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Friday, July 11, 2008

The Rangers Can Hit: Angels 11, Rangers 10 (11 Innings)

I still say that if you let a six-run lead disappear you don't deserve to win, and that's exactly what happened here, with John Lackey, Darren Oliver, and Scot Shields blowing a 10-4 advantage on a hot night when the wind was actually blowing in to that hell of a ballpark. Even the final margin of victory, one stinkin' run, was so narrow I was pretty sure that Frankie would give up a suitably timed longball to lose the game. But when it came right down to it, Art Howe — substituting for an ejected Ron Washington — gave away the game by taking the bat out of one of his best hitters, Ian Kinsler, and making him bunt to advance a pair of runners. Frankie caught the bunt attempt for the first out, and settled down to retire the next two, earning his 36th save of the season.

It's a good thing, because Frankie blew the first bunt, by Max Ramirez; Ramirez squibbed it right to Frankie — who decided to try for a double play, only to let the ball sail into center field. It was one of those things that just makes you want to cry, or throw things, or scream, and yet by that time I was so sure the Angels were going to lose this game — dammit, they deserved to, having blown multiple opportunities to win — that I just didn't have the energy.

What made so much of this even nuttier is that with all the hitting, it was a pinch-hitting Maicer Izturis who broke through in the top of the eleventh with a clutch single, while Ryan Budde made his first appearance of the year, and as far as I can tell, had no influence on its outcome other than calling pitches behind the dish in the bottom of the eleventh.

In fact, so far as I can tell, this game marks the first time in history that the Angels have won a game in which the opposition had 20 or more hits, and only the sixth time they've won a game in which the opposition outhit them by eight or more. (The last time was June 21, 1993, a weak outing by Chuck Finley and two relievers who gave up 13 hits to the Royals in a 4-3 win.) They were outhomered three to two, and out hit 20-12. Howie Kendrick, who had none coming into the game, hit both the Angels' longballs. As exciting a game (and by turns depressing) as we've seen all year, and one that — forgive me for saying it — almost had the feel of a postseason game because of its intensity.

Yahoo boxMLB.com recap

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