Saturday, September 01, 2007
7-6 = 6.5: Angels 7, Rangers 6 (10 Innings)
It was a "sloppy" game, with the Angels committing two errors, one of them an egregiously bad Vlad misplay in the fifth inning on a routine fly that turned into three bases for Nelson Cruz, with two runs scoring on two outs. It was the kind of game that makes you scream, because Joe Saunders just didn't have his best stuff, and the Rangers kept putting him on the ropes in every inning but the third. Yet thanks to that error, Saunders escaped with only two earned runs worth of damage to his ERA.
Sloppy play also plagued the Rangers, as evidenced by the blown shift play put on against Vlad in the fifth. With tyro first baseman Jarrod Saltalamacchia essentially playing second base, he fielded the opposite-field grounder cleanly — but Vicente Padilla just forgot to get to first base, and so Vlad reached on what was adjudged an infield single. No error, but it cost the Rangers plenty, because Garret Anderson blasted one into the former right-field bullpen to temporarily give the Angels a 5-4 lead.
The Angels added one in the seventh on a rally started by a Jeff Mathis single and completed by Vlad's scoring fielder's choice to the plate that missed, but Speier gave up the tying run on a Nelson Cruz solo homer, and Frankie gave up the tying run in the ninth on a check-swing bloop single to right, one of those infuriating plays that remind you the game really is one of inches. It was too bad, because it obscured a terrific 2-3 fielding job by Mathis on Gerald Laird's bunt attempt for a leadoff single.
I'm sure there's plenty more that I'm missing — aside from the Angels now having the best record in baseball (80-54) and the largest lead in any division (6.5 games, sorry Bob), nothing really sticks out in my mind. Maybe that's because I really need to get to bed.
Update: With an 18-11 record in August, the Angels tie 2002 for the third-best August record in club history. The best two Augusts are 2004 (19-8) and 1986 (19-10).
I'm still not convinced they'll get by the Red Sox, but maybe if they get home field and Morales and/or Kotchman keep going as they are, maybe they can make it past Big Papi & Co.