.  It has to do with the soft spot I have for them, all alone on the mound, under the bright lights.  Mom, Dad and the whole world are watching.  I can’t bear to see a rookie pitcher choke.  “I hope he does well,” I said sincerely.  “But not too well.”  I just don’t trust those Red Sox and prefer to have a double-digit lead going into the 9th.  He struck out Mike Napoli with 3 fastballs.  It’s a good thing they use those radar guns because I didn’t see the ball.  Good for the rookie.  I just hope we can trade for him before the play-off’s. 

 

I’m sure all the fair-weather Angels fans are piling back on the bandwagon.  Not only are they winning, they’re doing it in fine fashion, with three complete games in less than a week!  Is there any baseball jargon for that?  Three strikes in bowling is a turkey, three goals in hockey is a hat trick.  I know!  Let’s call it a THREE – ‘PLETE!  Call it whatever you want.  Obviously, the Angels starters had a meeting and decided if they want a win, they’re just going to have to go the distance and get it themselves.  Where does this leave the Angel bullpen?

 

           ueline.jpg picture by lafmyers

 

 Baseball…ask about it at work. 

 

 

Don’t Go Breaking My Heart

My husband called me “moody” today.  What Angels fan isn’t after last night’s heartbreaker of a loss to the Red Sox?  Once again, he just doesn’t know how lucky he is.  I deal with a loss to the Red Sox like this:

                         

 

Which is considerably better than how I deal with a loss to the Yankees:

 

                     drunk-cat.jpg drunk cat image by Scyllaya

 

Phew!  Thank goodness those are few and far between.  Unfortunately, we saw the Angels’ bullpen bumble and give up the game after yet another solid start by Jered Weaver.  Perhaps instead of resting during Saunders and Weaver’s complete games last week, the relievers should have been practicing.

    

    

 

Both Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis were missing from the the Red Sox line up.  Big Papi and I have the same number of home runs this season…ZERO.  Nonetheless, he took one for the team, and a run came in when he was hit by a pitch.  I hate when that happens.  But last night’s loss can’t be blamed entirely on the pitching.  With only 6 hits, the Angels’ bats were hardly blazing.  And double digits (10) were left on base.  I really hate when that happens. 

 

                             

 

One highlight of the game was Juan Rivera’s right-on-target throw to the plate to get Jacoby Ellsbury out, ending the 6th.  Catcher Jeff Mathis made the tag, doing an admirable job as full-time catcher while Mike Napoli is DH-ing.  Mathis and my Torii Hunter (yes, I’m still basking in the afterglow of his magnificent homerun stealing catch at the wall on Sunday) were the only two Angels to have two hits last night.

 

      Mike Napoli, Jacoby Ellsbury

 

Today’s a new day, and tonight is a whole new ball game.  We have what looks to be another great pitching match-up with rookie Matt Palmer, looking for win #4, against Tim Wakefield and his famous knuckle ball.  Palmer pitched a shut-out against Kansas City and has been ultra-impressive since being called up from Salt Lake City.  Who’s got the edge?  The veteran who has taken his place among the best of the best or the 30 year old rookie who wants to earn the right to stay in the big leagues?  As usual…I’m rooting for the rookie.

 

Baseball…tastes so good cats ask for it by name.