Thursday, May 14, 2009

Some good news, for once

Angels 8, Boston 4

Wins over the Red Sox, at this point in the season, are little more than happy circumstance. Since all that really matters these days is divisional play, it’s hard to worry too much about inter-divisional losses, regardless of how infuriating those particular losses might be.

With that said, that was a thoroughly entertaining baseball game. It looked like Matt Palmer was about to remember he’s 30 and pitching every start in the majors for the first time in his life. He had given up four runs in two innings and allowed Jason Bay to single in the third. Then he retired 19 straight batters and earned his first complete game win while pushing his undefeated record to 4-0. Against the Red Sox.

Offense against a knuckleballer is inconsistent, at best. Wakefield, who has been so strong this season, was having a hard time throwing the knuckler for strikes, and I think he got banged around when he’d have to throw his “fastball” or curve for strikes. I’ll take a look at the PitchF/X data when I get a few minutes. The third inning was good to the Angels, with the five first Angels getting on base safely, and all five of them scoring. Mike Napoli’s 3-run shot to center might be cementing his reputation as a Boston-killer, and that’s certainly something I’m okay with.

Palmer was left in, throwing 109 total pitches, which is something Scioscia probably wouldn’t have allowed had Palmer already owned a complete game. It also shows his immense distrust of the bullpen, a distrust seeping to the batters, starters, and fans.

The Angels play Boston once more today at 12:35 Pacific. The season series is currently led by the Halos, 3-2. Pitching tonight for the Angels? Ervin “Magic” Santana. Gird your loins.

Lakers 117, Houston 87

Sure, they won by 40 points, but I’m going to ignore the positives of this game and focus on a glaring issue that pretty much everyone else has ignored. Yes, I realize it’s dumb to criticize a team that won a game by 40 points, but 1.) the Rockets are so shorthanded it’s almost mean to play them, and 2.) if the Rockets had hit their shots, we’d be talking about a much smaller margin of victory.

Perimeter defense. I don’t know what it is, but something about the Lakers defense must give guys like Brent Barry and Wally Sczerbiak wet dreams. It must be zone defense, because with about 15 seconds of ball movement, there is always someone open in a corner or at the top of the arc, waiting for the ball. It’s particularly aggravating when a big man is out at the perimeter playing defense against a tiny guard. It’s nonsense. As far as I’m concerned, zone defense is an admission that you can’t guard the other team man to man, and I don’t think it’s a scheme these Lakers are particularly good at running. LA has premier defenders in Bryant, Ariza, and Farmar. Use them.

In game 4, Houston shot 10-29 from beyond the arc. Game 5, they go 5-29, which is pretty much how that whole game went for them. Shooting an even 30%, though, you’d expect them to make another 3 or 4, which isn’t much for a team that loses by 40, but maybe it keeps the Lakers off balance. You can’t let the other team get an open look from three land every possession. The only difference in the two games from the 3FG perspective was that Houston made them in game 4 and missed them in game 5. They still got the same number of wide open looks.

They play again tonight in Houston at 6:30 Pacific.


Sports terms and phrases which need to be retired:
  • “trey” as a reference to a three-point shot
  • “he gone” when referencing a strikeout
  • “Red Sox/Longhorn/Husky/sports team Nation”
  • “saucer pass” in reference to anything that clearly isn’t a saucer pass
  • “best shape of my/his life” when said by or spoken of an athlete
  • “WNBA”
  • “that’s a baseball/hockey/football play”
  • “hitting his spots” when referring to a pitcher exhibiting good control

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