The Angels are 3 games into that season-requirement 7 game winning streak I've previously mentioned. I missed most of tonight's game, but caught the ninth, pretty much the only inning of consequence, as the Angels scored 2 runs, with the gamewinning RBI coming on a Howie Kendrick groundout to shortstop with the bases loaded. That groundout followed a rare sight: An intentional walk to Maicer Izturis.
The Halos were mostly unable to produce any semblance of offense against Tigers starter Justin Verlander. But Verlander was matched by Santana, with Ervin throwing substantially fewer pitches and going 8.2 innings. His fastball is still not there, and I'm growing leery of continuing to trot out a power pitcher who's lost his power. But tonight, he had a good slider and managed to escape every inning unscathed until the ninth, where he allowed a run on an Ordonez single and was relieved by Brian Fuentes.
Fuentes threw 3 pitches to get his 15th save, with the third pitch resulting in a foulout which Chone Figgins managed to catch over the outstretched gloves of several Tigers fans. Memo to Tigers fans: You've gotta make that catch.
A good win, after which Jose Mota interviewed Santana on the field. When asked about his nosebleed, Ervin replied something along the lines of, "Yeah, it started in the bullpen, but I just said, you know, fuck it, let's pitch." On live TV. I love it.
Lakers 100, Orlando 75
I'm not as high on this game as many Lakers fans, mostly because Orlando's 29% shooting is unsustainable. That said, encouraging signs:
- Andrew Bynum matching Dwight Howard when on the floor, both offensively and defensively, if not outplaying him.
- Kobe Bryant having a mediocre shooting night, but still picking up 40 points and 8 rebounds, 8 assists, and only a single turnover.
- Stan van Gundy illustrating why he's earned the title of Panicky Stan, or Master of Panic, or Stan van Panic, etc.
- Josh Powell hitting a step-back three. I swear, the kid's underrated.
- DJ Mbenga. Sure, he had two passes bounce off his hands, but the man speaks like 9 languages. He's a scholar, god dammit.
If the Lakers play with the same level of intensity in game 2, they walk away with a 2-0 lead. I'm still not happy with their perimeter defense and their unwillingness to drive at Howard, but they're largely unbeatable when they play to their potential.
Finally, for the record, the 2-3-2 format is so unbelievably dumb that I'm shocked the NHL hasn't tried it. A road team can win only their home games and still have two elimination games. A home team winning only its home games gets one. That's nonsensical.