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Sunday, June 01, 2008

Fourth Walkoff In A Week! Angels 4, Blue Jays 3

If you've looked at this game lineup, you already know I'm gonna start by griping that Gary Matthews, Jr. appeared in the two hole, where he clearly did not belong, that Howie Kendrick was missing entirely from the starting lineup, and that despite Sean Rodriguez' third inning two-run homer, the chances of getting any meaningful offense out of the bottom third of the lineup was negligible, with the possible exception of seventh-hitting Mike Napoli. (That two-run jack was made possible by a Brandon Wood infield single. Go, him.) Napoli, as we shall see, did make one game-changing offensive contribution, but it was not of his choice.

So much for the early scoring by the Angels. Jon Garland got the first two outs of the first inning in fairly short order, and never looked as good again, surrendering single runs, appropriately on singles and a ball four wild pitch to Lyle Overbay that allowed Alex Rios to score from second. He gave up a leadoff walk to Kevin Mench in the second (he eventually scored on Marco Scutaro's sac fly), and an 0-2 count solo homer to Rod Barajas after retiring the first two batters he faced in the third. (Never throw a strike on an 0-2 count, Jon! Jeez!) Along the way he expended 115 pitches, an eye-popping 44 of them in the first inning.

The Jays threatened again in the sixth with a leadoff double by Brad Wilkerson against Darren Oliver, who stranded him by retiring the next three batters; and again in the seventh, mounting a two-out rally that Jose Arredondo squelched. Arredondo pitched a perfect eighth, but gave up a pair of infield singles, though David Eckstein's leadoff single might have easily been scored an error, since Brandon Wood fielded the ball cleanly and threw it well up the line from Casey Kotchman. Wood redeemed himself two batters later, when Arredondo got Rios to bounce into a 5-4-3 double play, and struck out Scott Rolen to end the inning.

The Angels' recovery from their prone state came against closer B.J. Ryan, and oddly enough, it was Vlad's flaccid bat that sparked it. Torii Hunter singled behind him, driving Vlad to third base in typical Angels fashion, but then Kotchman bounced into a fielder's choice that erased Vlad at home. It worked out, though, because the Jays fumbled the ball after that, allowing Hunter to reach third and Kotchman to reach second.

That brings us to Mike Napoli's intentional walk to load the bases with one out. There is always a danger that an intentional pass will bring out wildness in a pitcher, and Ryan then plunked Howie Kendrick (called in as a ninth inning replacement for the pinch-hitting Reggie Willits) to tie the game. That brought Maicer Izturis to the plate, and he drove in the game winning run with a line drive single, to general applause, not least by the Rally Monkey.

ESPN BoxRecap

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