Monday, July 21, 2008

Brooms, please

It's not often an LA sports fan gets to write happy things after a series with a Boston team, so I'm enjoying this.

The Halos just finished a three game sweep of the defending "world" champion Boson Red Sox. In all three games, the Halos simply outplayed Boston, using interesting combination of pitching and offense to get it done.

Friday night's game was one I missed thanks to that new Batman movie, but apparently Clay Buchholz had nothing. The Boston bullpen had nothing either, and John Lackey finally learned to beat the Red Sox in an 11-3 laugher. The game was actually close until the fifth, when the Angels put four runs on the board to extend a slim one run lead into a five run mountain. The Boston implosion continued as the Angels managed to score three runs in the next inning, putting the game permanently out of reach but denying Frankie a chance at another save.

Saturday had some starter-swapping, with Joe Saunders replacing Jon "Stiff Neck" Garland. I'm convinced Joe is one bad start away from mediocrity, since he lacks the talent to continue to post such gaudy ERA and wins totals. Nevertheless, he made it through 6.2 innings while giving up only 2 runs to an offense which routinely puts up crooked numbers. Josh Beckett was looking more like the Beckett of October then his standard 2008 self until Vlad absolutely crushed a homer to left. Of course, I missed this, along with Erick Aybar's subsequent pinch-hit 3-RBI triple because I was buying beer. This is the third time I've left a game where the Angels are losing to buy beer and returned with them winning. My liver's gonna take a beating, but the Angels will win the Series.

Anyways, Shields and K-Rod worked scoreless eighth and ninth innings for a 4-2 Halos win which seemed damn near impossible at the start of the seventh. This bumped Frankie's save total to an otherworldly 39, a number which most closers don't achieve in a whole season.

The Angels came into Sunday's game with an opportunity to win the season series against Boston for the first time since 2001 with a win. Considering that, I figured there was no way they pulled out another victory. Wakefield was pitching well, outside back-to-back homers by Vlad and Torii in the second. For some reason, batters like Jeff Mathis are utterly confused by a 72 mph "fastball," so they are, somehow, late on a pitch of that caliber. Nevertheless, the Angels fell behind 3-2 on a Vlad error in right, the first misplay I've noticed from him this season. Interestingly, while his offensive numbers haven't been particularly stellar, his defense seems much-improved.

Things looked pretty bleak coming into the eighth, but Juan Rivera doubled to left before Kendrick doubled in pinch runner Reg-gie! Willits. With the game now tied, Francona stupidly went to Manny Delcarmen, who promptly allowed a sac bunt from Mathis and a walk to Figgins before giving Casey Kotchman a nice pitch to double down the first base line. Kendrick scored on the play, and Figgins came around once lawn gnome Dustin Pedroia misplayed the relay from right. The Angel bullpen closed out the 5-3 victory, with Frankie notching his 40th(!) save.

A couple bullets about the series:

  • First, I think the Sox overestimate what David Ortiz brings to their lineup. JD Drew has been hitting far better than Ortiz, and more importantly, they weren't winning on the road even with the fat slugger in the lineup. Barring any late season catastrophes from the Rays or Yankees, the Sox won't win the AL East without learning how to win away from Yawkey Way.
  • Jacoby Ellsbury is playing to the level I said he would last year. He's just not that good. Sorry.
  • There's lots of talk about the "statement series," and although Scioscia and Co. won't admit it, it was. That said, a statement series in July is not a statement series in October. The Halos need to focus on keeping the best record in the AL so they can have the seriously underrated home field advantage in the playoffs, particularly if they have to face ".400 on the road" Boston.
  • Dan Shaughnessy...still a jackass. Humorously, even people in Boston think he's a moron.
  • Tony Massarotti writes for the Spygate-disgraced Herald, but apparently, someone in the Red Sox clubhouse had this much to say about the Halos: “They’re the best team we’ve faced all year.”


Believe it or not, other sporting events exist outside baseball. A huge congratualations to Amanda for winning the USTA 10K Sugar Creek Experience by a final score of 6-2, 6-3. As Jordan once claimed, some might call this an "upset," but anyone who's watched her play knows no Amanda win is an upset.

Husky Hockey

Tyler McNeely is an inspirational badass. As seen in this video, #94 takes on a guy way bigger than him at a Blackhawks prospects camp. It's good to see him with some teeth, as McCauley might be in serious danger of losing ice time to other players who, like, do stuff aside from acquire PIM.

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