As planned, I headed out to the Big A for Wednesday’s day game, the last of three versus the Tigers. With my Angels in danger of losing 4 in a row, I had my rally monkey in tow and was ready to help my guys turn it around.
First of all, it was hot. Really, really hot. If you watched the game on TV, it I’m sure the stadium appeared to be practically empty. That was because nearly everyone with field level seats retreated up to the shade of the terrace level. Hardly any players were seen hanging out on the railing in front of the dugouts. They too opted for the shade-covered benches instead.
It may have been sizzling, but that stadium was a big, steaming bowl of yummy goodness! Torii Hunter had a two-run homer in the 1st, Joe Saunders looked great coming off the DL and we saw a couple great double-plays and Chone Figgins almost steal home. (Okay, so he AND the crowd missed the 3rd base ump call time-out…it was still a kick to watch and would’ve been the highlight of the game if he’d pulled it off!) Needless to say, I went to the game expecting a win and that’s exactly what I got.
Thursday night was another story. We were treated to the pre-game ceremony as Brian Downing and Chuck Finley were inducted into the Angels’ Hall of Fame. It was a very nice tribute to a couple of great players and the highlight reels were a trip down memory lane for everyone. It just would’ve been nice if the Angels could’ve won. Oh, and they didn’t just lose. They were shut-out. By Oakland. Ugh.
There’s not much to say about it. Once the game started and it wasn’t about Brian Downing and Chuck Finley anymore, it was all about Trevor Cahill. He was ON as he gave up just 2 hits in 7 full innings. Michael Wuertz pitched a clean 8th and Andrew Bailey got the save, giving up one additional hit. Ervin Santana had a decent outing himself, allowing the A’s only 2 runs in 6 innings and striking out six batters. Matt Palmer provided 3 innings of perfect relief. But the Angels’ offense just couldn’t get to Cahill. Torii Hunter had to bunt to get on base. I think that says it all. I must mention the incredible play Maicer Izturis and Erick Aybar made in the 7th. If you haven’t already seen it on a high-light reel (it was #1 play of the day on ESPN), you really should check it out: Aybar and Izturis These two don’t get nearly enough credit. Even Torii Hunter called it one of the best plays he’s ever seen. The crowd clearly recognized brilliance when they saw it.
The game was another frustrating loss but it was a make-up game from April, the game that was to be played the night after Nick Adenhart’s tragic death. The Angels had a dismal month of April so we’ll just say “technically” it was an April game and move on.
I’ll just say, Friday night’s game began like an April game but ended like a 2002 October game. Kendry Morales had a solo HR in the 2nd but the A’s came right back and scored 5 runs in the 3rd after the Angels’ defense fumbled a couple of opportunities to get Trevor Bell out of the inning unscathed. The Angels were trailing 2-6 in the bottom of the 7th when their bats caught fire and blew the game wide open with a 7 run inning which included a 3 run shot by, again, Kendry Morales. When the smoke cleared, the Angels had won 11-7 and Kendry Morales had gone an amazing 5 for 5. He had a pair of doubles to go with his pair of HRs and tied his career high of 6 RBIs.
Ummm, no Tex. That’s SIX ribbies. You need two hands for that one.
Overall, it was a terrific come-from-behind win that seemed to wake up my boys and get them going. Combine the win with the Rangers’ loss to the Twins and the Angels are sitting 5 games ahead again.
After hearing the rumors all day, it was announced during the game that the Angels had acquired lefty Scott Kazmir from the Rays. Hopefully Kazmir will be just what the starting rotation needs to power through the rest of the season and beyond. He seems to have worked through any physical issues and had a strong outing in his last start, going 6 innings and striking out 10. In exchange for Kazmir, the Rays will get two promising prospects and…here’s the part that makes my stomach all queasy…”a player to be named later”. Those, without a doubt, are words no baseball fan likes to hear.
For those Rays fans who are mourning Scott Kazmir’s departure, it looks like I’ll be in your shoes very shortly. I know that being a fan means having to take the bad with the good. And it’s never easy.
Baseball…the road will never be the same.
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!
It was definitely a team effort Tuesday night when the Angels beat the Rays. Jered Weaver was his usual reliable self and gave up 2 runs on 5 hits in 6 innings. He admitted the Florida humidity got to him and sapped his strength. He said had to change his jersey between innings because he was sweating so much. Not the “dry heat” we’re used to here in So Cal. Maybe the humidity moistened the rusty joints of the Angels hitters because they were able to combine for 12. They scored 2 runs in the 1st, helped along by 2 boo boos committed by the Rays.
Let’s face it. With the AL’s worst bullpen, the Angels need to catch their breaks wherever they can get them. In what ultimately was a one run game, watching Darren Oliver load the bases in the 7th and Jason Bulger give up a first pitch homerun to Ben Zobrist in the 8th, gave me my usual gameday anxiety. The difference was, things actually went the Angels’ way. When Carlos Pena hit a bullet down the right field line with the bases loaded, he should’ve had 3 RBIs. Instead, Kendry Morales stuck his glove out and stopped that ball dead in its track. He even looked a little surprised that the ball was in his glove as he stepped on first to double off Evan Longoria. I had to replay it 3 times to believe it myself.
And Brian “The Closer Poser” Fuentes had to be grateful for that game-ending double-play because it’s not like he’s coming in throwing strikes. Ironically, Jose Arredondo, who had my vote at the end of last season to take over when Frankie Rodriguez left, was sent back down to Salt Lake today, more depressing evidence of continuing bullpen woes.
My feel-good guy of the season, Matt Palmer, has lost his spot in the starting rotation with Lackey, Santana and now Escobar all returning from the DL. I’d like to see him get some innings of relief work. He’s definitely proven himself and we’ve seen his ability to pitch his way out of real trouble, a skill that current relievers haven’t seemed to master. Bottom line, he’s got the stuff so let him bring it!
Today was draft day. Call me old-fashioned but I’m a huge fan of the draft. I’m not talking sports. I mean this draft:
In my line of work, I encounter hundreds of young men seeking employment. On one end of the spectrum, I have to note gang affiliations based on neck tattoos and question gaps in previous employment due to time in the state pen. On the other end, I have to get used to being called, “Ma’am” and hear about extensive and valuable training received while in the military. Barring a Chinese invasion, I don’t see a mandatory draft being reinstated. Too bad. I’ve seen firsthand what a couple years of military service does for a young person. I’ve seen the discipline, the self-esteem, the pride. Before I’m labeled a war-mongering, right-winger (I’m not), let me ask you this: If you were a prospective employer, who would you rather I send you?
Back to baseball…okay, as I said, the Angels must capitalize on any break that comes their way to compensate for their inconsistent bullpen. They did tonight, turning Rays’ errors into runs. With Texas taking a beating from Toronto (0-9), the gap is once again closing. But this is far from a 2 team race as Oakland has steadily gained ground, winning 8 of their last 10, including a 7 game win streak. In the east, the Red Sox and Yankees are battling head-to-head for the top spot and no one’s running away with it in the central. It’s June and it’s still anyone’s game.
Baseball…never let them see you sweat.