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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Panik On The Streets Of Scottsdale: Angels 5, Giants 3

I suppose I should preface this by mentioning that my thoughts on last night's extraordinary news of the Dodgers sale will have to wait for a while or else I'll never get this recap out the door. Yesterday, a mostly regular-season Angels team beat a mostly regular-season Giants team, with the Angels scratching out single runs in the third and fifth off a clearly flaky Tim Lincecum. Lincecum uncharacteristically walked a pair and struck out only two; if he is going to return to dominance, he needs to step it up, and in a hurry. The Giants' ace has watched his walk totals increase while his strikeout rate has declined. His 2011 was not at the nearly 4:1 rate of his 2009, but it was still very respectable (220:86). Still, you get the impression that Lincecum will cease to wear the mantle of "top five starter in the league" soon if he doesn't stop this downward slide.

Peter Bourjos had a couple star turns in this game, ending the fourth with a spectacular grab of Brandon Belt's line drive in deep left center, just before us in the berms at the Giants' fine park in Scottsdale. Then, to start off the fifth, Bourjos smacked a screamer down the left field line for a double off Lincecum, and Bobby Wilson singled him home, a sort-of replay of the third. Unaccustomed to such abuse, the Giants fans in our section screamed, "Whatsamatter with Bourjos? He's a bum!" You wish, San Fran. You wish.

Brad Mills, one of the returns from the junkpile trade that shipped Jeff Mathis out of town, pitched surprisingly well. The two runs he allowed yesterday were the first all spring, so go him; perhaps a change of scenery will do him good. Or, not. We'll have to see. As one of the BPro wags put it, you will rarely go wrong betting against a sudden improvement. He did, at least, go long enough to qualify for the win (six innings), which is a good thing; I expected him to leave after four and change.

For the longest time, the game dragged on in late innings, still tied, and with little hope of resolution entering the ninth, I consoled myself that spring games go only to ten innings. After Jorge Cantu lined out to second, I found myself hung between hope (hard contact) and despair (one out closer to extras). Then, Trumbo doubled, instantly putting the winning run in scoring position. That brought Javier Lopez out of the bullpen for the Giants, who proceeded to walk the next two batters he faced before blowing the game open with a bases-clearing triple to Alexei Amarista. The Giants got one back in the bottom of the frame with Daniel Tillman walked the leadoff batter, a shortstop named Panik. I declined the invitation to panic, and even though he eventually scored, it came with a sac fly out from the left fielder, named Pill, and so the game came to a happy end for Angels fans. Amarista is making a real case to be on the 25-man when camp breaks, but I confess I have no idea what that would do to the bench.

Angels recapBox

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