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Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Smell Of Napalm In The Morning: Angels 12, A's 3

Welcome back, Jack Cust. How I missed the gentle sound of the ball clanging off your glove.
— Philip Michaels, on Facebook
I'm getting ahead of myself on that one, of course, but if you were an A's fan, you can be forgiven for feeling cheated by the fates Saturday night. Not only was the notoriously fragile Justin Duchscherer a last-minute scratch with an injury, but this game also served as Jack Cust's maiden voyage for 2010. Cust, you may recall, didn't make the club out of spring training, the A's instead deciding to DFA him to AAA Sacramento.

Six weeks later, and here the quad-A wünderkind still ends up on the 25-man, displacing former Angel Edwar Ramirez. As it happened, it wasn't worth it, at least not so far. The clank Philip referred to was his egregious misplay of a fairly routine fly ball off the ailing bat of Brandon Wood in the seventh, allowing Wood to take second. But by then, the game was long out of sight for the A's, the Angels having massively piled on to emergency starter Tyson Ross.

Believe it or not, it didn't actually seem like the game would be going the Angels' way for the first three innings. In fact, it had all the appearances of a late Angels slow grind to the "L", as the A's scratched or hammered out single runs in the first and third innings, the third inning a solo shot by Eric Freaking Patterson, f'r chrissakes, a man whom it is entirely possible to imagine finishing his career in single digits in the longball department.

The big story offensively, of course, was the Angels' fourth. With Ross carrying a perfect game into the inning, Bobby Abreu managed to get a two-out infield single. That was really the spark the Angels needed, because then Torii Hunter hit a whistler up the middle, and then Kendry Morales crushed one to the deepest part of the yard to get the Angels the lead, one they didn't relinquish the rest of the night.

Every starter save leadoff man Erick Aybar got a hit and scored a run, and so the Angels' offense continued to cue up run after run from the fourth through the seventh. After the wilderness the team seemed to leave their bats in lately, it was much needed. (Kendry hammered two out of the yard, incidentally, but it seemed like somebody was due another homer, given that the A's don't get an off day on Monday and they were determined to let the pitching hang itself if necessary to preserve some bullpen arms.) But just as necessary were the two good outings from Trevor Bell and Bobby Cassevah, who combined to throw the last three innings of the game without allowing a run. With a team where nothing can be taken for granted from any player, that's huge.

Lastly: it was mighty nice to meet so many folks from Halos Heaven, encamped near the end of the club level at the first base side, near the Knothole Club. Good to put faces to screen names, most especially you, Ladybug.

ESPN BoxAngels recap

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