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Monday, September 20, 2004

Angels 5, Mariners 2

Never find your delight in another's misfortune.
-- Pubilius Syrus, Maxim 459
Bottom 1st: M's starter Ryan Franklin plunked Vlad in the head (cue tweeting birds). Mikey promptly got himself ejected.

Bottom 2nd: D-Mac got his first major league hit, a double, and the only extra-base hit of the evening for either side. (No, this game doesn't prove the offense has picked up, any more than Friday's did.) Kennedy sac flied him home. Anaheim 1, Seattle 0.

Top 3rd: Lackey retaliated (?) for Vlad's plunking by plunking Randy Winn. The umpires issued a warning -- again -- but nobody got ejected. (Bonus points for anyone who can explain why the current hit-by-pitch rule is either (a) working or (b) a good idea.) Uncharacteristically, Lackey got out of a two-out, two-on jam by striking out Bret Boone.

Bottom 3rd: Eckstein and Vlad-replacement Curtis Pride both got infield singles. GA then grounded out, advancing both runners. Guillen scored a run on yet another infield single. Erstad grounded out, scoring yet another run. Benjie Molina grounded out for the third out. This illustrates the weakness of "pitch-to-contact" when you have less-than-stellar defense. Anaheim 3, Seattle 0.

Top 4th: McPherson, playing back, had no chance at Jeremy Reed's bunt single, but he redeemed himself by getting a grounder for the final out of the inning.

Top 5th: Ichiro singles and AK went down retrieving it for an infield hit. He then stole second, and scored when Raul Ibañez singled and Bret Boone got yet another infield single to drive him home. Another run would score with Cabrera's infield single, but Jeremy Reed flied out to end the inning. Anaheim 3, Seattle 2.

Bottom 5th: Erstad and Molina would both single, and D-Mac drove in a run, his first RBI in the bigs. Molina, temporarily believing himself capable of running, gets thrown out at third by about ten steps. Anaheim 4, Seattle 2.

Bottom 6th: New pitcher Matt Thornton walked Chone Figgins on four straight pitches. Bench coach Joe Maddon, who apparently had been asleep during the previous five and a half innings, then instructed the Human Walk Machine to bunt. He did so, but none of Eckstein (flyout), Pride (infield single), or Anderson (inning-ending strikeout) could send him home. The wasted out cost a run; anyone wondering why Mike sac bunts/runs on contact/etc. too often might observe that the flaw is organizational.

Top 8th: K-Rod didn't -- didn't strike out Jeremy Reed, that is, walking him instead on a 3-2 count. With Miguel Olivo batting, the Angels get hit with what has got to be the worst call of the year, in which 2B umpire Chris Guccione allows himself to be talked into recanting his original -- and correct -- call of out at second base; Dallas McPherson's slightly off-line throw pulled replacement 2B Amezega off line, but only after he'd made the play at second. With Frankie exhibiting his worst stuff in recent games, it looked all but certain the bullpen was about to undergo another collapse. Except -- not. Frankie pulled his chestnuts out of the fire, getting two groundouts and a strikeout to end the inning. It's even possible to suggest that the added pressure on Frankie from the bases loaded situation actually straightened him out.

Bottom 8th: New pitcher Matt Williams walked the leadoff batter, D-Mac, and Chone Figgins, both on five pitches. The M's then pull him in favor of ex-Angel Shigetoshi Hasegawa. Jeffy flies out, and then Eckstein hits a groundball to short. D-Mac makes a baserunning error by attempting to run home -- or is this the less-than-wise counsel of the Angels organization telling him to run on contact again? McPherson is out at home on the fielder's choice, Figgins safe at third. Then, Eckstein steals second safely, the play falters at second, and Figgins alertly steals home. Pride strikes out swinging. Angels 5, Mariners 2.

And that was the night, such at it was. The Angels blew multiple opportunities to increase their scoring, pitched badly at times (but came back when they needed to), were helped by good luck, but also suffered from bad luck and terrible umpiring. They failed to get the ball out of the infield except for the rookie McPherson's double. McPherson's performance tonight was just spectacular, and he earned his "player of the game" designation, though you can definitely see his infield defense needs some work; he offered at least one bouncer in the dirt to Erstad, who neatly recovered it. It's easy to get a little too excited about a rookie player; look at Kotchman for the example. But. Keeping fingers crossed.

Vlad is okay, say the broadcasters. But AK might not be, and as Richard surmises, his likely replacement is Chone Figgins, meaning more starts for Dallas. Hopefully he can keep up this kind of performance.



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