While the summer may be winding down, the race to the play-offs is definitely heating up. It’s been over a week since I’ve had a chance to praise/criticize/brag about/plead with my Angels but I’ve not missed a minute of all the action.
The Angels started off their road trip on a high note last Monday as they shut out the Mariners and scored 10 runs. Thankfully, my week got very busy after that. Step-son-in-law’s birthday, a couple of days with my niece before she headed back to school, got a tattoo, family BBQ, work…having lots going on definitely helped to ease the sting of the Angels’ second and third games in Seattle. I was unable to watch those games live and was more than happy to fast-forward through them, then quickly delete them from the DVR.
Tuesday was awful. The Angels’ loss to the Mariners, combined with the Rangers winning both games of their double-header, had the Angels losing 1.5 games in the standings in a single day. And Wednesday wasn’t any better as Scott Kazmir’s great Angels’ debut was squandered when his teammates provided absolutely ZERO run support. Not exactly a warm welcome.
Luckily, things improved when the Angels got to Kansas City. They managed to win the first game on only 3 hits and took the second game in extra innings. By Sunday, my boys were looking much better, hitting and dazzling us with 4 perfectly synchronized double-plays.
Monday, Monday…can’t trust that day. I was ready for the sweep. Me, the couch and the remote for live, uninterrupted viewing of the game…on a paid day off! What’s better than that? Oh wait…I know this one…A WIN?!?! No such luck. Instead it was 3 errors and 12 left on base.
The Angels are headed home and will face the Mariners again. Their schedule for these final 26 games of the regular season is tough. Yankees, Red Sox, White Sox…all critical games. The Angels have not played their best ball against the teams in their own division and they have 7 more games with the Rangers, who I’m sure will be hoping to make their move and surge ahead in the final two weeks. We’re getting quality starts and seeing fantastic defense. It’s time for the Angels’ bats to heat up again and make it happen. Fasten your seatbelts, baseball fans. It’s going to be a bumpy ride!
Baseball…catch the wave! (But don’t DO the wave…it’s a rally killer!!!!!)
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 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,
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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:
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.
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.
One thing I love about the Angels is, when one of their batters is walked intentionally, they almost always make the opposing team:
That’s exactly what happened tonight when the White Sox’s Gavin Floyd walked Kendry Morales to pitch to Juan Rivera. Juan was more than happy to double in a run and help give Jered Weaver a much deserved win. Weaver gave up only 4 hits in 8 full innings and Brian Fuentes gave up one hit in the 9th before shutting the Sox down. Fuentes is tied with Papelbon for most saves in the AL and I am pleased to report he and I are very much in “like” now. We’re getting there.
Bobby Abreu had a 2 RBI double in the 6th. In fact, all 3 of the Angels’ runs came in the 6th. They won and I’m thrilled (especially since the Yankees did us a favor by beating the Rangers again), but that doesn’t change what I was thinking during the 5th inning. The Angels have the day off tomorrow. Should they go to the beach?
Maybe hit the mall?
Should they go see the new Star Trek movie?
Ummmm…no, no and heck NO!!!! What should they be doing ALL day (and night…that’s what they’ve got lights in the stadium for)????
Batting practice. Lots and lots of batting practice.
It certainly couldn’t hurt. We’ve seen the bullpen get their act together (Monday night doesn’t count and we should swear right now to never speak of that game again. Pinky swear, now!) but the Angels offense has been pulling up short lately. If anything, they owe a day of BP to the starters who have pitched some fantastic games but ultimately weren’t rewarded with a W due solely to the lack of run support. When the Angels combine their usual great hitting with their superior pitching and great running game, they’re absolutely…
Baseball…once you pop, you just can’t stop.
My kind of town, Chicago is NOT my kind of town. Or to paraphrase a Dixie Chick, I’m embarrassed to be from Chicago. At least today I am. I don’t like the White Sox and I don’t like what they did to my Angels. They never bothered me much until Ozzie Guillen became their manager. He’s obnoxious. Then there was that whole AJ Pierzynski incident in the ALDS a few years back. Pierzynski. He’s even more obnoxious than his manager. He’s such a little weasel.
The Angels looked good on Sunday against the Dodgers. I knew the Rangers would finally have a little competition as they hosted the Yankees for 3, so if the Angels came back to the Big A and played well against the White Sox, they could close that 3 game gap in the west. With Ervin Santana on the mound and Big Daddy Vlady back in the line-up Monday night, I was feeling pretty confident. I didn’t panic when the White Sox scored 3 in the 1st. When the Angels came up in the 1st, they put their own 3 runs on the board. Or I should say, their ONLY 3 runs on the board. After that, the Angels pitchers hosted batting practice for the Sox and not only did the Angels lose, they were:
With a disturbing final score of 3-17, it was a game I’m already trying to erase from my memory. Angels pitchers gave up 24 hits while the Angels offense had a measly 4, with Vlady going 0 for 4. I can’t think of anything that went right for the Angels. At least they didn’t make any errors? White Sox fans had their little chuckle. Tonight (Tuesday) would be different. Well, slightly. It wasn’t as embarrassing a loss, but it was a loss. And what a shame, considering Joe Saunders had a pretty decent outing. But it was the offense that struggled. The Angels only 2 runs came on solo shots by my Torii Hunter and Bobby Abreu…his 1st (hopefully of many) of the season. Right now, the Rangers are leading the Yankees in the 9th so instead of closing that gap, it could be widened to 4 games. Jered Weaver will start tomorrow and I hope the Angels can re-group. A sweep by Chicago would just make me sick!
Speaking of Chicago, today is my Cubbie-loving grandfather’s 95th birthday! When I called to wish him a happy birthday, the first thing he said was, “How are your Angels doing?” He then proceeded to tell me everything that’s wrong with the Cubs. At 95, he’s sharp as a tack but even sharper when it comes to baseball. I remember as a child in Chicago, my Poppy leaving the dinner table and heading to the TV room to watch the Cubs game. I didn’t discover my love (obsession) for baseball until after moving to Southern California, but I did take him to an Angels/Cubs game when he came to visit in ’03. In October of ’07, his Cubs made the play-offs and I got an idea. I first called my sister who works for United Airlines, and asked if she could help me with flights if I somehow managed to get tickets for game 3 of the Cubs vs. D-Backs division series at Wrigley. I’m not giving my secret away, but I did indeed score 2 tickets. I flew to O’Hare on Friday night and Grandpa picked me up curbside. (Oh, by the way…he just passed his driving test again!) The next afternoon, when we walked through the tunnel, I found myself getting all misty-eyed.
I’d never been to Wrigley Field before, and here I was with my Poppy. (Oh, and it didn’t hurt that we had better seats than Jesse Jackson!) The Cubs lost the game, the D-Backs swept the series and I was on a flight back to OC the next morning, but it was a once in a life-time for me. Please, for the love of God, can the Cubs get to the World Series again while Grandpa’s still around???
And speaking of birthdays…my Grandpa has teased me since I was little kid that I’m one day older than he is because his birthday is the 26th and mine was the 25th. I can only hope to be tearing it up at 95 like my Grandpa is. How old am I? A lady never tells her age. But I’ll give you a hint. (Maybe you’ll catch it…maybe not.)
Baseball…love it for life.
If only the Braves’ Tim Hudson had thrown Sunday’s fateful pitch at Bobby Abreu’s head. Then I would’ve had to point out THIS:
Or what if it had been the Braves’ Derek Lowe? I would’ve had to shown you THIS:
The Mariners’ Miguel Batista? THIS:
Or, and I know he’s NOT a pitcher but, what IF it had been Giambi? I would’ve had no choice but to point out THIS resemblance:
(Mom, if you’re reading this, I have NO idea who the guy on the right is. Really.)
And finally (I swear, but I could totally do this all day long), what if the White Sox’s Bartolo Colon had been on the mound?
Now, let me be perfectly clear. I am NOT calling Bartolo an ogre. I don’t think he acts like an ogre, possesses any ogre-like qualities or has ever been charged with any ogre-ish offenses. And for the record, the only professional athlete I have EVER called a murderer was a former football player named OJ.
Moving on to today’s Angel/Mariners game…I missed it!! Didn’t see it on TV, didn’t even hear a minute of it on the radio. Who scheduled a Tuesday game at 3:30 PM?!? They didn’t play on the east coast! They were in our same Pacific time zone! How I didn’t catch this on the schedule, I’ll never know. I was at work and then ran over to see my friend’s son play in his Little League game. I was driving home, anticipating the game, when I turned on the radio for the pregame show and realized it was already over. I know the outcome (Angels lost in the 10th) but I’m still taping the re-play at 1:00 AM. When I say I don’t miss a game, I mean it.
Baseball…it’s everywhere you want to be.