The Angels have had a strange week. Their series with New York was predictable, but only with regards to the record with which they left. I expected them to go 2-2, and they indeed went 1-2 with rain postponing my guessed second win. What was weird was that they a.) won Matt Palmer's start against CC Sabathia, and b.) managed to lose a game they should've won by blowing a 5-run lead with 6 outs to go.
The bullpen is clearly still an issue, but I think it's steadily improving as Arredondo, Shields, and Fuentes all relearn how to pitch. The biggest issue, in my mind, has been bullpen management, but a solid Arredondo-Shields-Fuentes back end helps reduce the number of games Scioscia can manage to screw up by putting in relievers like Rafael Rodriguez and Jason Bulger.
By the way, Matt Palmer has an obscene amount of movement, at least from my observation. Since Kalk's Pitchf/x tool doesn't include Palmer at the moment, I really can't provide a better analysis other than "everything he throws starts here and ends somewhere way different." His fastball reminds me of Scot Shields' two-seamer, in that it's pretty clear he doesn't know where it's going because it tails and drops so much. A neat guy to watch, although someone who's been in the minors until his age 30 season is probably not going to continue winning pitching duels with Sabathia.
I caught the last few innings of the Angels/Oakland game last night, and was overall pretty impressed with Joe Saunders and Jose Arredondo. Jose struck out all four batters he faced before giving way to Fuentes, who earned the three-run save without allowing a baserunner. Division wins are very important, and I'll feel more confident about this team if they can play .500 ball against the other divisions and .600 ball within the West, which isn't an unreasonable proposition.
Lakers 92, Houston 100
Nobody expected a 4-game sweep, but watching this team last night was aggravating. When the Lakers refuse to try and score easy points, they end up taking three pointers the second they encounter adversity. So they did. And they shot 2-18 from beyond the arc. Whoops.
Lamar Odom missed 5 of his 6 free throws. Kobe missed 2 of his 5. Add up those points and the game might've been 100-99. Free throws are easy, and they matter. The fact that Ray Allen is like the only NBA player who can consistently shoot over 95% on free throws should be embarrassing to the other players, but I guess Odom is too cool to use the glass.
I'm still not particularly worried about this series. I don't think Pau Gasol is going to go 6-14 from the field again, and I don't think Fisher and Ariza are likely to go 0-4 on three pointers again. This was a game the Rockets had to win if they had any chance of winning this series, and they did. But nothing leads me to believe we'll be seeing Yao Ming knock down deep jumpshots like he did last night.
Also, free Jordan Farmar. Fisher can't defend me, much less Aaron Brooks. Farmar, at least, hit a three and harassed Brooks.
Find the headline below which is an embarrassment to Yahoo Sports and the sports world in general:
Next week's headlines:
- CC Sabathia pitches 8 strong, A-Rod doesn't eat sunflower seeds in dugout
- Housing crisis continues, A-Rod doesn't wear tux to wedding
- Yankees beat Baltimore, A-Rod sneeze startles Teixeira
- A-Rod goes 4-4, doesn't have swine flu