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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Spring Training, Day 4: Angels 4, White Sox 1

As I mentioned on my Facebook status, White Sox fans do not apparently go to spring training, at least, not in the same sort of numbers as their crosstown rivals' fans do. This made today's game at Camelback Ranch positively pleasant compared to yesterday's abysmal experience; I suppose the moral is 2,000's a crowd, but 13,000's a riot. Or something, anyway, but the recorded attendance of 6,022 looked hopelessly optimistic, one of those phantom ticket-sales-versus-filled-seats problems owners so often worry about. (Helen interviewed an usher, who said the actual turnstyle attendance was 3,000-something, which I think looked about right.)

The Angels whacked around Gavin Floyd some, with Chone Figgins and Gary Matthews, Jr. hitting home runs off him. Little Sarge's was a real bomb, probably 440 or 450 feet to right center, a long towering tape measure leadoff shot in the fourth that Helen later identified by the scuff marks laid onto the concrete back of the outfield berms from the seams and trademark. By contrast, Dustin Moseley did himself proud, keeping a B-teamish lineup of White Sox off the scoreboard for five innings, which really is about his limit under even good circumstances. The hardest hit balls against him were singles by Chris Getz and Paul Konerko in the third; otherwise, they didn't make it out of the infield, and while he did give up a walk, he struck out four besides, so it was as good as I think anyone could have hoped for.

The Sox mainly stayed away from position player substitutions during the game, making only two. Chris Stewart relieved starting catcher Donny Lucy behind the plate in the sixth, and Brian Anderson pinch ran for Jim Thome in the ninth after Thome managed to load the bases with nobody out facing Justin Speier.

By contrast, the Angels started swapping starters out in the fifth and continued through the eighth, with 35-year-old Luis Figueroa getting more playing time in the eighth after replacing Howie Kendrick. I hadn't seen a lot of good at-bats by Howie prior to today's game, but his first inning flyout to center was a good swing that took Chisox centerfielder Brent Lillibridge out to the wall.

After Floyd, the Angels saw the good parts of the White Sox bullpen, with the result that they failed to score in the sixth through the eighth innings, though they came fairly close against Bobby Jenks, who walked Torii Hunter after suffering a bit of a command problem. Jenks then gave up a well-hit single to Matt Brown, but Juan Rivera tapped out to third to end the threat. The Angels tacked on another run in the ninth facing Mike MacDougal, but as both he and the Angels he faced at that point are hardly threats to make the 25-man roster (Ryan Budde and/or Ben Johnson are possible, but neither is likely), it seems almost beside the point.

Kevin Jepsen had a pair of surprisingly good 1-2-3 frames in the sixth and seventh, and Justin Speier faced the minimum in the eighth despite hitting DeWayne Wise with two out; Wise promptly erased himself on a 2-6 caught stealing to end the inning. As mentioned above, Speier got into trouble facing some actual major leaguers at the top of the Chisox' lineup, and promptly was fished out of it by Barrett Browning, who got starting shortstop Gordon Beckham to line out to center to finish the game.

It was a warm day, and with the park so lightly attended, moving around to either closer seats, or seats in the shade was no problem at all. Hopefully I'll get some pictures up soon.

MLB.com RecapBox

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