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Friday, July 24, 2009

Sofa King Comeback: Angels 6, Twins 5 (10 Innings)

The way the Angels' starting pitching has been this year, I tuned this one out after Jered Weaver gave up three straight runs to start the first; no point getting irritated in a game out of reach, especially with a good team like Minnesota, right? That apathy lasted about four innings before I gave it up and lit up Gameday Audio again. Turns out I forgot something about Scott Baker: he has never beaten the Angels. True to form, he came unglued in the fifth, loading up the bases on two singles and a walk with nobody out. Sure enough, the Halos capitalized, with Kendry Morales hitting a hold-your-breath long fly ball to left, and Erick Aybar hitting a bloop single to cash in Bobby Abreu.

Weaver gave up another in the sixth, on Jason Kubel's RBI single after surrendering a pair of one-out baserunners. That, too, was a head-for-the-garage moment, and though Weaver managed a respectable but not quality start (four runs, all earned, in seven frames), it was hardly his finest hour.

The Angels got that one back in the bottom of the sixth on a Chone Figgins single that drove in Jeff Mathis from third, but no mas; and when the Twinks got another run on a two-out RBI scoring single that the Angels mercifully terminated the inning on (Denard Span got knocked out at third, thank you very much), the inevitability of a loss loomed pretty heavily. After all, the M's would be sending Joe Nathan to the mound, he of only two blown saves all year.

Somehow, the Angels pulled it off, and both times with two outs. Erick Aybar and Gary Matthews, Jr. both drove in runs on RBI singles, tying the game, and forcing extras. Both at-bats were surreal:

The door appeared to close, though, when the Angels were down to their last strike with Matthews at the plate with a 1-2 count and two outs. Matthews took two close pitches and then dropped a bloop single into center field to score a run and bring the Angels to within one run.

"I made some pretty good pitches and I thought I had Matthews, but I didn't get the call and after that he just put the bat on the ball," Nathan said.

The luck didn't end there, however, as Kendrick hit a ground ball that hit off Nathan and then in front of the bag to allow the game-tying run to score from third.

"We caught a break when the ball hit the bag, but I think the pitcher slowed it," Scioscia said. "So if it didn't hit him it might have gone up the middle anyways. But it was a game of inches tonight and it fell our way tonight."

Jesse Crain was maybe not the first choice for this role, but as far as the Angels were concerned, it was a good choice. He now has a 6.32 ERA against them, thanks in part to a Mike Napoli RBI double, and thank you very much.

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