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Saturday, September 25, 2004

Two Games

A's 6, Angels 3

Well, D-Mac's making the Angels look mighty dumb for not calling him up earlier.

Other than that: The Angels struck out eight times against Rich Harden and Octavio Dotel. McPherson wasn't among those K's.

The more I watch Vlad, the less impressed I am with him. It's moments like these that he starts acting the big, dumb Dominican slugger who doesn't have an ounce of plate discipline and never saw a walk he liked. In fact, he hasn't walked in seven consecutive games! And that's not to mention his all-too-frequently sloppy fielding. Sometimes, you overpay for counting stats. The home runs you see; the strikeouts you don't, but they sure add up.

Does anybody think this is just a cruel joke by the Angels? Unlike Richard, who called for Mickey Hatcher's job should the Angels sink to third place by season's end, I'm not so sanguine that such a move would have appreciable impact; the problem is systemic. It's only been a month since the Angels had swept the Yankees in the Bronx, and I actually believed the postseason was a real possibility. The weekend after that feat, Joe Sheehan analyzed the Angels' play at Baseball Prospectus:

The Angels are once again executing an unreliable plan as well as it can be executed. If you live and die by batting average, you can win when you hit .280. Be a little bit worse--as they were in 2003, when they hit .268, or in 2001, when they hit .261--and you can't score enough runs to win because you don't have enough runners on base. They don't walk; only the Royals have fewer than the Halos' 344 bases on balls. Their isolated power of .145 is just 10th in the league, and by far the worst of any good AL team. They hit singles better than anyone else, though, and in '04, they're doing it well enough to have a winning lineup.
Sheehan went on to say "This Angels team looks almost exactly like the 2002 version, and it's entirely possible that, in an AL that lacks a great team, they're on the same path they were on two years ago." While that's as nice to hear as Eric Chavez's early-season effusiveness, what he missed was the team's continued failures in starting pitching, not to mention a dreadful decline in defensive efficiency (as of this writing, the Angels are 10th in the AL, vs. first in 2002). The offensive approach needs to change, and Hatcher is a symptom, not the root of the problem.


Dodgers 3, Giants 2

Rueter got off lucky. We should have pounded him much harder than that, but five double plays will tend to put a damper on the evening's offense.

What a dramatic game. The Dodgers got everything they could have asked for: OP shook off his recent troubles and gave us a big game, pitching eight solid innings, resting the bullpen -- except for Gagne, who walked to go through Bonds to get the save. Meantime, the offense kept threatening to bust the game open and get into the bullpen early, but Reuter somehow managed a quality start.

Despite some people's feelings about the matter, Eric's control didn't strike me as all that bad; I got the impression his A stuff was left behind, maybe in some luggage his wife forgot to pack. Snow's at bat seemed more like Gagné was trying to pitch around him than he was trying to make his spots and missing. But I won't lie to you, either; I leapt when Werth recorded the final out. It was the most exciting regular season game I've seen since Jerry Reuss's 1980 8-0 no-hitter -- also against the Giants.

So we're guaranteed a division lead at the end of the series now. Not that the Bums won't blow it tomorrow, but with the Cubs' light schedule (two remaining against the Mets, four against Cincy, and three vs. the Braves, the last seven at home), the odds remain quite strong that there won't be a postseason slot for whoever comes in second in the NL West. Clay Davenport's playoff odds report still has the Dodgers as division champions in 72.9% of the scenarios, and the Cubs the Wild Card winners in 78% of the scenarios. Gotta, gotta, gotta win the division. And the nine games remaining are a long, long way in the future. But -- our magic number is now seven. Let's hope it gets to five this weekend.


In my undying pedantry, I will point out that it's Kirk Rueter.

I have an affinity for funny looking guys like Rueter as he is from the same part of Illinois as my father was and I like to point out that a family reunion of mine would involve numerous people who look Rueter.
That's exactly why I want them to fire Hatcher- it means they know something is wrong with the system (and it's also a shot over Mike Scioscia's bow. This is two under performing years in a row- is the honeymoon over yet?). I'm not dumb enough to believe that the hitting coach makes a damn bit of difference, but it would be a symbolic move that the club is ready and willing to make changes.
Thanks for the pointer, Bob.
Rob didn't you say we would lose the division and our season is over?
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