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Friday, April 17, 2009

If I Didn't Care: Angels 5, Mariners 1

If I didn't care more than words can say
If I didn't care would I feel this way?
If this isn't love then why do I thrill?
And what makes my head go 'round and 'round
While my heart stands still?
— The Ink Spots
I suppose a 30's ballad repurposed in a classic science fiction film (and then, not even officially) is a strange way to start off this recap, but truth be told I don't have a better idea, and for the first five innings, neither did the Angels. 3DOC's fearful preview turned out to be unsatisfyingly prescient, with unknown righty (I somehow recalled him as a southpaw) Chris Jakubauskas, making his major-league debut (at age 30!) on the mound.

Unknown pitchers often have a grace period associated with their freshman seasons, but his wasn't long enough to avoid picking up a loss in his first appearance. That's not to say he didn't pitch well; 5.1 innings and two earned runs isn't a bad outing for a maiden voyage (and especially for someone who, three years ago, was starting for the Fullerton Flyers), and I expect the M's will employ him until his arm falls off or he proves himself hopelessly inept.

But the other side of that equation had to be the Angels offense finally coming around. As they kept reminding us on the radio broadcast last night, the Angels have been atypically bad hitting with runners in scoring position (.200 or so entering yesterday's game) and with two outs (.100, ditto). Much as I give the Angels brain trust a clubbing for their clinging to these stats, they're not unimportant, and so it was with a significant amount of pleasure that I watched yesterday's game-winning, two-out rally. The thing was built entirely of singles, as befits the Angels offense, with Mike Napoli providing two RBIs on an attenuated swing at a two-strike pitch, whacking a ball straight up the middle.

Joe Saunders got the team through seven frames limiting the damage to one run, no small feat considering he managed to load the bases in the fourth with a contact hitter (Endy Chavez) at the plate. Arredondo threw a scoreless seventh, and Brian Fuentes managed to avoid blowing another game even despite a four-run lead, which maybe says something about the early tenuousness of his use in the closer slot.

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