Thursday, April 27, 2006

Tiger 0; Angels 4

Getting to this one a little late for a couple of reasons. First, it was a day game, which meant I could only watch it intermittently while at work. Second, I got home last night around 6:30. Screwed around on the computer for about 20 minutes. Laid down in front of the TV (didn't even turn it on, mind you), and eventually woke up about 1:30 in the morning.

So anyway, obviously the big news was the arrival of Howie Kendrick in the starting lineup, if just for a day. If you had told me beforehand that he wouldn't get a hit, but would make three pretty nice defensive plays at second base, I would have been mildly surprised. But that's exactly what he did. I hope you didn't blink, or you likely missed his first two at bats. Four at bats, four balls in play, which included two ground outs to the pitcher, one to second, and a pop up to second. But he started a double play in the third that was thwarted by Quinlan's inability to scoop Cabrera's throw, and another one in the eighth after Brandon Inge walked to lead off the inning.

On the mound, Lackey was dominant, if a little wild at times. He finished the game with five walks, but allowed only one hit and struck out eight. Just when it seemed like he was ready to explode under a heavy pitch count, he found another gear and worked three more innings in which he faced the minimum and struck out two. He dropped his ERA about a run, and he's pitching like the John Lackey that we all expected to see this season. Scot Shields came on to close the game out as B-Don and Frankie grabbed another day of rest. He was touched only by Magglio Ordonez's single to right, but he was there long, as Vlad gunned him down after Maggs ventured a little too far off of first.

That wasn't the only highlight Vlad provided. He crushed his fifth home run of the year with Garret Anderson on base. GA had singled home Orlando Cabrera, and Vlad's homer made it a quick 3-0 lead. Mike Maroth must have kicked the official scorekeeper's dog, because he ruled Cabrera's routine grounder to short a hit when Carlos Guillen threw it away, which turned three runs that should have been unearned into earned runs. Maroth, off to a terrific start this season, saw his ERA triple as a result. Chone Figgins added some insurance and angered K-Rod owners by scoring in the fifth.

That makes three straight series wins in a row for the Angels who face the World Champs starting Friday. Freddy Garcia, who's been better than his ERA, take on Jeff Weaver, who hasn't been. Escobar vs. Contreras should be a great matchup, and I think the Angels have the advantage in the Sunday tilt between the Magic Man and John Garland. The Sox are really playing well right now, and Jim Thome is on fire. I can't remember seeing him play in person too often, be he hit a really impressive home run on Saturday. I mean, just a beautiful ball flight. A win in this series would be pretty nice. It would be even better if it came with the kids making some contributions at the plate. They've gotta start building some confidence.

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