Tagged: Reggie Willits

Rays…A Drop of Golden Sun

My Angels completed their sweep of the Tampa Bay Rays today and it put me in such a chipper mood I thought I’d walk home from work.

 

Okay, not really.  But I was singing in the car the whole way.  Does that count?  It was a great series for many different reasons.  I’ll start with the obvious…we won all three games.  Monday night was a back and forth battle as each team took turns scoring all the way until the 7th inning when Vladimir Guerrero hit his second homer of the night. 

    

It was no ordinary homerun…it was Vlady’s 400th and as it turned out, was the game winner.  How cool is that?  Big Daddy Vlady is back!

Monday’s game may have been all about the offense, but Tuesday night’s game was a rubber match.  Ervin Santana went toe-to-toe with David Price but the Angels eventually got to Price whereas the Rays were left lifeless by Santana. 

                             

He threw a complete game giving up only 3 hits in the 6-0 shutout.  5 of the Angels’ 6 RBIs came courtesy of Jeff Mathis and Reggie Willits, hitting in the #8 and #9 spots.  Mathis came inches from having the Angels’ first grand slam of the season.  He and Willits were perfect in the clutch but truly the night belonged to Santana.  Ervin the All-Star is back!

Wednesday’s game marked the MLB debut of right-hander Trevor Bell.  The 22 year-old was impressive through 5 and 1/3.  The Angels were down 4-2 when Mike Scioscia pulled him but had Scioscia known what the Angels bats had in store for the second half of the game, I suspect he would’ve let Bell stick around. 

                              

In the bottom of the 6th, Gary Matthews, Jr. connected for a 3 run shot that literally got the ball rolling.  That was followed up with Howie Kendrick’s own 3 run homer in the bottom of the 7th, which turned out to be a 5 run inning.  Angels’ relievers allowed a combined 3 hits, 1 a solo HR to Pat Burrell given up by Jose Arredondo, who has rejoined the team after doing a little time in triple A.  With a final score of 10-5, it was just one of those games that was a blast to watch.  It had something for everyone, great pitching, great hitting, a few stolen bases and a couple of long balls thrown in for good measure.  And once again, we got to watch a rookie make it to the big time.  I always get a kick out of that.

                      kick.jpg picture by lafmyers

The Angels are traveling to Baltimore Thursday and on Friday they play the first of 20 consecutive games without a day off.  They are currently sitting 5 games ahead of the Rangers but I’d hardly call that a comfy cushion.  I’m just glad they’ve been playing well on the road as they meet up with the Orioles, Indians and Blue Jays during this next road trip.  I’m also loving the way each game is a sweet surprise as far who’s contributing the big hits.    And my Torii Hunter is expected to be ready for Saturday’s game.  I ask you, Angels fans…does it get any better???

                                                

 

Baseball…Play.  Laugh.  Grow.

 

 

Eight Tastes Great!

What team doesn’t expect a lot from the meat of their order?  Who doesn’t want one of their big guns coming up to the plate with a couple men on and the game on the line?  Let’s face it.  With Torii Hunter, Vladimir Guerrero and Juan Rivera all on the DL, the Angels meat of the order has gone from looking like this:

                          

to looking like this:

                   burger.jpg picture by lafmyers 

But not like some cheap fast-food burger…more like one of those really good restaurant burgers where the server asks you how you want it cooked.  And you can get mushrooms on it.  Or bleu cheese.  Yum.

But much can be said for appetizers.  Sometimes you get to the restaurant and you’re starving, so you quickly grab the menu and order a couple of appetizers and you start munching on a plate of tasty little morsels and before you know it, you’re so full you don’t even need to order an entree.  Appetizers are delicious too and sometimes they’re just enough to get the job done. 

         appetizers.jpg picture by lafmyers

But every once in a while, you just want dessert.  Something decadent and rich to satisfy that sweet-tooth.  Maybe drizzled with something on top or oozing with a creamy filling.  Desserts are always less expensive than dinner but sometimes they sure do hit the spot, don’t they? 

             desserts.jpg picture by lafmyers

And then there are times when I go to a restaurant, I look over the menu and I still can’t make up my mind.  I just don’t know what I’m in the mood for.  That’s when I usually just go with whatever the chef recommends.   

                       

How can you go wrong?  The Angels are a veritable buffet of baseball talent.  In any given game, you just don’t know who will pack the biggest punch or pull off the unexpected.  They are multi-talented and oh-so flexible.  But more importantly, they’ve got chemistry and chemistry should never be underrated.  This is a group of men that obviously enjoy playing together and have tremendous respect for each other.  This hasn’t happened by chance.  The Angels organization puts as much emphasis on personality and sportsmanship as it does talent and ability.  We don’t hear about turmoil in the clubhouse or rivalry between players.  This, with a team that has rotating outfielders, two catchers and has started a dozen pitchers.  You’d think there would be reports of animosity or players jockeying for positions, but there’s none of that.  All we see is a group of guys playing hard together, then celebrating together.  Considering it wasn’t long ago that we watched this same group of guys mourning together, this recent streak of come-from-behind and edge-of-your-seat wins is all the more meaningful.  If any team has come from behind this season, it’s the Angels.  And this Angels fan is loving it.

 

Baseball…it’s what’s for dinner.

 

 

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. 

                                 yes-we-can.gif image by bgo4laabb 

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. 

                 megaphone.jpg picture by lafmyers

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!

 

 

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.