Okay, so that title could accurately describe most Angels games this season, including games we win. But, after scoring only 10 runs in the last 6 games (or the month of June so far, if you prefer), I felt it was particularly appropriate today. Mercifully, and quite improbably, the entire AL West lost on both Monday and Tuesday so this hasn’t hurt the Angels as badly as it could have, though it means we missed to stellar opportunities to gain ground on Texas and Seattle. I’m not seriously pushing the panic button yet, but Klaatu barada nikto already! Angels stop the team’s self-destruction now, while we still can without an extremely difficult slog uphill!
I spent the majority of Monday’s game against the Rays alternately begging, pleading and threatening in the direction of the TV for the Angels to just score some runs in the plural. No dice. Last night was sadly much of the same, but it was bittersweet. The loss was a blow, but any night at the ballpark, especially an unexpected one, can only be a good one. Yes, an unexpected night at the ballpark. My husband called me just before four yesterday, obviously very busy at work, and barely had time to listen to my excited “Hell, yeah!” response to his “If I told you we had the company seats tonight could you run into Pasadena and pick up the tickets?” before rushing me off the phone with an OkayThanksCallYouLater. Tease.
Except he wasn’t teasing. (Also, he wasn’t rude. We give each other leave to outright hang up on one another at work if necessary. Business is important and when it has to come first, well then, it does with no whining or hurt feelings.) Long story short – sales contest, Angels tickets reward, amazing company seats and your intrepid blogger’s mission, which she ecstatically chose to accept, was driving from Whittier to Pasadena for the tickets, to Azusa for the Angels gear and camera, to Brea to pick up the husband and then to Anaheim for the game. A journey of 75 miles, in less than 3 hours, in L.A. rush hour traffic…and we just made it inside the stadium by first pitch, whoo hoo!
The view from the seats – yes, that is home plate you see. We were ten rows back from the sign in front. Just, wow! I only wish we could have seen an amazing comeback from these seats. If I were ever so lucky as to be outrageously wealthy, I wouldn’t have a box, I would buy season tickets someplace like this – on the field, home team side, close to plate but still on the dangerous side of the net and as close to the front row as I could get.
Dan Haren on the mound, executing the brief pause in his delivery. I call it the antici…..pation delivery. This was Haren’s first time back on the mound after the back pain that delayed his originally scheduled Saturday start – because he was able to pitch in the same spin through the rotation, it counts as a delayed start, not a missed start, so his personal record remains intact. He was really working for each pitch in the first four innings and my initial thought was that he started back too soon. But he worked back into a strong rhythm after that and looked as good as ever by the 5th. I guess the guy really did just need to get out there and pitch. My hat’s off to you Dan. Even with the rough patch, you pitched well enough to win.
Bobby Abreu in left field. Because he is Mike Scioscia and this is what he does, but more so lately because of the team’s miniscule RISP, there have been quite a few lineup shakeups the last few weeks. Sorry Bobby, but last night’s lineup resulted in one of my least favorite outfield configurations – Bobby in left, Vernon Wells in center and Torii Hunter in right. We have absolutely zero speed on the left side of the outfield with this configuration and less speed than ideal in the center and on the right. Also, Wells is much better these days in the smaller area of left field and he just plain doesn’t play our center field wall well. The end result was a triple to left that should have been a double and a double to center that should have been an out, among other issues.
Mark Trumbo and runner Casey Kotchman (At least, I’m 90% certain it’s Kotchman based on the order of the photos. Let me know if I am wrong) move with the pitch. This was partially just me playing with the camera from our close to the field vantage, but I like the photo. Mark Trumbo has been a bright spot in terms of hitting for power and continuing to produce during the team’s at the plate slump. It was a shame that his leadoff double turned triple by an error in the 7th was wasted.
Hank Conger maneuvers behind the plate. This is partially another Kristen was playing with camera again (see the ball), and partially a Kristen really loves catchers photo. I can’t help it, most of my favorite players are catchers (or centerfielders…or short stops…or more or less anyone in an Angels uniform 😉 ). What can I say? I admire the guy who calls the shots on the play, holds the pitcher together when things are getting rough, and faces down major league freight trains bearing down on him several times a game, while he blocks the plate like a badass. Catchers rock! And I think Conger is shaping up to be a very, very good one.
Joe Maddon says, oh and one other thing during an argument with the umpires. I still haven’t watched the replay myself, wherein it sounds like Johnny Damon was in fact out at the plate, as it appeared from my vantage pretty much right there, but it was a really close play. Great throw from Torii to the plate and great execution by catcher Hank Conger either way. And wow, Damon really is playing like his younger self again on the Rays.
Howie Kendrick at the plate with Bobby Abreu on deck. Howie, less than a week off the DL, had a strong ground rules double hit this evening and Bobby continued his streak at the plate, going 2 for 4, both of which were bright spots.
Torii warms up before his final at bat. I really hate it when Torii strikes out and especially in the last inning, because you can see in his face how much not coming through bothers him. But he went 2 for 4 this game so maybe things are falling back into place for him.
Erick Aybar looking sheepish – as well he should after those plays at short. This photo montage wasn’t meant to be a litany of the Angels ills last night, but it’s hard to be a complete Pollyanna. Aybar is one of my favorite short stops most of the time. But every few games he starts making errors and missing plays such that it boggles the mind to think it’s still the same guy at short. This was one of those games, though he did help out with a hit to open the first inning and his outs at the plate came early enough in each inning that he was not one of the game’s rally killers.
Kevin Jepsen takes the mound. Jepsen had a refreshing outing for the last one and one/third innings – one hit, one intentional walk (I hate this play, and question it almost every time even though I know it is well accepted strategy.) and one very well timed and important strike out. When Jep pitches like this, I love to see him on the mound. Even though he is no longer number 65, he’s started walking out to Rob Zombie’s Thunderkiss ’65 again which is always a fun one to hear, especially if it helps Jep bring back the swagger of some of his better outings in years past.
And that was my impromptu evening at the ballpark. Yay for the ballpark. Sob for the loss. Hopefully the Angels bring their clutch bats to the final game because I am about to leave for the game…with more planned tickets this time.
Friday, in an interview with the L.A. Times, Angels Owner Arte Moreno stated that the Angles had made a quote, unquote significant offer to Adrian Beltre. In the article (linked above) the Times speculates that the offer was in the vicinity of 5 years and $70 million and was likely to be the Angels final offer. This was such an uncharacteristic statement from anyone in the Angels notoriously tight lipped front office, let alone from Moreno, that I’ve been waiting with interest to see what if anything came of this announcement over the weekend. When I read between the lines – always a dangerous and unscientific pastime but, seriously, who can resist? – I think Moreno is saying the Angels don’t expect to be able to land Beltre but, he’s aware that a vocal percentage of the fanbase perceives the front office as being overly passive and bungling the deal with Carl Crawford and he wants to avoid incurring that same perception with Beltre.
Sure enough, today there is talk that Beltre rejected that supposedly final Angles offer and that’s likely to be the end of that…of course talk is just talk until contracts are actually signed and a lot of the talk this hot stove season has been dead wrong. Carl Crawford? Cliff Lee? Need I say more? But in this case the predictions and rumors interest me far less than the fact that Moreno said anything at all in the middle of the negotiations. I think that fans’ anger and frustration is getting to him and, I would imagine, to the rest of the front office as well, especially in light of the money is no object promises for change Moreno made at the end of last season. Well, good…maybe…depending on the front office’s response. Frustrated action good. Frustrated kneejerk reaction, bad.
Note that I speak of the fans’ anger and frustration in the third person. Me? I’m not thrilled with the way the offseason has gone so far but I’m also not crying gloom and doom just yet, apart from a few shocked sarcastic comments as each new development broke, of course. Kendry coming back to all reports as good as new is a big deal and already an improvement over last year. His is an impressive bat and often shields and inspires other bats in the lineup. The deals the Angels have made this off season have strengthened the Bullpen which was a major issue last year. Do I want more? Of course? Would I feel better about next season if we had an additional big bat or two or a new younger guy in left field? Very much so. Would I feel better if we could resolve the strange platoon of partial skill sets at third base? Double hell yeah on that one. But if Beltre is out of the picture, who is left who would be a good fit? And if the answer is no one just yet, I’m far from ready to give up on the whole 2011 season in December 2010, thank you very much. Which brings me to the rest of the weirdness seemingly swirling around the Big A…
There is a lot of new discussion about the Angles going after Scott Podsednik or Johnny Damon if they can’t land Adrian Beltre. More typically, none of it is from the front office this time, so who knows how true any of it is. But I don’t like the idea of either player for us really. Nothing against either one, but we already have two left fielders in their 30’s with good gloves but slowing feet and diminishing range, and Abreu can also bat leadoff and/or be the DH. I would like the Angels to use Juan Rivera a lot less but it doesn’t seem like either Podsednik or Damon would be that much of an improvement. True, we do need a DH now, but I prefer the idea of looking for some more speed in left field (and on the base paths) and moving Bobby into the DH role rather than platooning or replacing him with someone with basically the same pros and cons. Who is the answer? Darned if I know. Luckily, I only have to comment on the outcome of the decisions. I don’t actually have to make them.