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Saturday, August 30, 2008

Anderson Nips Nippert: Angels 3, Rangers 1

Six foot Seven and out of options...show me somethin' kid.
— from Dustin Nippert's Baseball Reference page
Dustin Nippert gets routinely clobbered, it seems; three times this year he's surrendered six runs or more, one of them to the Angels on April 4, a two-out, six-earned-run outing, his first of the year, leaving him with an insane 81.00 season ERA. But the Angels saw him a second time on July 7 at Texas, a seven-inning appearance during which he limited the Angels to just one run, but lost anyway thanks to an execrable performance by starter Luis Mendoza. It was the longest relief appearance recorded by any player all year; you'd have to go back to Ryan Madsen's seven-inning wonder on May 23, 2006 for the last time somebody did something that crazy that long.

Anyway, true to his previous form, Nippert actually was pretty good against the Angels for the most part, and in fact came within a couple outs of a quality start. But after five shutout innings, he got into trouble, giving up a single to Chone Figgins, and a 1-1 count homer to Garret Anderson that landed in the Scott Spiezio seats in right field. Ron Washington was understandably nervous about going to his bullpen, and so by the time Nippert left the game, the Angels had loaded the bases, the last two on consecutive walks. (Nippert's only out that frame was a leadoff strikeout of Sean Rodriguez.) Managerial conventions being what they are, in went ex-Angel product Warner Madrigal, who allowed another run to score on Juan Rivera's sac fly, but that was it for either side.

The Rangers got their lone run in the fourth, when Michael Young blasted a leadoff double off starter Ervin Santana, and was eventually cashed in on Milton Bradley's ensuing RBI single. But other than that, Santana did an excellent job keeping the powerful Texas offense from scoring, keeping Josh Hamilton off the bases altogether and limiting the 1-through-4 batters to only three hits, one of them an infield single. They had a chance at another in the seventh, when Santana again gave up a leadoff double, this time to Hank Blalock. He was followed up by Marlon Byrd, who hit a rocket to the centerfield fence that Torii Hunter intercepted with a spectacular catch to rob him of a home run, to the crowd's great delight.

K-Rod notched his 52nd save of the season, an uneventful 1-2-3 against the 4-5-6 hitters in the lineup. It seems odd and full of hubris to mention this, but the Angels' magic number is now down to eleven. In August.

Update: From Doug Padilla's blog:

"Oh man, Byrd is one of those guys that likes to go to right-center and I was playing in the other gap," Hunter said. "It was a long run and the ball was beating me there. I caught the ball but went face-first into the wall. I tasted it too. It was pretty nasty."


"It was pretty painful," Hunter said. "I wish I could describe it, but I think you saw my facial expression afterward. I was in pain. ... That was one of my favorites because I went face first and everybody was talking about me. It felt like Mike Tyson hit me. It was pretty ludicrous."

And if that wasn't enough, Hunter said the wall tasted like "collard greens." He suggested the team install a strawberry flavored wall in the near future.

Yahoo boxAngels recap

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I love Torii Hunter; what a great personality, and a fine ballplayer as well.

A strawberry-flavored wall?

If he had played in the spotlight of a major market his entire career, he'd be one of the two or three biggest stars in the game. Even if his production doesn't measure up in the last two or three years of his deal, it sure seems worth it right now.

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