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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Double-Double And A Salami: Angels 14, Indians 11

The Angels broke records and made the outfielders work at the wall in this one, a wild offensive game with John Lackey posting the Angels' third weak start in a row. Luckily for him, the Angels offense bailed him out in the fifth, but here I get ahead of myself.

Lackey clearly wasn't his usual solid self, as evidenced by a leadoff walk to Grady Sizemore. He didn't help himself by barking at the umpire in the first at-bat of the game, and though he retired the next man, David Dellucci, on a liner to right fielder Juan Rivera, he immediately followed it up with a double to Ben Francisco and an RBI single to Jhonny Peralta to get himself behind 1-0 with men on the corners. He then compounded all that with a throwing error on what should have been an easy, inning-ending, 1-6-3 double play. That allowed Shin-Soo Choo, one of the Tribe's weakest hitters, to reach base and the inning to continue.

It was just one of those games for Lackey, who will undoubtedly be happy to see July go away; he had a 6.75 ERA this month coming into the game, and this outing only made it worse, surrendering six earned runs over five very shaky innings. He settled down in the second and third, retiring the side in order twice, but that was the last time that would happen; Cleveland then sent a total of 14 men to the plate in two innings for four more runs, two of them on a Ryan Garko blast.

That left the rest of the game to the already-taxed bullpen, but fortunately for the Angels, Justin Speier was able to assemble a scoreless frame, retiring the side in order in the sixth and one of only three scoreless innings by Angels pitchers. Darren O'Day's normally reliable sinker clearly wasn't working, as he recorded exactly zero outs in the infield and had serious control problems as well. He walked a batter, gave up a leadoff homer to Grady Sizemore, and plunked a pair besides. That brought in Jose Arredondo, who wasn't all that good himself, allowing both his inherited baserunners to score, eventually giving up a run himself in the ninth. K-Rod came in to collect his 42nd save of the season, the ninth time in his career he's earned a save making only a single out and the first time he's done it with only one pitch.

But as I said earlier, this game was really all about the offense, and Lackey can buy them all steaks once they're off the plane to Baltimore, and in particular, Jeff Mathis, whose first-pitch grand slam off Tom Mastny gave Lackey his eighth win of the year. The slam was Mathis' first of his career, the second homer of the series, and his third of the month. Moreover, it was one of four hits Mathis got in the game, his first four-hit game ever.

That sort of thing was going around, though, especially once the Halos chased Cleveland starter Aaron Laffey in the top of the fifth. Laffey gave up two straight hits, one of them Howie Kendrick's third double of the game — what is it that Matt Welch says about looking up after every Howie at-bat and seeing him at second? An intentional walk to Garret Anderson and an unintentional one to Gary Matthews, Jr. later (the latter following a pitching change to Tom Mastny), and there was Mathis getting high fives in the dugout one pitch later. In the end, Mathis cashed in six runs, also a career high. Heck, even Matthews reached base three times and scored a couple runs. The only guy who just couldn't get it going was Chone Figgins, who went 0-for-6, though one of those outs was on (IMO) a bogus interference call in the first. It was a fine moment for the offense, who took advantage of wobbly Indians pitching. The only bummer was that my little niece couldn't get to see the Rally Monkey on the video board, but then, I was hoping they wouldn't need her services in this game.


Yahoo boxMLB.com recap

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