Friday, April 07, 2006

Yankees 1; Angels 4

I mentioned the other day that I thought the Angels had an advantage in this one based on the premise that while the Yankees were throwing their number 4 starter, the Angels had arguably their best pitcher going. That being the case, the result didn't surprise.

The Angels jumped on top in the first inning with Orlando Cabrera hitting his second homer in as many games, this one following a Chone Figgins double. They added on in the fourth after Darin Erstad singled home Garret Anderson. And when the Yankees got on the board with a Johnny Damon double, the Halos answered right back on a bases loaded infield single by Juan Rivera, aided by some nice hustle by GA.

Some scary moments in the seventh when JC Romero couldn't find the plate, creating a situation much like the one he wriggled out of on opening day by walking two batters. Scot Shields added to the trouble by walking the bases loaded before inducing a double play grounder to end the threat. After an easy eighth from Shields, Frankie put it away in the ninth, a little scare on a deep fly ball to center by Posada notwithstanding.

So the Angels improve to 2-2 on the season, and they continue to hold the upper hand against the Yankees. Terrific start by Kelvim, who didn't walk a batter, and fanned his 1000th batter, and it was Jason Giambi, certainly no slouch.

Two disappointments: 1) Joe West makes me wonder how you can hold a major league umpiring position for as long as he has, yet not see the first baseman's foot on the bag for a good second after he caught the ball. Simply a pathetic mistake, which fortunately didn't figure in the outcome. 2) No Kingfish in the lineup. Would have been nice to see him come to the plate in this one, and because of the chundermuffins at Extra Innings, I didn't get to see any pre-game introductions of the team, assuming they did one.

The kid takes the mound tomorrow against Big Ugly, who looked pretty sharp in his opening day start, but who hasn't looked great against the Angels recently if memory serves, and there's a good chance it doesn't. I would imagine we'll see Timmay in the lineup at the DH slot and hopefully Juan Rivera in left as GA sits against the lefty, but I don't write out the scorecard.

As things get back to normal, it feels good to be writing one of these up right after a game again. Of course, I've got an out of town guest tomorrow and a golf tournament on Sunday, so it's another ragged weekend.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Angels 5; Mariners 6

In three games so far this season, the Angels bullpen has been very good, very bad, and very mediocre. Unsurprisingly, the latter two efforts led to losses despite solid offensive performances, and the Angels find themselve 1-2 going into the weekend series against the Yankees.

It's almost impossible to write about game outcomes at this point with a view towards the rest of the season. There's simply no way to tell what three games against one opponent mean in the greater scheme of things. It's like when I used to play hockey and we'd have seasons that were nine games long. You never knew until about 4 or 5 games in just how you matched up. So while the outings from Yan and Donnelly were no doubt disturbing, it's impossible to know whether we can expect more of the same. Can we really expect Salmon to hit like this all season? God, I sure hope so.

For the second straight night (hey, it's night where I live), the Angels got behind early, let the game get away from them in the middle innings, staged a comeback that brought the tying run to the plate, but couldn't get that man across, and fell to their Northestern rivals. I missed the first few innings due to work, so three games in, I still haven't seen a full game. What have I seen? Well, I liked the swing that Mathis put on the ball in the ninth, but the way he pulls off tells me that he's not going to be hitting many out to right field. I like the fact that they've been patient at the plate in the late innings. I like that they haven't given up when they've gotten behind. But I don't like the fact that they keep getting behind.

Tomorrow is an off day as they prepare for the home opener. The Angels have the advantage in that they have what many consider to be their likely ace on the mound against the Yankees #4 starter. But it would be nice to see them get out and get some early runs, hold a lead, and win a game from the outset. I'm as pessimistic after a loss as the next guy, but damn, it's only game three. Long way to go.

Crappy night

Angels - nice bullpen.

Kings - what more is there to say? Way to nut up on special teams. Losers.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Angels - Probably gonna lose

This game is not on extra innings, and though I can watch it on the computer, I don't think I want to. Lackey apparently doesn't have it, and Figgins is just butchering third base. Plus, the Kings are on, and they're actually winning.

It's a marathon, not a sprint.

Angels and Kings both win; distract me from UCLA loss

Kings 1; Vancouver 0

Because of the basketball game and various family issues, I only say the third period of this one. Great to have Pavol back in the lineup, and Garon has looked terrific the last two games. Unfortunately, they've put themselves in a position where they pretty much have to win every game, just based on who they're playing. The Kings are tied for 9th with San Jose, but the Sharks have two games in hand. They can still catch Edmonton, who leads by three points in the same number of games, and Vancouver, who leads by two with one more game played, but they need to hold the Sharks off while doing it. Two of their final six are against San Jose, so it's pretty much win those two It's an uphill battle, but stranger things have happened, and they finally have everyone in the lineup at the same time for the first time in forever.

Tonight, they face the Sucks with their season on the line yet again. Lose this one, and they're go from life support to a feeding tube.

Angels 5; Mariners 4

The Angels start the season where they left off, in first place. Missed most of this one, but I did catch the last couple of innings. Terrific at bats by Kotchman and Figgins to draw the free passes, and then clutch Cabrera came through with the game winning single. Didn't see what I can only assume was tremendous work by JC Romero to get out of a bases loaded, nobody out jam in the sixth. Shields was solid as expected, and other than a hanger by Frankie to Petagine, he looked sharp. Didn't throw the changeup he's been working on, but often a pitcher likes to save something like that until he needs, lest he show it too soon. Anyway, great way to start the season.

Florida 73; UCLA 57

Well, maybe it *was* the worst final four ever. No close games. No games really in doubt at any time in the second half. It was just tough to realize that if you had a rooting interest in any of the teams that got this far.

Florida pretty much took control with about 11 minutes to go in the first half, and never looked back. They played better defense than the Bruins, and they forced Ben Howland to do things that he didn't want to do, like go to a full court press, which Florida pretty much ate for breakfast. The turning point, in my opinion, came with about the 9 minutes mark. Florida had missed two straight shots, and after lay-up by Ced Bozeman, the Bruins had cut the lead to four. After another miss, Darren Collison raced up the court, and despite having opportunities to pass, tried to finish the play himself. The shot was disrupted, Florida went the other way, and Corey Brewer finished with an easy layup. It was a four point swing, taking what should have been a two point lead back to six. It killed any momentum the Bruins had created, and they never got closer the rest of the way.

Other than that, there's really not much else to say. The Gators played better in pretty much every facet of the game, and it showed on the final scoreboard. They've got some tremendous athletes, and Brewer on Afflalo was really a matchup problem for the Bruins on the offensive end. Afflalo just could not get loose all night. Their determination to keep going at Florida's shot blockers made a star out of Joakim Noah. And Florida's shot blocking affected shots even when they didn't try to block them. Witness Lo Mata's missed layup on a shot that he could have easily dunked. But he was tentative, worried about the contact, and couldn't finish the easy lay-in. It was that kind of night.

As disappointing as this loss was, it's important to keep it in perspective. I had this team pegged for a sweet sixteen, maybe an elite eight if everything broke right, before the season started. They exceeded my expectations, and probably everyone else's, too. Next year I expect this team to be better. That's not to say they'll win the championship. I think last year's Illinois team was better by a fair margin than every team in this tournament, and they ran into a better team. Anything can happen. But I think that the freshmen are going to show big improvements, especially Aboya, Wright, and LRMAM. Get them in those pick-up games with the NBA guys and we'll see where they are next year. While losing Ced Bozeman and Ryan Hollins will be tough, I expect them to actually improve at the three. Josh Shipp comes back and provides the scoring and rebounding that they didn't get from Ced this year, while a full year of Mata and improvement from Ryan Wright should adequately replace Hollins.

There's no reason to expect less than a great season from the Bruins next season, and while the loss hurts, there's a lot of reasons for optimism. Congratulations, UCLA, on a terrific 2005-2006. Congrats to coach Howland on his first final four. And best wished to Coach Wooden as he recovers from whatever it was that put him in the hospital yesterday.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Opening Day

And I won't be around to blog it. Sorry. Mom's in town, and my sister drove over from Ohio, so I can't really get of it. Fortunately I'll be home in time for the basketball game, but the baseball blogging I've been looking forward to will have to wait one more day.