Tagged: Twins

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. 

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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!  

 

 

Taking Triplets From Twins

It wasn’t long ago that Angels fans were feeling complete panic after hearing that, not one but TWO, of their best players were headed to the DL.

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Speculation began as to whether the Angels could keep up with the Rangers while Vladimir Guerrero and Torii Hunter spent time on the bench.  But soon, Angels starters began to struggle.  The starting rotation that had kept the Angels in contention in the first place, was having a tough time getting through 3 or 4 innings without giving up an almost insurmountable amount of runs.  Joe Saunders, Ervin Santana and Jered Weaver have all been having problems with their precision and it isn’t pretty.

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With the Rangers not giving up any ground, the Angels would have to rely on their offense to give their starters support and, hopefully, keep winning games.  And they’ve responded to these latest challenges by putting up big numbers as we saw in this last 3 game series with the Twins.  The Angels have become Masters of the Big Inning.

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This was definitely the case when they scored 6 runs in the 11th inning on Friday night.  “Well, that’s going to be a strange looking box score,” I thought to myself when it was over.  Sure enough, my phone rang the next day. 

Mom:  I don’t get it.
Lucky Lori:  Get what?
Mom:  How did the Angels score 6 in overtime?
Lucky Lori:  Well, they hit the ball and scored 6 runs.  In extra innings, not overtime.
Mom:  Don’t they just have to score one more to win?
Lucky Lori:  If they were at home.  They were in Minnesota.
Mom:  Since when does the time zone have anything to do with it?
Lucky Lori:  Since never.  The home team gets to have another at bat.
Mom:  How many times do they get to bat in overtime?
Lucky Lori:  It’s extra innings, Mom.  Overtime is football.
Mom:  You know I hate football…ever since your father made me smuggle beer under my coat into the Rams game when I was seven months pregnant.
Lucky Lori:  Aren’t you missing “Murder, She Wrote”?
Mom:  Aren’t you pushing me to root for the Twins tomorrow?

Touché.

But I had nothing to worry about.  Not only did the Angels sweep the Twins, they did it with an exclamation point, scoring 35 runs in 3 games on 52 hits.  52 hits in 3 games?!?  Who does that?  All my Angels do.  Everyone did their share.  Bobby Abreu, Mike Napoli, Maicer Izturis, Juan Rivera and Sean Rodriguez each had a home run and Kendry Morales had three, two in Sunday’s game.  Napoli went 4 for 6, Abreu and Rivera went 3 for 5 on Friday.  Gary Matthews, Jr. and Napoli went 3 for 5 on Saturday and Morales went 3 for 5 on Sunday.  

    

Starters Ervin Santana (Friday) and Joe Saunders (Saturday) each lasted 6 decent innings and had to be happy with the powerful offense that oozed from their teammates.  On Sunday, Jered Weaver took the mound and stunned Angels fans with his new look.

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Gone were the trademark flowing, golden locks.  Perhaps in a Vlady-like bid to change his luck, Weaver opted for a buzz-cut.  Did it work?  Well, Weaver went 6 and 1/3 innings and struck-out 11 of the 24 batters he faced, a career high for him.  I’d say it may have done the trick.  I also think he looks less like Jeff Weaver’s brother now and more like another famous sibling.  I can’t find any pics of him sans cap to show you a comparison, but once I do, I’ll post it.  Who do you think he looks like with his not-so-beach-boy-bob?

            

The Angels are off on Monday then head to US Cellular Field to face the White Sox for 3.  The last 3 game series in May didn’t go well for my Angels.  They lost the first game 3-17 but did manage to pick up the last game.  I’d love to see them power through the Sox and keep on rolling into their Texas series.  Meanwhile, the Rangers will play 4 in Oakland.  Let’s hope the Angels have plenty of hits left in the tank.  Not only do they lead the MLB in hits with 1040, it’s been a blast to watch, hasn’t it?

 

Baseball…makes you look like you spent a fortune on your hair.

 

 

Winning & Whining

Okay, so I whined a little yesterday.  I didn’t expect to elicit any sympathy from baseball fans who have gone from drivers’ license to AARP card without their team making a play-off appearance.  What it boils down to is, I sometimes wonder if I have any business being a baseball fan in the first place.  It’s not that I don’t have the stamina, dedication and loyalty it takes to support my Angels.  There’s no question there.  But what kind of sane person invites stress into their life? 

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I’ll tell you who…me and obviously anyone who’s reading this.  Wouldn’t it be easier to be a fan of something that doesn’t really matter much?  There’s got to be something out there that would provide loads of pleasure with minimal pain. 

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I tried watching a sport fishing competition on TV with my husband.  Sure, it was kinda exciting but it was way too brutal for me.  I ended up feeling doubly guilty when I cooked up the salmon we caught in Alaska last year.  (On the grill with a little dill butter…deelish!)  And getting “skunked” is basically a shut-out on the high seas. 

       

I experimented with car racing.  I like cars and I like driving really (really) fast so this would be exciting, right?  I settled in to watch the Indy 500 with a cold Fresca and some salt and vinegar chips.  I dozed off during lap 37 and woke up during lap 162 with a chip in my hair.  When I did a little channel surfing and got stuck on an episode of “Hannah Montana”, I knew this was not the sport for me.  But if Helio Castroneves ever shows up on “Dancing With The Stars” again, I’ll be sure to tune in. 

     

I was running out of options so, because I’m a much bigger fan of animals than I am of humans, I watched the Westminster Kennel Dog Show.  Hmmm.  These dogs didn’t look like any dogs I’d ever seen in my neighborhood.  Not a cockapoo or labradoodle in the bunch.  No, these were more like the “Yankees” of dogs.  All pure-bred, perfect specimens with their snobby owners.  And the dogs didn’t look like they were having much fun.  No one threw a single Frisbee and the judges were disturbingly hands on.  Stranger danger, Spot.

          

I guess I’ll just have to stick with Angels Baseball…all of it.  The ups and downs, the highs and lows, the wins AND the losses.  Yep, they’re stuck with me.  But while my whining was just a momentary rant, I’d like to bring up some previous whining that was neither momentary nor truly warranted. 

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Almost the entire month of April, “fans” were very vocal about not wanting Kendry Morales at first base.  They criticized his defense and his hitting.  The comparisons to Mark Teixeira were unfair and patience was almost non-existent for Morales who was beginning his first season as an everyday player.  Not only has he silenced his critics, Morales’s is a bargain with real All-Star potential.

Erick Aybar had nearly the same amount of criticism as Morales.  Angels fans clearly remember Orlando Cabrera’s clutch bat and outstanding plays at short stop.  No one really wanted to give Aybar a chance but we have watched him blossom into a well-rounded player who is totally capable of hitting in the clutch, stealing bases and launching incredible double-plays.  Another All-Star in the making, for sure.

Gary Matthews, Jr. has probably borne the brunt of critical “fans”.  While I can understand where some of the criticism stems from, Matthews expected to be a starting outfielder when he came to the Angels.  Sure, he had his share of struggles last season, but by all accounts, not many players worked harder than Matthews in the off-season or at spring training to re-establish himself as an everyday player.  I have little doubt Matthews can put up big numbers like he did in Texas, but without a lot of playing time, you just can’t expect miracles.  When (if) Vlady comes back, it will be as a DH and having Matthews to rotate in the outfield will be a benefit in the long run.  We’re already starting to see what he’s capable of doing given some regular at bats.  I wish him lots of luck.  I hardly consider him some kind of villain.  He’s a player with heart who just wants to play.

                         

Yes, the trade deadline is fast approaching, but to be honest, I don’t have a whole lot to say on the matter.  What’s the point?  What happens, happens and I certainly don’t have any say in it.  In my perfect world, everything falls into place for the Angels with their current staff and together they battle all the way to a championship.  I know that right now the starting rotation is out of sync but every one of those guys has the potential to get it together and pull off starts like John Lackey did today in the Angels’ win over the Indians.  (And super kudos to Howie Kendrick on his 5 RBI’s.  He’s been picked on too so I’m happy to see Howie getting his groove back.)  There isn’t a single player I’d want to be traded or I think needs to be traded, but I will say this, as much as I’d hate to see Robb Quinlan playing somewhere else, he deserves much more playing time than he gets with the Angels.  He should have an opportunity to contribute everything he can to a club and it’s just not happening for him in Anaheim.  He’s an underrated talented guy.  He can do so much more if given the chance.   

The Angels are off Thursday then they will take their 60-40 record to Minnesota for more action with the Twins.  Oh, those pesky Twins!

                            

 

Baseball…double the pleasure, double the fun.

 

 

The Blame Game

Let’s talk about Sunday’s game, shall we?  There isn’t any point in coming down hard on Ervin Santana for his miserable 3 and 2/3 innings.  Why bother bringing up Shane Loux’s not so stellar 3 innings?  And is there any reason whatsoever to mention the icy cold Halo bats?  No.  The Angels lost, and lost hard, in a 1-10 pouncing by the Twins in the final game of their four game series.  But I know exactly who to blame for this loss.

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Ooops.  My bad.  I had absolutely NO business even typing the word “eight” in my last post.  I should’ve known it’d be the kiss of death for the Angels’ 8 game win streak.  I guess I just got overly confident and really thought it would be okay to give my boys a little pat on the back for the incredible way they’d been playing lately.  I will not make the same mistake twice so if you wonder why I fail to mention a winning or hitting streak or any other kind of pattern that may develop the rest of the season, just remember this post.  I apologize to anyone and everyone who may have been adversely affected by Sunday’s loss.  To all those who rejoiced or otherwise celebrated my Angels’ misfortune?  I give you the bird (X 5).

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                                      (That’s Lucy, Lily, Lola, Liza and Leo-na.) 

At least I was spared the horror of it all.  My friend asked me to run to Long Beach with her to help her buy a new couch.  We left just as the game was starting and didn’t think we’d be gone long.  After five long hours in a large furniture warehouse that lacked A/C, we already knew it hadn’t gone well for the Angels because when we called home, Mr. Lucky (Bubba) and her son, Zachary (Little Bubba) would only say, “You aren’t going to like it.”  My friend remained optimistic and thought they might just be teasing us.  I knew they weren’t.  I am my husband’s polygraph machine.  I don’t even need to see his face.  I knew he was telling me the truth.  When we got back to the house, both Bubbas were at a neighbor’s so I began to play back the game on fast-forward.  Zachary stuck his head in the back door just as I got to Kendry Morales’s solo HR in the 4th.  He said, “Oh, so you saw their ONLY run?”  He slammed the door just in time and the remote control failed to smack him upside the head.  He’s quick, that kid.

                

I was looking forward to Monday night’s game with the Indians because the Angels have gotten very good at responding positively to an embarrassing smackdown.  Hmmm.  Joe Saunders gave up 2 runs in the top of the 2nd which didn’t rattle me at all.  Maybe one of those sweet come-from-behind wins was on the menu for tonight?

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When Juan Rivera, Kendry Morales and Mike Napoli had back-to-back-to-back solo shots in the bottom of the 2nd, it certainly appeared that way.  It wasn’t going to be easy as the Indians kept hitting and hitting and hitting.  Up 6-4 when closer Brian Fuentes came out in the 9th, things were looking good for the Angels.  With 17 straight saves in as many opportunities, Fuentes just needed to do his thing to lock in another W.  I won’t go into the gory details, but the Tribe had a couple long balls of their own left in them and the final score was 8-6, Indians.  Fuentes’s ERA jumped from 2.78 to 3.79 and he was unable to get a single out before being pulled.  Hey, he’s a man, NOT a machine!  Just like any closer out there (think Joe Nathan), he was bound to have a bad night and tonight he did.  I just hope he got it out of his system and can erase it from his mind.  The Angels really did minimize the damage with solid defense including 4 double-plays.  Had it been the Angels who got 20 hits, I have no doubt they would’ve scored WAY more than 8 runs.  See?  I knew there had to be a silver lining somewhere. 

                

 

Baseball…we’ll give you something to smile about!

 

 

Halos, Happiness and History

I probably could’ve used Ervin Santana’s new mouth guard for Wednesday night’s game with the Royals. 

                       

Even with these come-from-behind wins of late, I’ll admit to a little nail biting in the 8th inning when the Angels were down 6-4.  Maicer Izturis had tied it up with a seemingly effortless home run in the 3rd, but the Royals had come back and scored 3 in the 5th and 1 in the 6th.  The Angels were running out of outs when Mike Napoli tied it again with a 2 run shot.  Chone Figgins then climbed out of his Kansas City funk by hitting a bases-loaded double that scored 2.  It turned out to be a fun 5 run 5th and Justin Speier and Kevin Jepsen kept a lid on the Royals’ offense that had scored all 6 runs on Joe Saunders.  Brian Fuentes took over in the 9th, recorded his 30th save and secured a sweep of the Royals.  This forced me to ask the question:  Frankie Who?

               

A couple of notable events occured prior to Thursday night’s game with the Twins.  First, back home at the Big A for their series with Minnesota, the logo for the 2010 All-Star was unveiled.  Owner Arte Moreno, Mike Scioscia and Angels all-stars past and present were on hand for the unveiling.

     

Gotta love the halo and it’s obvious with just a glance, who will be hosting the game.  As far as logos go, I think it’s pretty cool.  I’d say it sure beats these: 

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Meanwhile, on the south side of Chicago, White Sox fans were witnessing history as Mark Buehrle demonstrated pitching perfection!  In just 2 hours and 3 minutes, Buehrle recorded only the 18th perfect game in major league history.  Teammate Dewayne Wise’s amazing 9th inning catch robbed Tampa Bay’s Gape Kapler of a home run and helped seal the deal for Buehrle.  Along with Prez Obama (who personally called him), I congratulate him on this incredible baseball feat.      

                               Buehrle pitches perfect game 

Now, on to Thursday night’s game.  Jered Weaver took the mound and immediately ran into trouble.  The Twins, having been shown up by the A’s the previous night in a humiliating 16-1 loss, were going to respond by playing tough and they wasted no time scoring 3 runs.  But after a shaky start, Weaver settled right down and worked a full 7 innings, giving up only 1 additional run in the 6th.  The Angels tried to play catch up the entire game, scoring 2 in the 5th and 1 in the 6th.  Going into the 9th, the Angels were trailing by just 1 run until reliever Jason Bulger gave the Twins 2 walks and a hit that they used to score another run.  Down 2 runs in the bottom of the 9th, in typical fashion, Mr. Lucky asked me if Texas had the night off.  When I told him they did, he began to reply, “Good.  At least we’ll only lose 1/2…”  I cut him off and begged him to go to bed or I’d make other sleeping arrangements for him. 

         

He wouldn’t, but promised to be quiet.  And I was anything but, as Twins closer Joe Nathan begins to lose all control of the inning.  He walks Abreu and Morales flies out.  Then Nathan hits Napoli with a pitch and Aybar flies out.  Gary Matthews, Jr. drops one right into shallow center field and Abreu scores!  The Angels are down just one run now.  Howie Kendrick hits one back at Nathan who knocks it down but it continues past him and looks like it’s headed right for the 2nd baseman’s glove…BUT IT DOESN’T!!  Instead, it bounces OFF the bag and rolls toward right field and the TYING RUN SCORES!!  That’s when I knew the Angels would win the game. 

            

And they did with Napoli doing the RBI honors.  It was a fantastic game, and although we’re getting used to these Angels come-from-behind victories (they lead the MLB with 31), this had to be the most dramatic win yet.  Tonight, announcer Terry Smith’s tagline, “Just another Halo victory!” was a huge understatement!

 

Baseball…the relentless pursuit of perfection.