Saturday, April 29, 2006

White Sox 2; Angels 1

Kelvim, welcome to 2004. Of course, the lack of run support tonight came against a pitcher who apparently found something in mid-season last year, because he's been terrific ever since. Credit Don Cooper for noticing something in Contreras and getting him to Chicago where he could figure it out.

All of this shouldn't obscure the fact that the Angels' offense just absolutely sucks. They have one great hitter, one good hitter, a few OK hitters, and a bunch of dudes that are pretty much automatic outs. It doesn't help when Scioscia, apparently suffering from some massive head injury, decides to start Edgardo Alfonso at designated out-maker. I'm still trying to figure out why Tim Salmon wasn't at the plate at some point in the ninth inning. You can argue that he can no longer turn on a Jenks fastball, but to make that argument, you have to convince me that Alfonso can.

Escobar left the game for some reason after 72 pitches, but not before he provided some fireworks in the second when he plunked AJ Pieraslkdfjsky. I've said it before, but I hold no ill will towards AJ for what happened in last year's playoffs. He didn't do anything wrong. It's not his fault that Doug Eddings is a serial liar and incompetent piece of shit. But speaking of pieces of shit, AJ definitely qualifies, as most people who played with him on the Twins and Giants seem to agree with. The guy has been an asshole his entire major league career, and as such, if he were to get plunked in every at bat for the rest of his career, well, he probably deserves it.

This was a game the Angels could have won, though Scioscia's playing time decisions hamstrung them a bit. Now they have to win tomorrow against a pitcher who really doesn't scare me. We'll see which Magic Man shows up tomorrow. Let's hope it's the one who shut out the Sox last year in his second major league start.

White Sox 8; Angels 5

Jeff Weaver. He's not very good.

Silver linings: The bullpen ERA came way down. I got to watch the Lakers game instead. I didn't have to spend the whole night listening to Hawk and DJ.

Oh well, I figured this matchup was in their favor. I think the next two are pretty even, but the Angels need to take at least one.

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.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Tigers 5; Angels 2

That's pretty much what happens when the Angels face Bonderman. They lose. And they don't hit. And as such, I really don't have very much to say about this game.

In other news, Grant Lee Phillips was on tonight's Gilmore Girls episode. Yes, I DVRd tonight's episode because I knew Grant Lee was going to be on. I'm not ashamed to admit it. He's a cool dude and great songwriter. But the coolest thing is that tonight, in his brief 30 seconds or so, he was singing "40 Years" which was one of the singles from the debut album "Monkey on a Chain Gang" by House of Freaks, whose lead singer, Bryan Harvey, was murdered on New Years Day. I'm sure Harvey and Grant Lee were acquaintances, though I've never seen them linked anywhere, but I thought that was pretty neat.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Tigers 0; Angels 3

That was a pretty freaking tremendous pitching performance all the way around. The Kid was fantastic, albeit he made a lot of pitches. But hey, that will happen when you strike out ten guys. He held the cats to 0 runs on 5 hits and 2 walks, and escaped a bases loaded jam in the third inning. His fastball was really popping, and his curveball, though erratic at times, was plenty good enough to get the job done. Fantastic outing.

As if that wasn't enough, the relievers stepped up and tried to outdo him. B-Don entered in the seventh, as Santana had thrown 111 pitches to that point (only 65 for strikes - he had a lot of three ball counts) and retired the side in order, one by strikeout. Shields entered for the eighth and other than a two out double to Ordonez, was his normal virtually unhittable self.

That set the stage for Frankie. As if he had been reading Rob's recent posts, he took the mound and absolutely blew the Tigers away. He blazed three fastballs past Chris Shelton. He got ahead of Craig Monroe and sent him to the dugout on a breaking pitch (Monroe struck out four times). Then, just to show off, he struck out pinch hitter Alexis Gomez on another curve ball. That's now 14 strikeouts in 9.2 innings, and his ERA has dropped to 3.72. I must admit, I'm curious to see what Rob thought was wrong with him tonight. But I kid Rob.

The only thing that could have outshown the pitchers tonight was a big night from Tim Salmon, and to make sure the pitchers didn't get all the credit, he responded with a homer to left on a breaking ball, then added some insurance with a two out RBI single in the sixth inning.

Nice way to start the homestand. Pipo takes the mound tomorrow, and hopefully he can give them five innings or so, and Kevin Gregg can pick up most of the other four, because I gotta think that the back end of the bullpen won't be available. Finally, note to the Tigers color guy, please don't comment on things you know nothing about. Just because Chone Figgins is small does not mean he doesn't have a strong arm. He does. And if you knew what you were talking about, you'd know that. There were also a couple of other asanine comments that I didn't write down, but trust me, they were there. Lucky for him he has a consummate professional in Mario Impemba in the booth next to him.

40 out; 36 in = 76

My first individual competitive round since sometime around 1997 went pretty well. Today I played in a qualifier for the Illinois State Mid-Amateur Championship (limited to those with a handicap somewhere under 6 for people over 25). I fired a 76 at Balmorol Woods in Crete, IL. It's not a particularly long course, but the greens have some serious teeth, and they were rolling pretty quick today. The cut eventually came in at 79, which means I've qualified for the championship next month. It's a two day even with a cut after the first day, so the goal right now is to make it to the second day.

As for today's round, it was kind of strange, really. I bogeyed #1, which is probably one of the three or four easiest holes on the course, and one on which I can never seem to do better than bogey. I followed that up with seven straight pars, including a 3-putt par on #3, a short par five on which I hit driver - 4-iron, then proceeded to 3 jack away an easy birdie. Another 3 putt on #9 was my first bogey in 8 holes. I followed that up 8 straight pars, including brilliant up-and-downs on #13 and #16, while missing a great birdie chance on #14. Honestly, I don't think I've ever had a stretch of at least seven consecutive pars before today, let alone two.

Then came #18. I figured that 76 would be safe, and that I could probably get in with 77. After the par on 14, I figured I had three shots to play with, and I was going to need at least two, as #15 is a tough hole, and I figured there was another bogey lurking somewhere. So I went to 18 at two over, feeling pretty safe, knowing I had at the very least one shot to play with, probably two, maybe three (as it turns out, it was four). I hit an absolutely perfect drive (I drove the ball pretty well all day). At that point, I figured I was in. Worst case scenario, I make bogey and walk off with a 75. At that point, me and a fellow competitor (who, with an 85, didn't play as well as he could have) started talking about the course at which the championship is being played, counting my chickens, if you will. King of surprising, because I'm certainly no chicken counter. Anyway, I stepped up to the ball and proceeded to shank it dead right. Got a lucky break off a tree, and followed that up by chunking the next shot. So now I'm lying three in the fairway, praying that I could make double. Which is exactly what I did. Not exactly how you want to finish. I don't know how the CDGA sets up their tournaments, but this may affect my tee time. When I played in the USGA Publinx, I barely qualified for the sectional, and was in one of the last groups.

Anyway, I figured that this year would be a good year to build up some tournament experience, and next year I'd make more of a run at these events, but I'm ahead of my own schedule right now. I didn't play as well as I could have, but it was my first round in a while that meant something, where I had to hole out every putt, and I responded fairly well. Let's hope I play a little better next month.

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.

Busy/Lazy weekend

But for now, I'd just like to know what happened to all of the "Frankie: is hiding an injury; sucks; should be replaced by Shields; etc." comments seem to have gone. Funny how that happens.