Tagged: Tigers

Oh, October!

What a season.  Seriously.  Here we are, days away from the start of the playoffs and the AL Central will be decided by a one game tie-breaker on Tuesday.  The Twins and the Tigers will duke it out for the top spot and a chance to take on the Yankees. 

               tie.gif picture by lafmyers

It doesn’t really surprise me that it would take a tie-breaker to determine a division.  We’ve seen all kinds of crazy stuff this season.  Who would’ve thought, after their record setting start, that the Dodgers would struggle more with Manny than without him?  And who didn’t write the Rockies off before the All-Star break?  I actually thought the Cubs would’ve been contenders in the NL Central but I sure was wrong.  I wouldn’t have guessed the Mets would end the season with a record that resembled the Nationals’ more than the Phillies’. 

   

In the AL, the Yankees had a shaky start while the Red Sox looked like they would easily put insurmountable distance between themselves and the Bronx Bombers.  I’ll give the Yankees credit.  When they get their act together, they really get their act together and perform like a well-oiled machine.  A super-expensive machine.  The Rangers sure kept the battle for the west interesting.  Everyone kept expecting them to implode but that didn’t happen.  The Angels had to fight hard for every inch of ground they gained.  (If you’re reading this, Big Mike…yes, the Angels did finish 10 games ahead, exactly as you predicted, but it wasn’t easy.)

    

I’ll admit the last few days have been less stressful.  I watched the remaining games of the Texas series, as well as the final three games in Oakland, secure in the knowledge that my boys had made it to the postseason.  It was fun to watch the newbies take the field and do their best to impress the powers-that-be in the Angels organization.  Strike-outs?  Yawn…whatever.  Errors?  I just rolled my eyes.  None of it mattered.  How refreshing is that?

               

Carefree?  Yep…that’s me.  I haven’t felt like this since just before spring training.  On one hand, it feels like it’s been years since Opening Day.  On the other hand, it seems like it was just yesterday.  When I went to the Big A last Monday night to watch the Angels clinch the west, the usual video montage that’s played before games to the Train song “Calling All Angels”, had been replaced with a new montage that chronicled the 2009 season.  It was a bittersweet ride down memory lane and I found myself a bit emotional when it ended.  There wasn’t anything in it that I hadn’t already seen.  But I think that’s what got to me.  I realized I’ve been there for all of it, good and bad, happy and sad.  Just like seasons past, I haven’t missed a single moment of it.  I’ve cried with my Angels and I’ve rejoiced with them too.  And no matter what happens in the postseason, I’ll do the same next year.  Because I’m a fan and that’s what fans do.  I know for many players, it’s just a job.  But I’d like to think that it’s more than a paycheck.  More than a quest for a mention in the record books.  There may be a few hundred players but there’s millions of fans.  And without us there wouldn’t be Major League Baseball.

 

Baseball…good to the last drop!  

 

 

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.

 

 

Just A Touch of Heart Burn

That’s because I’m eating my words.  I know, I know.  I said I wanted a close race all the way into September.  Would you believe me if I said I was talking about the AL East?  How ’bout the NL West?  (Mannywood? Mannywoops!)  I’m the first to admit the last few games have been painful.

                   thrill.jpg picture by lafmyers

 

But on the bright side, it could be worse…

 

 sox-casket.jpg picture by lafmyers

I think what makes it so tough to watch the Angels struggling lately is the fact that they were playing so darned good!  They weren’t playing well and getting lucky.  They were playing like a true championship team.  I may be behind with my posting but I haven’t missed a single moment of Angels baseball.  Let’s do a quick little re-cap:

Saturday vs. Blue Jays (W 7-3)  Ervin Santana had a good 6 innings, Angels’ relievers were strong.  Offense combined for 11 hits with Erick Aybar going 3 for 4.  Vladdy and Juan Rivera each had a home run.  All in all, the Angels seemed to bounce back nicely after losing 2 in a row.

Sunday vs. Blue Jays (L 3-8)  Trevor Bell had his bell rung, giving up 6 runs in just 1 and 2/3.  The Angels managed to score 3 in later innings but on 12 hits, that was it.  The walks (6) didn’t help.  This was the 10th and final game of their road trip and it seemed as if they were victims of delayed jet lag. 

Monday vs. Tigers (L 7-10)   Oh, this one hurt.  By the time the Angels were able to score their first run in the 6th inning, they were already down by 10.  At this point, I was just happy it wouldn’t be a shut-out.  But then things started happening.  They scored 4 in the 6th and had scored 3 in the 8th with 2 runners on and 2 outs.  But then in came Fernando Rodney for a 4 out save and the party was over.  Bobby Abreu’s 3 run shot in the 8th turned out just to be for show. 

Tuesday vs. Tigers (L 3-5)   John Lackey again was going for career win #100.  And again, it was not to be.  The Angels looked as if they were going to pick up from where they left off the night before as Howie Kendrick skyed a 3 run shot to right field but former Angel Jarrod Washburn (a new Tiger) decided that was enough.  He and Tigers’ relievers held the Angels to 9 hits and no additional runs while all of the Tigers’ 5 earned runs were courtesy of Big John.

If this keeps up, the Rally Monkey’s gonna need some Prozac.

 

Fear not, Angels fans!  Drastic times call for drastic measures.  Yours truly, Lucky Lori, is headed to the Big A!  I will be there in person to whip my boys into shape and turn things around.  Now, I know I have not been out this season to see my Angels in person as much as I usually do, but the timing couldn’t be better.  With the Angels lead over the Rangers dropping to 4 games, we need a win on Wednesday.  The Rangers beat the Yankees 10-5 Tuesday night.  Come on!  WE do that…not stinkin’ Texas!  So yes, I’m fired up.  In fact, I’m not even worried about jinxing anything when I tell you the Angels have won every game I’ve been to this season.  And not only am I going to the game…it’s a day game!  That’s right, guess whose hubby gave her the day off?  It was pretty easy, actually.  I’ve been been walking around in a zombie-like state, clutching my Rally Monkey and mumbling, “Let’s get Figgy with it,” and singing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” totally off key.  He’s calling it a “mental health” day and he’s absolutely right.  Whatever it is, I’m expecting…no, demanding…a win and when it happens, I’ll come home in such a good mood he’ll probably score a little monkey lovin’.  I know, TMI. 

                        

On a serious note, Monday, August 24, would have been Nick Adenhart’s 23rd birthday.  My thoughts and prayers were with his family and friends on what I know was an unbearably difficult day.  July 30th was my dad’s birthday, the first one since his passing in March.  I know it’s supposed to get easier but I’m not experiencing that yet and don’t expect to for quite some time.  I miss him so much every day and continue to try to make the most of this baseball season without him.  I know he’ll be smiling on Wednesday when he sees two of his daughters and two of his grandkids having a great day out at the Big A.  With Dad as an Angel in the outfield, how can they lose?

 

Baseball…bringing families together. 

 

 

Motown Meltdown

I woke up Saturday feeling happy and hopeful.  The sun was shining and the birds were singing (outside and in).  Kelvim Escobar would be taking the mound that night in Detroit, which meant for the first time this season, the Angels’ starters were all healthy and rearing to go.

                                

The Angels’ win on Friday night was their 3rd in a row.  I was anticipating great things as I kept checking the clock all afternoon.  Finally, at 3:40 PM, I headed to the bird room and grabbed the vacuum, a sure-fire way to kill 20 minutes.  I vacuum that bird room every day, sometimes twice when they’re molting, and I know it takes exactly 20 minutes.  Well, I’ll spare you the paper chewing, food bowl dumping, lovebird-on-the-loose details but needless to say, I got sidetracked and when I looked at the clock again it was 4:28 PM!  What?!?!? 

                             

You know how sometimes you can miss the first 20 minutes of a movie and it’s no big deal?  Yeah?  Well, this wasn’t like that.  I ran into the family room just in time to see Escobar throw the last pitch of the first inning.  The score was 2-1, Tigers.  While waiting for the 2nd inning to start, I had that talk in my head where I said, “Okay, Escobar.  It’s only 2 runs.  Now, just settle down and you’ll be fine.”  He did and he was.  Trouble was, Detroit’s Edwin Jackson had the same talk with himself and he ended up with a complete game…a 4 hitter!  Escobar looked good through his 5 innings.  Not bad, considering Lackey only managed 2 pitches in his first start and neither were strikes…remember?  Angels’ relievers Bulger and Oliver, did their part to tame those Tigers and didn’t allow any more runs.

                            

So, as it turned out, that 2-1 score at the end of the 1st inning was also the final score of the game.  Super bummer. 

Sunday morning was a little different.  I dragged myself out of bed, (or rather was coaxed with a Jack-in-the-Box mango smoothie…thanks, honey) for the 10:00 AM game start.  Perhaps I should’ve stayed in bed and instead, dreamed of an Angels win?

                                           

‘Cause it sure wasn’t happening in real life.  It started off on a high note: the Angels scored 3 runs in the 1st including a solo HR by Chone Figgins, his first of the season, and a 2 run shot by Juan Rivera.  After that, I expected Joe Saunders to hit the mound and just mow the Tigers down. 

                             

It didn’t quite happen that way.  Angels’ pitchers walked 9 Tigers and sealed their fate when Bulger served up a grand slam to Clete Thomas that blew the 5-5 tied game wide open.  The Angels managed one more run in the 9th but it was too little, too late.

                                

I must mention that amid the doom and gloom, Bobby Abreu got his 2000th career hit, a double, sandwiched between the 2 HRs in the 1st inning.  Congratulations to him on being the 257th player to hit this milestone.

The Angels are off Monday as they travel to Tampa Bay.  At this point, I don’t know what to expect.  While the Rays may be in 4th place in the east, they lead the MLB in runs scored (324) and stolen bases (91).  Manager, Joe Maddon, a former apprentice of Mike Scioscia, likes to use the tricks of his old mentor against his former team. 

         

Let’s just hope Scioscia has a few tricks of his own up his sleeve.  With Texas taking 2 in Boston, we can’t afford to lose any more ground.

 

Baseball…we turn on ideas. 

 

 

Dueling In Detroit

I know the Angels have a reputation for being one of the toughest teams in baseball.  But just in case anyone hasn’t noticed, they’re not in first place in their division, they’ve managed one lousy 4 game win streak and they’re near the bottom of the list in home runs.  No, I’m not picking on my boys.  I’m merely pointing out to the rest of baseball that my Angels are really quite harmless.

            kittens.jpg picture by lafmyers

So…why not save your Greinkes, your Sloweys, your Wakefields and your Verlanders for the Yankees, the Red Sox or the Rangers?  Is it absolutely necessary to send your #1 and #2 starters out to the mound every time you face the Angels?  Isn’t there some rookie you think is ready for his first start or a reliever filling in for someone on the DL?  What’s that?  No, you say?  You want to keep sending your biggest gun to the front line to do battle with my Angels?  Fine.  If that’s the way it’s going to be, then I guess you leave us no choice.  We’ll just have to hit you with one of these:     

            

 

Or how ’bout one of these?

 

           

 

Oh yeah??  How ’bout one of THESE?

 

                                Ervin Santana

That’s right…with one nostril tied behind his back due to a persistent nose bleed, Ervin Santana still managed to battle toe-to-toe with the Tigers’ Justin Verlander in a pitching duel that had each team (and all of us fans) wondering who would blink first.

 

                stare.jpg picture by lafmyers

It was only after Fernando Rodney took over for Verlander in the 9th, that the Angels were able to score a couple of runs.  Verlander was on fire for 8, allowing only 4 hits and striking out 7.  Santana did his best to go the distance.  He too had 7 strike-outs and was deep into a shut-out when he came back out in the 9th.  Knowing what a tough week I’d had, he tried valiantly to keep me from having to endure an inning of Brian “The Closer Poser” Fuentes.  But finally, weakened from losing countless gallons of blood during his 8 and 2/3 innings and having finally surrendered one solitary run, he could fight no more.  And so he dragged himself, battered and still bleeding, from the battlefield.  (Okay, Scioscia went out to the mound and brought Fuentes in for the final out.)  I suddenly felt my own nose bleed coming on as my blood pressure began to skyrocket.  I knew I had to do something, and fast!  Using my telepathic powers (usually reserved for making Russian figure skaters bite it on a triple axel), I quickly sent a message to my Angels, begging them to get the last out any way they could.  (Funny, my message came back from Fuentes as “undeliverable”.)

 

                                     

With runners on the corners, Curtis Granderson popped a foul ball toward the 3rd baseline seats.  Chone Figgins had heard my message, loud and clear.  Out of nowhere, Figgy came charging and made a diving catch in the 14th (or maybe the 2nd) row to end the game!  He took a Tigers fan’s elbow to the mouth in the process, splitting his lip.  That’s right…my boys warriors aren’t afraid to bleed for a win!  And when they bleed, they bleed Angels…umm…red. 

Okay, so where was I?  Like I said, there’s really no reason to bring out the heavy artillery for my Angels.  Seriously, go look at their stats.  No big deal.  They’re certainly no threat.  There are much bigger fish to fry.  Don’t believe me, huh?  Still gonna send out your best Cy Young candidates?  Fine.  Bring ’em on!  Just don’t say I didn’t warn you.

 

Baseball…will you be ready?

 

 

Will The Real Angels Fans Please Stand Up?

Things are looking up for the Angels.  At least it’s been less of a rollercoaster and more like:

                    

They took 2 from Detroit, then lost 2 to the Mariners.  But they won the last game of the series versus Seattle and then headed to Baltimore where they won both games of a two game series.  Yes…that means they’ve put together a THREE game winning streak!  Woo hoo!

                  

Are so-called Angels fans still demanding Kendry Morales’ head on a platter?  Hardly.  The day after Angels Talk phone lines were clogged full of Kendry bashers, he had a 5 RBI game.  He, Izturis, Kendrick, Matthews and the solidly reliable Hunter and Abreu, were getting it together and putting runs on the board.  So, what’s an angry mob of “faux” fans to do?  Without missing a beat, they turned their attention to Scotty Shields and the rest of the bullpen.  And that’s when I get really mad.

     percy.jpg Percy picture by lafmyers

There is no more lonely a job out there than that of a pitcher.  I don’t have to spell out the misfortune that has befallen the Angels bullpen.  If you really are a fan, you know exactly what the situation is.  And if you really are a fan, you are kind and compassionate, not rude and belligerent.  I, for one, am in awe of pitchers.  What they do with a baseball and a grip defies all physics, if you ask me.  Not to mention, I can’t hit a garbage can with an empty Fresca can from three paces away!  I hate to disappoint the haters, but I must point out, the current three game win streak was due largely to Angels pitching.  Maybe that’s why the mob was now focused on Erick Aybar after today’s game.  It doesn’t matter that the Angels won.  They’re NOT in first place in the west so someone must pay (at least according to the angry mob).  Their cries of “Bring in Brandon Wood!” is reaching an Obama-like crescendo.  Doesn’t anyone remember what happened when he came up in ’07?  Wood will get his chance, and I hope for his sake he lives up to the hype this time.  Why is it so easy for these half-hearted fans to dismiss a player like Aybar based on a handful of games?   

Here we are, just hours away from the first of four games at the new Yankees Stadium.  I’ll admit, Angels fans have always gotten a little (okay, a LOT) of satisfaction out of being able to smack those Yankees around a bit.  Yeah, we refer to the Angels as “Yankee Kryptonite”.  When it comes to playing the Yankees, we’ve always been able to have a superior attitude like, well…like Yankees fans have when playing anyone other than the Angels.  But this series is going to be especially hard given the “David vs. Goliath” pitching match ups.

                             

Fresh from his major league debut, Anthony Ortega will square off against A.J. Burnett.  Matt Palmer will have his fifth major league start against C.C. Sabathia.  Okay, I’m nervous just typing it.  But have no doubt, I will be cheering for the rookies, as I always do.  And if you “pretend” Angels fans can’t cut your team a little slack right now, then fine.  This series against the Yankees couldn’t have come at a better time.  These four games will be the true test of your real “fan-ness”.  It’s survival of the fittest.  If you are not a true-red Angels fan, your cover will be blown.  Please keep in mind that I am much younger than this reference might indicate, but will the real Angels fans please stand up? 

        whatsmyline.jpg picture by lafmyers

   

 

Baseball…where the rubber meets the road.

 

Batting Practice?

Last week was tough.  On Tuesday I had a root canal and on Wednesday my boyfriend broke up with me.  Things turned around a little and on Thursday, I found a $20 bill in the laundry.  But by Friday it was back to bad news and I got demoted at work.  Saturday, my car was towed and on Sunday, my dog ran away.  Okay, I’m lying.  About all of it…the whole week.  My husband can tell you I don’t have a dog (or do laundry).  I just felt like all those things happened as I rode the the emotional rollercoaster I call Angels Baseball.  It made me think this:

                                        newspaper-1.jpg picture by lafmyers

There were a few highlights.  Ichiro Suzuki came off the DL and tied a record for most hits by a Japanese player with a grand slam.  Jason Kubel hit for the cycle with his HR being a grand slam.  Ken Griffey Jr. hit his 613th HR, which was also number 400 as a Mariner.  Oh wait…did you want Angels highlights?  Hmmmm.  Well, I can think of one.  Neither the Mariners nor the Twins scored 14 runs in one inning.  (Yikes!)  Honestly, we had some solid starting pitching including Darren Oliver’s start, his first since 2004.  But how much does that really matter when our relievers completely fall apart?  Yes, I know they’re young. 

     

But they’ve got the right stuff or they wouldn’t be getting their shot at the big league.  If it’s a matter of nerves, then they have to work it out and perform, or head back to Salt Lake City and wait for another perfect storm of injuries compounded by tragedy to bring them back to the majors.  I doubt they wish for those circumstances to reoccur so they’ve got to take this opportunity to shine.  Can’t someone slip a little Valium into the Gatorade?  Of course, it’s not all about the pitching.  It’s our hitting too, especially with runners in scoring position.  

                               

Tonight we’ll start our home series with the Tigers.  If the Angels are going to get anywhere, their bats need to heat up and their relievers need to calm down.  As a loyal fan, I’ll do my best to cheer them on as I head out to the Big A to watch the game close up.  If you see me, be sure to say “hi”.  I’ll be the one clutching a rally monkey…and a rosary!  Just kidding.  It’s early, right?  No worries.

Baseball…the quicker picker-upper.