Tagged: Scott Kazmir

There’s No Place Like Home

If only it was this easy:

                 

Just in the nick of time, my Angels escaped the cold, bitter chill of the Bronx and came back home to the warm embrace of Southern California and the Angels faithful.  What a difference 3000 miles makes and I ain’t just talking about the weather.

     Angels catcher Jeff Mathis reacts to his deep drive bouncing off the wall in left field, allowing Howie Kendrick to score from first base with the winning run against the Yankees in the 11th inning of Game 3 of the ALCS on Monday.

Proving once again, that with the Angels there’s no telling where, or from whom, the win will come, Jeff Mathis gave us all something to cheer about.  Considering how disappointing (more like heartbreaking) Games 1 and 2 in New York had been, we all knew our boys needed to get back home to change the momentum of the ALCS series.  Torii Hunter said he was glad to be back, “…to work on my tan!”  And the generous dose of sunshine on Monday, certainly helped.

                  

Now, if you’re expecting some trash talk about the Yankees, I’m afraid I will have to disappoint you.  Let’s face it.  The Angels and the Yankees are both top-notch teams that are playing below their actual ability.  The Yankees were able to take advantage of Angel errors in game 1, but missing was their signature long-ball.  The Angels bats were cold…both figuratively and literally.  Honestly, I couldn’t help but grab my Angels logo throw blanket to snuggle with on the couch while watching that icy wind rip through Yankees Stadium.  Maybe my A/C was on too high.  Or could it have been the frozen yogurt I was eating?

                                       

Game 2 was just plain nuts.  That game, literally, could have gone either way.  There were no big heroics, no jaw-dropping plays.  Both teams made errors, neither team was able to deliver much of anything with runners in scoring position.  It was a 13 inning marathon between two mediocre playing teams.  I don’t really understand the purpose of pointing the finger of blame at any one or two players.  If you want to pick apart a team’s performance half-way through the season, go for it.  Second guess the manager all you want.  But when it comes to the play-offs, it’s just a waste of time and energy and can really drive fan morale straight into the ground.  Could’ve, should’ve, would’ve.  The quicker you put a play-off loss behind you, the better.  What’s done is done, and you have to look forward with hope and optimism because as a fan, that’s all you can do.  To me, the real heroes of that game were the faithful Yankees fans who braved the rain, cold and risk of hypothermia to be there for the final pitch.  Kudos to them! 

                             

In these tough economic times, it’s nice to know the Angels and the Yankees are doing their part to help fans get the most bang for their ticket buck as they again, threw in a couple of “bonus” innings on Monday.  Game 3 looked and felt different than the games in NY.  The sky was blue, the sun was shining and I didn’t spot one parka or umbrella in the crowd.  But if Angels or Yankees fan were waiting for their team to turn it on or bust out with the kind of play that got them to this point in the first place, they’re still waiting.  Instead, the game stayed close, going into the 10th, tied 4-4.  And again, it could’ve been anyone’s game.  Thankfully, it was the Angels.  And kudos to the faithful Angels fans who braved the balmy warm afternoon with just the perfect breeze blowing in from left field and the very real possibility of a touch of sunburn on the bridge of their noses….ha.  Just kidding. 

    

Game 4 is just about a half hour away.  Scott Kazmir takes the mound for the Angels while CC Sabathia will be back with just 3 days rest.  I’m ready to see the Angels play like they have all season…smart, gutsy and balls out.  But if I’m being honest, I’ll take a win any way we can get one.  Let’s go ANGELS!!!

 

Angels Baseball…Fan Strong!

 

 

The Boys of Bummer?

No, I’m not going to give my Angels a merciless tongue lashing.  I’m not going to dissect their lackluster performances in both of their losses to the Yankees either.  I will, instead, point out the single bright-shining event of the last few days.  The Angels gained a half game on the Rangers and their magic number is now 4. 

                               

And how did this happen?  My Angels had a day off.  Oh, and Oakland beat the pants off the Rangers, 12-3.  How else could it have happened?  My Angels have lost some steam and frankly, I’m baffled by it.

                       

The addition of Scott Kazmir to the starting rotation has done much to reinforce a slightly shaky starting rotation.  We’ve seen the bullpen find their groove with Jason Bulger, Kevin Jepsen, Darren Oliver and Matt Palmer providing solid relief.  They’ve continued to hit, though perhaps not on the grand scale we saw last month.  But most of the starting line-up continues to maintain batting averages hovering around the .300 mark.  They did out-hit the Yankees in the last two games but they’ve not been hitting in the clutch.  On Wednesday, the Angels went 0 for 10 with runners in scoring position!  It’s as if all of the “post-season preview” talk that surrounded their games with both the Yankees and the Red Sox, had a terrible effect on my Angels.  I certainly don’t have any medical experience (I do have a nifty box of Sponge Bob band-aids) but I’ve made my own diagnosis.

       

My Angels are suffering from a case of “post-season jitters” also known as the “championship chokes”.  We’ve seen the symptoms before: sudden lack of confidence, uncharacteristic sloppy base running, sudden onset of unexplained errors.  We know this is not typical of our usually sharp and on-the-ball (literally) Angels but it is an ailment we’ve seen in post-seasons past.  Maybe this bug has struck early this season?  And maybe, just maybe, it will run its course over the next week and be out of their system by the time the real play-offs start.  Wouldn’t that be perfect?

                                            

I want my Angels to show up in October brimming with confidence, bringing their A game and being the superstars I know they are.  I want bats blazing, lightning fast speed on the base pads and defensive plays being executed with the surgical precision that takes our breath away a second time when the re-play rolls. 

                                         

Let’s face it.  2002 was magical…from start to miraculous finish.  It cannot and will not ever be duplicated.  But I don’t know a single Angels fan who hasn’t had a “feeling” about this season.  There’s no denying it would be an amazing story of tragedy to triumph.  I’m not saying the Angels should win the World Series because Nick Adenhart died.  But I sure would love to see them win it for Nick.  That would be a story.  And my favorite stories all have happy endings. 

 

Baseball…make someone happy.

 

 

Throwing Them A Bone

I’m just kidding.  Continuing the theme of giving credit where credit is due, the Angels fought the good fight but were eventually done in by the Yankees stealing a page from the Angels’ play book. 

                                   

(Hey, wait a minute!  Is it me or does she look a little like Kate Hudson?) 

Chad Gaudin was rock-solid through the first 4 innings.  Ervin Santana had some struggles though he managed 7 strike-outs in his 6 innings.  By the time the Angels started to chip away at the Yankees’ 5 run lead, it turned out to be too little, too late.  Tied at the top of the 9th, the Yankees did exactly what they needed to get their go-ahead run and although Mariano Rivera looked a bit shaky, he was able to wrap up the win.  With the win (or the Rangers’ loss), the Yankees became the first team to secure their spot in the playoffs.  I look forward to an Angels / Yankees match-up in the ALCS.  (From my lips to God’s ears…!)

                             

Speaking of playoffs…the Rangers’ loss also took the Angels’ magic number to 5.  Tickets for the Angels’ possible appearance in the ALDS went on sale today.  I say possible because I’m certainly not going to jinx anything.  My MLB Angels Mastercard may or may not have come out of my wallet today.  I’m not telling.  Yet.  But I will say this, I did something five months ago that should guarantee my Angels make it to the World Series.  While I can’t talk about it (obviously), when it happens, I just hope I’ll get MY credit when credit is due.  I’m making a HUGE sacrifice for my Angels.  And my hubby thinks I’m doing it all for him.  Ha.

                         

Wednesday’s third and final regular season game with the Yankees is a day game.  Scott Kazmir faces off against AJ Burnett and I sincerely hope we can get Kazmir another win.  I saw news footage today of the first snow fall in Colorado but I can tell you it’s supposed to be a scorcher here in So. Cal.  The heat, combined with a 12:30 PM game time, will have the stands looking like the Royals are in town but I doubt the game will lack any of the excitement we’ve come to expect when the Bronx Bombers come to Anaheim.  Who’s ready for a re-match?

 

Baseball…life in motion.    

 

 

Winning Words

Tuesday night’s game versus the Mariners featured the same pitching match-up that we saw last week up in Seattle…Scott Kazmir and Felix Hernandez.  Again, Kazmir was solid, going 7 innings and giving up 1 run on 3 hits.  And again, Kazmir’s performance failed to garner him a much deserved win.  But at least this time the Angels were the victors, winning it walk-off style in the 10th.  As much as I don’t particularly like close games, “closer” (and I must use that term loosely) Brian Fuentes, had better get some time on the mound in these last few weeks or he will be a liability in the post-season.  The second pitch home run he gave up to Mike Sweeney that forced a 10th inning was really hard to watch.  When he followed that up with two walks, Jason Bulger had to come in and rescue the inning and ultimately, the game.

                           

Jered Weaver had a good night on Wednesday, striking out 8 in 6 and 1/3.  In all fairness, Ian Snell and Jason Vargas weren’t too shabby either.  The difference in the game was what happened with runners in scoring position.  The Angels were 3 for 10 with a base clearing double from Kendry Morales in the first inning.  The Mariners were 0 for 7.  It was almost a good thing that Trevor Bell gave up a run in the top of the 9th.  Brian Fuentes needed the practice…and got the save, number 40.  Of course, this is my favorite 40:

                                    

As we dig deeper into this final stretch, I can’t help but think about how consumed I am with my Angels and baseball.  Consider how everyday words are taken over by baseball fans and now only pertain to the game and the road to the championship:

Clinch – Really…isn’t it everyones’ favorite verb?  What other word can elicit the ultimate sigh of relief from a baseball fan?

Division – Math term?  I think not.  There’s three in each league and that’s all that matters.

Wild Card – Has nothing to do with poker all though the term “Texas Hold ‘Em” may still apply.

Record – In this age of CDs and Ipods, this one’s easy.  Wins and losses, plain and simple.

October – The only month that matters.  April is a close second.

Yankees – Used to be only Scarlett O’Hara could make it sound like a curse word.  Now we all can.

 

            

Let’s face it.  Certain words hold special meanings for baseball fans during baseball season.  Just last week my mom mentioned on the phone that she had bought an “Angel” something for my car.  How very cool, I thought.  It’ll be a great addition to my Angels license plate frame, Angels antenna ball and Angels window flag.  I picked it up this weekend:

                                         

Ooops.  Guess I forgot there are other kinds of angels.  What can I say?  It’s baseball season.

 

Baseball…we love to fly and it shows.

 

 

The Heat Is On

While the summer may be winding down, the race to the play-offs is definitely heating up.  It’s been over a week since I’ve had a chance to praise/criticize/brag about/plead with my Angels but I’ve not missed a minute of all the action. 

                             

The Angels started off their road trip on a high note last Monday as they shut out the Mariners and scored 10 runs.  Thankfully, my week got very busy after that.  Step-son-in-law’s birthday, a couple of days with my niece before she headed back to school, got a tattoo, family BBQ, work…having lots going on definitely helped to ease the sting of the Angels’ second and third games in Seattle.  I was unable to watch those games live and was more than happy to fast-forward through them, then quickly delete them from the DVR. 

          

Tuesday was awful.  The Angels’ loss to the Mariners, combined with the Rangers winning both games of their double-header, had the Angels losing 1.5 games in the standings in a single day.  And Wednesday wasn’t any better as Scott Kazmir’s great Angels’ debut was squandered when his teammates provided absolutely ZERO run support.  Not exactly a warm welcome.

                                 welcome-to-the-family.gif image by dazzlejunction

Luckily, things improved when the Angels got to Kansas City.  They managed to win the first game on only 3 hits and took the second game in extra innings.  By Sunday, my boys were looking much better, hitting and dazzling us with 4 perfectly synchronized double-plays. 

                  

Monday, Monday…can’t trust that day.  I was ready for the sweep.  Me, the couch and the remote for live, uninterrupted viewing of the game…on a paid day off!  What’s better than that?  Oh wait…I know this one…A WIN?!?!  No such luck.  Instead it was 3 errors and 12 left on base. 

                   

The Angels are headed home and will face the Mariners again.  Their schedule for these final 26 games of the regular season is tough.  Yankees, Red Sox, White Sox…all critical games.  The Angels have not played their best ball against the teams in their own division and they have 7 more games with the Rangers, who I’m sure will be hoping to make their move and surge ahead in the final two weeks.  We’re getting quality starts and seeing fantastic defense.  It’s time for the Angels’ bats to heat up again and make it happen.  Fasten your seatbelts, baseball fans.  It’s going to be a bumpy ride!

 

Baseball…catch the wave!  (But don’t DO the wave…it’s a rally killer!!!!!)

 

 

Win, Lose, Win and a New Angel

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.