Sunday, April 23, 2006

Angels 4: A's 3

That makes two of three, and with that, the Angels take the first series of the season against Oakland. Two of the three games were decided by one run, and the teams each scored 12 runs in the series. Yep, it looks like they're going to be pretty even for a while. Of course, while all eyes in the AL West were on this series, they Rangers went out and won four straight games and are now tied with the Angels atop the division, two games up on Oakland. Also, Seattle is back there somewhere.

As mentioned yesterday, expect all of the gnashing of teeth regarding K-Rod to die down for a while. After struggling in two outings, one in which the game wasn't in doubt, and another in which he blew the save, he's taken the mound three times. In those three outings, he's tossed 3 and a third scoreless innings, allowing one hit, two walks (one was a two out, none on walk to Frank Thomas, an "unintentional intentional walk"), while striking out five. He's grabbed a save in all three, two of which were one run games. Today he did it against the heart of the A's lineup. I'm no expert, but he's looked pretty damn sharp.

I'll be the first to admit that part of the reason he looked sharp today is because the crappiest umpire in the major leagues was behind the plate. Doug Eddings is still a cocksucker, but today, he seemed to be an equal opportunity cocksucker, twice calling Figgins out on pitches over his head. But he threw some incompetence in the Angels' direction as well, and they took advantage.

The A's sent one of their off-season pickups, Esteban Loiza, to the mound. He was as crappy as I expected him to be this season, although word is he was suffering some sort of muscle spasm. Whatever it was, he was pitching very well, and he got at least two or three outs thanks to the enormous and untrackable strike zone of Eddings. Still, he gave up three runs on seven hits in 3.2 innings, pushing his ERA to over 8 in the young season. Kirk Saarloos came on and gave a monster shot to Vlad in the fifth which capped the Angels scoring for the night

Escobar was solid for much of the afternoon. He retired the first nine hitters he faced, but he ran into trouble in the fourth, giving up a leadoff walk followed by two singles. After inducing a pop-up from Frank Thomas, Escobar walked Milton Bradley for the A's first run of the game. The play of the game was turned in by Adam Kennedy on the next at bat. Adam Melhuse hit what appeared to be a game tying single, but Kennedy made a diving snag, flipped it to Cabrera for one, who then leaped over a charging Milton Bradley and threw a strike to Le Q at first base for the double play, ending the inning, and ending the threat.

The long, hard road slog is over, and the Angels head home, having gone 5-5 on the trip. Not great, but not awful, and they head home with a share of the lead in the division, while Texas' schedule gets a little tougher. The Angels did this sort of thing last season for a while as well. Win two, lose one, win two lose two, etc., before putting some winning streaks together. Time to start putting some streaks together.

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