Tagged: Vladimir Guerrero

Taming the Tribe

From Baltimore to Cleveland, the Angels are showing no sign of slowing down.  Tuesday night was the first game of three with the Indians and as I had hoped, rookie Trevor Bell got his first win.  Bell went 5 and 1/3 and although he gave up 9 hits, not a one made it over the wall and he was backed up by some great Angels defense.  The double-plays have been spectacular.  Sheer poetry in motion.

ballet.jpg picture by lafmyers

Of course, the Angels offense hasn’t been too shabby.  Every Angel in the lineup was an owner of a .300 batting average or better.  And what continues to impress me is the patience every player is showing at the plate.  Erick Aybar went 2 for 4 but he drew 2 walks.  Chone Figgins went 1 for 3 and he also drew 2 walks.  Who cares how they get to first base as long as they get there.  Just ask former Angel David Eckstein who, during his tenure with the Angels, developed quite the reputation for taking one for the team.  And the Angels must be at the top of the stats for getting to first on a bunt.  Aybar, Figgins and Izturis could always keep busy in the off-season by running relay races.  These guys are just plain fast.

                        

Any team would be lucky to have 1/3 of that kind of speed on the bases.  To top it off, they are excellent fielders and they can hit.  We’ll just call them our triple-triple threat.  And they’re just so darned cute!  They always look like they’re having the time of their lives.  Why not?  They are.  I can only imagine it’s like someone paying me a couple million to scrapbook for 8 months a year.  Shheessh.  If only.  You can bet your sweet bippie (although I have no idea what a bippie is) I’d be smiling the entire time, even if placed on the DL with a paper cut. 

                         

Wednesday night’s game had to have left the Indians shaking their heads.  Jeremy Sowers made the start for Cleveland and gave up only 4 hits to the Angels in 6 and 2/3 innings.  Indians relievers Chris Perez and Jess Todd threw shut-out baseball.  How could manager Eric Wedge ask for more?  Well, he’d probably ask for the win but, amazingly, that wasn’t to be.  Let’s just say Jered Weaver’s haircut was on fire.

      

Weaver threw his second career shut-out.  After the game, he was quick to give credit to catcher Mike Napoli and the rest of his teammates.  And it was a team effort with the Angels defense making incredible plays.  The only Angels runs came in the 5th inning when they combined a walk by Napoli, a double by Kendry Morales and a single by Howie Kendrick to score two.  Aybar beat a bunt to first, Figgy had a sac fly that moved Kendrick to 3rd and Bobby Abreu’s groundout scored the third run.  No one, and I mean no one, manufactures runs like the Angels.  They say imitation is the highest form of flattery so it doesn’t surprise me to see more and more teams attempting to play the Angels brand of baseball. 

                                 

It’s no secret Mike Scioscia has had a huge impact on the Angels as a team but it’s become more and more apparent that he has also made an impression on many other teams in the MLB.  Get ’em on, get ’em over, get ’em in.  It’s a pretty basic concept but in the wake of the whole Sammy Sosa / Mark McGuire whoopla, teams began relying on the long ball to win games.  Think of how many teams rely on their DH to clear the bags and win games?  A DH who never takes the field with a glove?  Prior to Vladimir Guerrero’s injuries, Scioscia routinely rotated players into the DH spot to more or less give them a bit of a rest for the night.  What other team in play-off contention does that?  Don’t forget, the Angels are the only team without a grandslam this season.  Who cares?  Because the Angels don’t depend on home runs to win games, for Angels fans they are icing on the cake.  Sweet, beautiful icing.

                     

And superb pitching like we saw Wednesday from Jered Weaver must be the sprinkles.  Oh, so what famous sibling do I think Weaver resembles now that he’s chopped his locks off?  London loverboy, Prince Harry.  If you’ve seen Weaver with his hat off, you know I nailed this one.

                               

Weaver’s our Prince of the Pitching Mound.  6.5 games up on Texas?  All is well in the Kingdom of Halos.

 

Baseball…the sport of kings.

 

 

XXXs and Orioles

The Angels finished up their four game series with the Orioles on Monday night.  Can I just say that ending a series on a Monday really throws me off.  All day I kept thinking it was Wednesday.  No such luck.  Oh well.  At least the Angels ended their time in Baltimore on a high note, taking 3 of 4 games. 

                                      pie.jpg picture by lafmyers

Ervin Santana had another good outing, giving up 3 runs in 6 innings.  But in a game where both teams each had 9 hits, the Angels made theirs count.  Kendry Morales had his two run shot in the 2nd and Macier Izturis had a solo HR in the 6th.  Homerun-itis then struck Vladimir Guerrero who launched his own 2 run shot in the 6th and followed that up with a 3 runner in the 7th.  Vlady is making up for lost time.  His numbers suffered from all the time he spent on the DL.  I think those whispered rumors that he’d lost his mojo for good can definitely be put to rest.  Super Vlad will not go quietly into that good night.  Yippee!

         

The Angels roll into Cleveland on Tuesday for 3 games.  The Indians have won their last two but as long as the Angels offense stays hot everything should be fine.  I’d like to see rookie Trevor Bell get his first win.  His first game was a no decision.  Torii Hunter will be back in the line-up.  He’s playing every other day for a little while since he’s fresh off the DL. 

     

There’s certainly no need to rush things as we all want him to be 100%, along with every other player.  The Angels schedule will only get tougher in the next few weeks and the Rangers aren’t showing any signs of backing down.  The same can’t be said for a few other teams.  While every team is entitled to a slump, the Red Sox meltdown couldn’t have come at a better time for the Yankees.  It’s got to be so frustrating for Sox fans to watch their team falling from grace so swiftly as the Yankees charge forward.  Not pretty.

                            

And in the National League, Dodger fans, who have been riding the hot tamale train since the season started, could be starting to squirm just a little bit.  They no longer can claim the best record in baseball and have seen the Rockies chip away at their comfortable lead.  They are now just 4.5 games ahead of the Rockies.  Even my Angels have a better record than the Dodgers but here in Southern California you’d never know it.  The local media, which originates in Los Angeles, continues to ignore the Angels for the most part.  Whatever.  We’re used to it.  In the end, it doesn’t matter.  I’ll eat a Dodger dog if I’m wrong, but I’ve got a feeling the Dodger train is about to jump the tracks.

                           

 

Baseball…It’s the only game in town.

 

 

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.

 

 

It Was Just My Imagination

And yes, it totally ran away with me.  Curses, voodoo, black magic spells?  Turns out they were only in my head.  Not only did the Angels beat the White Sox Thursday, Big Daddy Vlady had a home run as did Jeff Mathis, Bobby Abreu and Erick Aybar.  With 9 runs on 11 hits, my thoughts are decidedly less dark and foreboding than they were yesterday. 

         

I don’t regret yesterday’s post nor do I think I spoke too soon.  What I do in everyday life, because I’m a professional worrier, is to imagine the worst possible outcome in a situation.  I visualize in vivid detail the entire scenario and by doing so, am able to completely avert disaster.  Don’t laugh.  My “worry method” works. 

        

It’s what keeps my planes in the air,

 

        

my cruise ships afloat,

 

      

and water pipes from bursting and flooding my house when I’m on vacation.  And obviously, it’s what keeps my Angels from being swept by the White Sox.  Since I wanted my Angels to come home on the heels of victory to face the Rangers this weekend, I couldn’t waste any time turning things around for them.  What better way than to envision the possibility that someone had put a curse on the team that could potentially keep them out of the World Series for a hundred years?  Believe me, worrying about a White Sox sweep would not have been enough.  Go big or go home.  It worked, didn’t it?

     Jeff Mathis, Howie Kendrick

Jeff Mathis came into Thursday’s game hitting .197 and batting 9th in the order when he hit his 2 run shot in the 2nd, which only proves I’m even more powerful than I thought I was.  I’ve decided, however, to give my overactive imagination the weekend off.  While it would be very nice to completely dominate the Rangers,

                       dominatrix_2-1.jpg image by Spoookygirl

I don’t know that it’s necessary to be 7.5 games up on them by the end of the weekend.  The Angels have proven, once again this season, that adversity isn’t such a bad thing.  They’ve seen more than their share and have come roaring back and played their best ball.  This is one of the reasons I don’t get more upset with bad calls.  More often than not, when a bad call is made that robs them of an out or a run, it ends up being the tide-turner that makes all the difference in a game.  Usually…must I type AJ Pierzynski’s name yet again?  Fine, but I pick the picture. 

            ajp.jpg picture by lafmyers

Pierzynski’s equally offensive manager, Ozzie Guillen, showed his sensitive side when he emerged from the dugout in the 5th inning Thursday, to complain to umpires about the delay of game as batter Howie Kendrick and pitcher John Danks stepped out of the batter’s box and off of the mound while stadium personnel rendered help to a young fan in the stands who had been hit by Kendrick’s flying bat.  I’ll bet Pierzynski and Guillen get together after games to kick dogs and take candy from babies.

                        

Ervin Santana may not have had one of his best starts, but he sure kept his cool and got himself out of big trouble in the 3rd after he loaded the bases by walking Gordon Beckham, giving up a hit to Jim Thome and nailing Paul Konerko with a pitch.  His nerves may have gotten the better of him for a moment as he walked in a run, but he rebounded by striking out Jayson Nix (looking) who earlier hit a 3 run homer off him in the 2nd and getting Chris Getz to tap one right back to him.  The White Sox were unable to score again except for Dewayne Wise’s solo shot in the 9th off of Kevin Jepsen.  Jason Bulger delivered another 2 innings of solid relief and continues to see his ERA drop. 

                 

Bobby Abreu’s home run was his 250th of his career.  Abreu’s addition to the Angels has been tremendous not only for his stats, which earned him the title of American League Player of the Month for July, but also for his shining example of plate discipline that seems to be rubbing off on his teammates.  We are seeing the Angels burn through pitches and draw walks like never before.  No doubt the Angels’ offense is benefitting by following in Abreu’s footsteps. 

     Bobby Abreu

With his HR Thursday, Abreu became only the 6th player in MLB history to combine 250 homers with 2000 hits, 1000 runs scored, 1000 RBIs and 300 stolen bases.  Those are amazing numbers and yet another reason Angels fans are finding it so easy to forget (and forgive) that he was ever a Yankee.

                                     

And speaking of Yankees…it’s time to wrap this up so I can go read some Yankees and Red Sox blogs.  In the first of their four game series, the Yankees proved to the Red Sox that they are not the same team the Sox faced in this season’s previous match-ups.  The Yankees beat the Red Sox 13-6 and almost immediately, blogs everywhere were being updated with the usual rivalry rhetoric that never fails to entertain.  I’m ready to sit back and enjoy the fireworks that make me love to be a baseball fan.

 

Baseball…for people who share a taste for excitement. 

 

 

Big Bad Voodoo Vlady?

No one was happier than I was to see Vladimir Guerrero back in the line-up Tuesday night after his latest stint on the DL.  It wasn’t that the Angels desperately needed him back.  Their offense had been, as my grandma used to say, “cooking with gas” while he and Torii Hunter nursed their injuries.  But Vlady is an integral part of who the Angels are and we’ve all missed him.  From his twinkling, ear-to-ear grin to his indecipherable strike zone, Angel fans love the guy.

                       

Not to mention, the man cut off his hair in an effort to help his team!  I don’t know many men who would do that.  Vanity is not exclusively a woman’s vice.

                                manny-1.jpg picture by lafmyers

As much as I adore Big Daddy Vlady, I can’t help but notice the Angels have now lost two games since his return.  I’m sure it could be mere coincidence.  The Angels had been red-hot coming into this series and it was just a matter of time before they’d have to cool off a little, right?  (Did it have to be against the White Sox?!?)  Is that what’s happening?  Or, could there be more to this than coincidence?

                  

Could something else be going on?  Could other forces be at work here?  It would NOT have been a far stretch at the beginning of the season to have imagined that someone, somewhere had placed a curse on my team.  It’s not like these things don’t happen in baseball.

          babe.jpg picture by lafmyers

I know after two losses in a row, it might be a bit premature to speculate about black magic, spells or curses, but there’s no harm in being a little proactive, right?  If it turns out there IS something to this mysterious change in fortune, why not identify the usual suspects and examine their possible motives?  This could be especially helpful for the Anaheim PD, FBI, CIA or local Boy Scout Troop 312, should they be pressed into service on the matter.  (I always knew reading every Nancy Drew book twice would come in handy some day.)

Suspect #1

It doesn’t get any more obvious.  They hate us.  Someone start interrogating
the players, I’ll start on the fans.  Jane, you may want to consult with your attorney.  I believe there may be some circumstantial evidence in your blog regarding a “magic” pen?!?  Double, double toil and trouble; fire burn and cauldron bubble…does that line have any special meaning for you?

 

Suspect #2

Umpire Doug Eddings made the infamous call that lost the 2005 ALCS for the Angels.  Four years later, he is stilled booed at the Big A every single time he is announced.  Oh, and there may be a conspiracy angle involving AJ Pierzynski.  Bring plenty of back up.  That guy’s nuts.

 

Suspect #3

Jose Guillen makes no secret of his contempt for the Angels, specifically Manager Mike Scioscia, after the skipper benched him during the 2004 play-offs because of his hot temper and bad behavior.  Another loose cannon.  Have the psych ward on speed dial.

 

Suspect #4

Was a finalist in the Angels’ mascot auditions and is reportedly still bitter about losing out to a monkey.  Says he’s sick of singing to kids and was looking forward to picking up chicks at the Budweiser Pavilion during early innings.  He was recently taken into custody on a loitering charge at Coors Field in Denver where he was heard screaming, “Come on…I’m &%$#-ing purple already!”  We may need to involve Animal Control on this one.

 

Suspect #5

It was very easy to eliminate the Rangers from my list of suspects due to the fact that they also lost their last two games…to Oakland.  Clearly, they have nothing to do with this.

 

Okay, so it’s a start.  I truly hope I’m wrong about all of this.  I guess we’ll have to see what happens Thursday.  Until then, I’ll keep working on my list in my “Harriet, The Spy” notebook.  You can never be too prepared.  (Yep, I was a Girl Scout too.)  

 

Between love and madness lies…baseball. 

 

 

Down In Chi-Town

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. 

          lincolnparkzoo.jpg picture by lafmyers 

 

                                 

 

            

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.

            backitup.jpg picture by lafmyers

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!   

 

 

The Shame Game

So far this season it seems as if the Angels’ most effective motivator has been shame.  They don’t just regroup or bounce back from a narrow loss to play well.  No, they have to be absolutely smeared and humiliated by an opposing team to get their heads back on straight and then, miraculously, they embark on a really good run.  I sure hope this is the pattern.  If so, we can expect great things from the Angels in the upcoming series with the Yankees, because I don’t know what else you could call these last two games against Texas other than shameful. 

     shame.jpg picture by lafmyers

Tuesday night’s game started out innocently enough.  John Lackey was pitching great into the 5th inning.  He had 2 outs, no one on base and the Angels were winning, 2-0.  Then it completely fell apart.  (You can’t tell me the “wave” had nothing to do with it.  Stupid wave.)  The 3 run home run Lackey gave up to Andruw Jones wasn’t as disturbing as the effect it seemed to have on him.  It really messed with his head and he wasn’t able to recover.

              head.jpg picture by lafmyers

The Rangers scored 6 runs before Jason Bulger could get the last out of the inning.  The Angels combined for 11 hits, but were down 4 runs in the 9th.  Juan Rivera made a valiant effort, hitting his second HR of the night in the 9th, but it was a solo shot.  The worst moment of the game had to be when Vladimir Guerrero left the field, limping from a strained muscle behind his knee…his good knee! 

                

Why???  With my ALL-STAR Torii Hunter already out of the line-up with a thigh injury, the Angels will be lacking some serious power at the plate.  The pressure will be on Juan Rivera, Kendry Morales and Bobby Abreu to provide some long balls, although as Jeff Mathis proved Monday night, with the Angels you never know where the key hits will come from.  I think Gary Matthews, Jr. will contribute as well, but he’ll need some more at bats to get going again.  In the meantime, maybe he can just keep stealing home.

          

Wednesday night, in the final game of the series with the Rangers, Santana was anything but smooth.  Like I said, I still have my doubts as to whether he’s 100% or not.  He seemed to have the velocity, but the Rangers took total advantage of his lack of command.  Leading the charge was Andruw Jones, who enjoyed a 3 HR night.  Yes, the same Mr. Jones who warmed the Dodgers’ bench for half of last season and posted a .158 batting average for the year.  He matched his total HR number from last season in this one game…3.  Hmmm.  I don’t know what he’s eating these days, but I’ll have what he’s having.

            

Joining in the Home Run Derby preview were Marlon Byrd and Taylor Teagarden who hit his first HR of the season.  I will not be joining in the cries to send Ervin Santana back down to triple A.  Provided he is indeed completely healthy, he will need a few more starts to get his rhythm back.  I’d rather see that happen now than in September.  We’ve seen him work out of a funk and turn back into the ace starter he’s capable of being.  The same goes for Lackey.  Do the Angels have to maintain an 8-10 game lead in the west to be considered successful?  Is it fair to expect that?  Have we forgotten that the Angels were the wild card when they won the World Series in 2002? 

                          

We’ve seen what happens when they have a comfortable lead in September and start “phoning it in” until the end of the regular season.  They were not rested and ready for the play-offs last year at all.  They were disjointed and lackadaisical.  Clutching and clawing for first place may work much better for the Angels in the long run.  Taking a look at the standings, it appears there will be a whole lot of clutching and clawing going on everywhere.  And that’s what makes a great season.   

 

Baseball…something special in the air.

 

 

Rockin’ and Rollin’

I decided to head out to the Big A on Wednesday night to check up on my boys in person.  After a couple of poor showings against the Dodgers and a smackdown by the Rockies on Monday night, I thought my presence might make a difference.  (Because, again, we fans know just how powerful we are.)

                            

Upon entering the stadium, my husband and I received cute little Angels coolers, the promotional giveaway.  It’s just perfect for packing my bottled water and Crystal Light next time we head out to a game.  Cute and free.  Love it.  As we lingered just inside gate 2, waiting to talk to our favorite security person, Dina, we were approached by a guy conducting a survey about stadium advertising.  My husband was first and when he completed the survey, he received a coupon for a 12 pack of any Pepsi product.  Cool.  More free stuff.

              

I was next.  Not only did I know exactly who advertises in the stadium, I was able to tell the guy where each sign was.  He was impressed and rewarded me with a pair of tickets to the July 6th game versus the Rangers.  Super cool!  The game hadn’t even started and already we were making out like bandits.  This had to be a good omen.  It was.

                            

Just a day after cutting off all his hair in a bid to change his luck, Big Daddy Vlady went deep…finally!!  If I’d only known what a difference I could make by being there, I would’ve shown up weeks ago, believe me.  It was a great night for the Angels.  Joe Saunders gave up 4 hits in 6 innings, they scored 11 runs on 11 hits, Bobby Abreu and Juan Rivera contributed a couple of outfield assists and overall, they looked like the new and improved Angels I was hoping to see.  Oh, and Vlady’s home run?  It came in the 2nd inning.  You know what that means.  More free stuff! 

                

 

Baseball…we’re cooking now!

 

 

Rocky Road

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.

 

 

Pinch Me!

When I saw Tim Lincecum take the mound for the Giants in Wednesday’s 3rd and final game with the Angels, I must admit I was a bit intrigued.  I’d heard his name and knew he was the National League’s Cy Young Award winner last season.  But my first thought was, he looked less like John Lackey or CC Sabathia and more like a 4th Jonas Brother (with a haircut and the right pair of skinny jeans). 

                    jonasbros.jpg picture by lafmyers

I grabbed my laptop and did a quick ESPN player search.  It took me all of 6.5 seconds to read over his stats, not that they’re not interesting, he just hasn’t exactly been around for very long.  He breaks into the majors in 2007 and wins the Cy Young the next year??  By the way, he just turned 25 on Monday.  I sat there and watched him pitch the 1st inning and was very impressed with his powerful delivery.  This game would not be a walk in the AT&T Park for the Angels. 

             park.jpg picture by lafmyers

Sure enough, Lincecum was able to keep the newly explosive Angels’ bats awkwardly quiet.  But Matt Palmer was able to do the same with the Giants and at the end of 6 innings, each pitcher had given up only 4 hits.  The difference was, the Giants had managed to put together 2 runs, the Angels, only 1.  When Palmer gave up a lead-off home run in the 7th, it was time for the relievers to give the Angels a chance to make a comeback.   

                             

At the top of the 8th, my ALL-STAR Torii Hunter stepped into the batter’s box.  What?  My Torii was supposed to be recovering from Monday night’s collision with the center field wall.  He wasn’t expected to play again until Friday night and here he was pinch hitting.  I just knew he’s get a hit, and he did.  Next at bat?  Another pinch hitter, another hit!  This time it was Big Daddy Vlady Guerrero who has had to sit out much of the recent slugfests during interleague play.  Chone Figgins, Erick Aybar and Juan Rivera all came through and when the 8th was over, the Angels were up 4-3 and Lincecum was on the hook for his first loss since April 12th.  We just had to get through the 9th.  Piece of cake, right?  I don’t know.  Why don’t we ask Brian Fuentes?

                               

When Fuentes had the first batter in a 3-0 count, I had no choice but to hit “pause”.  In each of their 5 previous wins, the Angels had scored first.  That wasn’t the case in this game so they were poised for a great come-from-behind win and I just couldn’t bear to see it blown.  After 5 minutes, I hit “play” and then quickly hit “fast forward”.  If it was going to be bad, seeing it (and hearing it) in real-time would only make it more excruciating.  But this is what I saw:

            high5.jpg picture by lafmyers

Suddenly “hump” day turned into “jump (for joy)” day and I was in Halo Heaven. Once again, I grabbed the laptop and clicked on the standings.  There it was…1.5 games behind Texas.  Sure, it was only a matter of hours before it said 2 again, but those few hours were the best of my week so far.  The Angels can enjoy a well-deserved day off tomorrow before they face the Dodgers again.  I am particularly looking forward to Saturday’s match-up between the Weaver Brothers.  Seriously, how do you make an interleague freeway series just a little more interesting?

                        

                          

 

Baseball…where family comes first.