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.
Baseball…something to smile about.
I have very little sentimental attachment to hardly any of the cities that are home to other American League teams. Sure, Seattle is one of hubby’s and my favorite places to visit and New York is one of my favorite places to visit (without my hubby), but Kansas City, Cleveland, Baltimore, Arlington and Oakland are merely cities I’ve passed through on my way to somewhere else. I once spent six hours in Boston when my cruise ship stopped there on the way to Nova Scotia. Detroit, Tampa Bay or Minneapolis? Never been. Toronto? What’s that all “a-boot”? And then there’s Chicago. Ah…Chicago. What memories.
Yes, this Angels fan was born and partially raised in Chicago. And while the Cubs are my #2 team (a distant #2), I hate the White Sox. Why? Well, that’s mostly because I am very good at holding a grudge.
And it just wouldn’t be a typical Angels / White Sox game if AJ Pierzynski didn’t do something to piss me off. Did he really try to say Chone Figgins left 3rd base too early on a sac fly by Bobby Abreu in the 5th?!? Figgy? Base runner extraordinaire? Are you kidding me? Pierzynski is such a stinkin’ weasel. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Okay, it’s hardly worth mentioning the minor issues John Lackey had early on, considering all that went wrong for White Sox starter Jose Contreras. The 3rd inning proved to be his undoing as he walked Erick Aybar and Gary Matthews, Jr. to start the inning. Jeff Mathis’s sac bunt moved them to 2nd and 3rd and then Figgy took a walk and the bases were loaded. A wild pitch scored Aybar and Bobby Abreu scored two more with the first Angel hit of the night. When Vladimir Guerrero came to the plate in his first game back from the DL, Contreras was understandably irritated but his next pitch nearly sent Vlady back to the DL when it came dangerously close to Vlady’s left ear. When Contreras walked Vlady, his night was was over. Unfortunately, the night wasn’t over for the White Sox and reliever Kevin Jepsen gave up back-to-back hits to Jayson Nix and Scott Podsenik that gave the Sox the walk-off win and brought the Angels’ five game win-streak to a grinding halt.
In a game that only yielded 5 Angel hits, the bright spot had to be John Lackey’s 8 solid innings. He gave up 4 runs on only 5 hits and probably could’ve lasted longer than his 113 pitches. We’ll see how rookie Sean O’Sullivan does Wednesday night against Gavin Floyd. O’Sullivan pitched a no-hitter, giving up just one walk in the 7th, in AAA last week. He locates a mean fastball and has real poise on the mound. I just hope we’ll be seeing more of the run support we saw in Minnesota.
I must mention that earlier today the legendary Hank Aaron remarked about the recent leak of players’ names on the infamous 2003 drug test list. He believes the entire list of 104 players who tested positive for performance enhancing substances should be released. I completely agree with him. My opinion is, that by releasing all of the names, Major League Baseball and its fans, as a community, can deal with the issue and hopefully move on. But I also believe that full disclosure of the list is owed to all of the baseball greats, past and present, who have watched their long-standing records shattered in this steroid era. They deserve to know whether or not their records were broken legitimately or with a little chemical “help”. I think it’s only fair to Mr. Aaron and others like him who played the game and set those records without the assistance of performance enhancers. Come on, Mr. Selig. We all deserve to know. Do the right thing.
Baseball…we mean clean!
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.
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.
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!
Monday night’s game in Texas pitted the Angels’ rookie Sean O’Sullivan against the Rangers’ resident headhunter, Vicente Padilla.
I’d heard he’d been pitching better since being optioned by the Rangers. He had little trouble keeping the Angels in check through 3 but gave up a few hits that the Angels put together for their first run of the game. O’Sullivan had given up back-to-back homers in the 3rd but managed to shake it off and not allow any further damage. In the 6th inning, the Angels exploded all over Padilla and sent him packing.
The Angels scored 4 runs, including a 2 run shot by Juan Rivera and a solo HR by Kendry Morales. The Angels defense was hot and the bullpen was slick.
There was no fooling around there and closer Brian Fuentes notched #22 in his save belt. (Thank you, Brian.) At the end of the game, the Angels were 2.5 games up in the west. Tuesday night was a different story. Starter Joe Saunders was not on his game. It was obvious from the very start. Saunders gave out homeruns like candy to trick-or-treaters.
Only the Rangers didn’t have to say “please” or “thank you”. Saunders lasted just 3 and 2/3 and had allowed 8 earned runs, 4 of those homers…the most in a single outing in his career. Forget Halloween. The Rangers can consider this game an early Christmas present. While I’m sure the Rangers felt like this:
I felt a little more like this:
But I won’t despair. It could’ve been worse. As the Angels launched their last-ditch effort in the 9th, loading the bases and scoring 2 runs, the announcers made it clear that anything was possible. Their example? The Orioles had been down 10-1 to the Red Sox and had just come back to win that game 11-10. Now that made me feel better.
Baseball…fair and balanced.
The Angels looked very unprepared for their meeting Monday night with the Colorado Rockies.
The game was an unmitigated disaster, with one notorious notation: the Angels set a club record for wild pitches. Matt Palmer, in his shortest outing and first loss, gave up 6 runs before he was pulled after 4 and 2/3 innings. And the Angels’ relievers? Total meltdown.
Ironically, the final score, 1-11, was the exact same score as the final game in Tampa Bay. We all know what happened after that game.
Mike Scioscia let the team have it and overnight they began to play like a team who should be in first place in the west. I want them back.
Tuesday night was an improvement over Monday’s total trampling…not by much, but enough to get the job done. Rookie Sean O’Sullivan made his second start and although he didn’t get the win, he kept the Rockies from running away with the game. Angel pitchers kept the Rockies 0 for 10 with runners in scoring position. Down 2-3 in the 8th, Jeff Mathis took a walk, followed by a pair of bunts by Figgins and Aybar. The table was perfectly set for Bobby Abreu to drive in 2 runs and the Angels had the lead. Closer Brian Fuentes took over in the 9th and did his thing, including 2 strikeouts! He collected his 20th save, most in the AL. The Angels’ win combined with the Rangers’ loss to the Diamondbacks have the Angels tied for first in the west with Texas.
I’m sure everyone noticed Vladimir Guerrero’s newly shorn locks, no doubt an attempt to pull himself out of a David Ortiz-like hitting slump. It may not have helped Tuesday night, but let’s hope it has an effect soon, not just for the team’s sake. Like Big Papi, it’s tough to watch a hitter like Big Daddy Vlady struggle at the plate. At least he’s been hitting, but you know he’s trying to find his big swing. 30 of his 36 hits have been singles, not exactly the power we’re used to seeing.
The series with the Rockies wraps up Wednesday night, then it’s off to Arizona for 3 with the Diamondbacks. Then we’ll see what the standings look like at the conclusion of interleague play before the Angels head to Texas. Hopefully by then, the Angels will just be looking to put some distance between themselves and a 2nd place Texas. In the meantime, every division continues to be a real race. Gotta love it.
Baseball…we move the world.
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.
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.
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.
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???
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?
The taste of victory. It’s delicious, isn’t it? And I’m sure Angels fans all over the world are sleeping a bit better these days. Not only have we seen our team turn it around seemingly overnight, we’ve been enjoying many “firsts” associated with all of the recent wins.
We saw my ALL-STAR Torii Hunter hit 3 homers in a game for the first time on Saturday. Sunday gave us Jered Weaver’s first career shut-out. He went the distance and kept the Padres off the board, giving up only 5 hits. He lowered his ERA to 2.08 and is now second in all of baseball, behind Zack Greinke.
Monday night’s game with the Giants continued this trend of firsts. Sean Rodriguez had his first home run of the season. Big John Lackey took a turn at the plate and engaged in a 10 pitch duel with Barry Zito. Had he struck out at that point, I would’ve been happy just with him burning up that many pitches. Instead, he had a solid hit up the middle which also gave him his first RBI. Lackey had a chance to come around and score a run as the Angels exploded for 7 runs in the 4th, knocking Zito out of the game. Lackey went a full 7 innings, striking out a season high 10 and walking none. He had a comfortable 7 run lead that dwindled away to a 2 run lead in the 9th after Jepsen gave up a 3 run homer. But Brian Fuentes came in and got the last out. Thank you, Brian. That definitely helps.
And the firsts continue as rookie Sean O’Sullivan makes his major league debut on Tuesday, filling in for starter Ervin Santana who is experiencing some elbow pain. It’s a little disconcerting to now have the second starter back from rehab, who doesn’t seem to have rehabbed all the way. But I’m not going to panic. Matt Palmer has been a worthy substitute in the rotation and O’Sullivan had 16 wins last season with the Cucamonga Quakes. His pitching style has been described as being a lot like Jered Weaver’s, with great command of his fastball. At least his debut comes at a time when the Angels have seemed to remember how to hit and score lots of runs. The Angels have scored a total of 35 runs in their last 4 games. I’ll be rooting for the rookie, and with a name like Sean O’Sullivan, you know he’ll have the luck of the Irish with him!
With their sweep of the Padres and their win against the Giants Monday night, the Angels have a win streak going. Do your own math because I’m superstitious and don’t want to jinx it. It may not be a Colorado Rockies-type win streak, but it’s a WIN STREAK and right now, we’ll take it!
Baseball…manly, yes…but I like it too!