Monday, July 14, 2008


Angels 4, A's 3

Sometimes the "aggressive baserunning" mantra which the Angels instill in their players at every level of the organization is maddening. So many times, I've watched ill-advised hit and runs turn into strike 'em out-throw 'em out double plays, watched Vlad get thrown out easily at third trying to stretch a double, watched Figgins head home on the ridiculous contact play and get caught in a rundown with less than 2 out.

Sometimes there are days like today.

First, the pitching. Justin Dichscherer is an above average reliever who's having an insane amount of luck this year in the starting rotation. Dustin Moseley, starting today in place of now-father Joe Saunders (congrats, Joe!), is a AAAA pitcher who leans more towards the minors than the majors. My comment after the Angels were easily dispatched in the first:

"A 10 pitch inning. Shocking."

My comment after Moseley gave up two runs in the bottom of the first of what was sure to be a slaughter:

"Losing by two in the first inning with Moseley pitching? Shocking."

Then, Dustin turned around and shocked everyone by retiring 14 of the next 15 batters. Meanwhile, the Angel lineup was formidable as always, scraping out a single run on a Kendrick groundout in the fourth. Scioscia inexplicably pulled Moseley with one out in the sixth and brought in Darren Oliver to face lefty Jack Cust. Memo to Mike: Oliver is not a LOOGY. His BAA is 200 points lower vs. righties than lefties. Stop bringing him in to face lefties. Cust, predictably, knocked a homer deep to center for a 3-1 A's lead.

Casey Kotchman, who earlier in the HH game thread I had remarked upon as being "bad lately," crushed a Duchscherer pitch to right to bring the score to 3-2 with 2 outs in the eighth. After a GA single, Bob Geren brought in Brad Ziegler to pitch to Vlad. 1 pitch, 1 strike, 1 out, and the Angels looked done.

Then Huston Street entered in the top of the ninth. He gave up a crappy infield single to Torii Hunter and a full count single to center from the prodigious Juan Rivera, with Torii reaching third on the play. Street then proceeded to get owned by the brilliance of Mike Scioscia.

Sosh replaced Juan with Reggie Willits at first. Howie Kendrick hit a sac fly to even the score at 3-3, but Reggie had to stay put at first. In extremely NL-esque style, Budde bunted Willits over to second for the second out of the inning. This is where it gets weird. Erick Aybar bounces a groundball off the plate towards short. Meanwhile, Reggie breaks for third. It's a close play at first, but Erick is safe and Reggie is...rounding third and heading for home?! A's first baseman Daric Barton, not known for his fantastic defense, double clutches the throw home, giving Reggie enough time to slide in safely as the ball rolls away from A's catcher Kurt Suzuki. The Angels take a 4-3 lead.


Anyways, bottom of the ninth, K-Rod's up to his usual shenanigans, loading the bases with 1 out before striking out two batters to earn his 38th (!) save and get the Angels their 57th win before the break, a franchise record and a winning percentage that puts them atop MLB.

As far as the aggressive baserunning leading to the win, I think a number of factors came into play:

  1. Scioscia pinch runs Reggie for Rivera.
  2. Scioscia has Ryan Budde sac bunt with 1 out to advance Reggie to second.
  3. Erick Aybar is fast enough to beat the throw for an infield single.
  4. Reggie/Dino Ebel decide to test Barton.
  5. Kurt Suzuki is looking down the line instead of at first base where the ball is in Barton's hands.
  6. Barton double clutches because Suzuki isn't paying attention.
  7. Reggie is fast enough to go second--> home on an infield single.
Just bravo, Mike. That was the coolest way to get a game winning RBI I've ever seen. The other players were also clearly thrilled, coming out of the dugout to greet Willits as he walked from home plate.


Amanda, unfortunately, lost 6-2, 6-0 in the Mecco Cup finals today. That said, she lost to an extremely good player and gave an excellent speech, so I'm certainly not going to complain. Thanks to the NCAA, which clearly doesn't actually give a shit about student athletes, she doesn't get to keep her prize money, but her expenses do get paid off. Memo to the USTA: She deserves to get into the US Open.

She's yet to face her most formidable opponents.

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