Friday, May 04, 2007

White Sox 1: Angels 5

MVP has to go to the sky tonight. Without Erstad losing that ball in the gloaming, it would have been a much closer game. The offense still sucks, and relied on a lot of Sox mistakes to provide the winning margin tonight.

But credit where credit's due, and that goes to Kelvim, who was really pretty sharp. he gave the Angels seven strong innings, worked out of two significant jams, and allowed only eight baserunners, while striking out four. Better yet, he did it in 95 pitches. Watch his next start. It's an underrated area of analysis, but often times you'll see a pitcher on a fairly limited pitch count look really sharp in his next outing. And one thing the Angels have done almost better than any other team in the Scioscia era is manage their starters' workloads. That's an area where they don't get enough credit.

Back to the offense, at least it was a team effort tonight. Everyone, save Figgins, reached base at least once, and five different players scored. They got some serious breaks from the White Sox "defense", but props to the OC for coming through in a clutch situation and "breaking the game open", which for the Angels, means taking more than a one run lead.

Scot Shields is also starting to sharpen up. He was excellent over two perfect innings, striking out four in the process. Speaking of striking, take a look at the batting averages of the White Sox line up, but avoid it if you've got a weak stomach. Only Darin Erstad is hitting over .250, and Tadahito Iguchi is the only other player hitting over .216. Man, that's awful. They started six guys hitting under .210, two of whom are under .200, and a third is in double digits. Yowza.

Schmendrick takes the mound tomorrow, and against that lineup, he should roll. Jon "Granada Hills" Garland takes the mound for the Sox, with fellow alum Garret Anderson likely still sidelined. It's a day game, starting at about 3:00 my time. The good news is I should be back from Cog Hill (Dubsdread) by then. Got an appointment for a clubfitting after our round, weather permitting. Yeah, it rains here after March. I know, it sucks.

Grant Lee Phillips @ Lakeshore Theater - 5/3/07

Grant Lee has a new album which came out about a month or so called "Strangelet". In my opinion, after a handful of listens, is that it's his best solo work to date. A little louder and more up tempo than Ladies Love Oracle and Virginia Creeper, not quite as electronic as Mobilize. For me, so far, it's the one I've most enjoyed listening to.

To start with, last night's show was a treat because it's the first time since late 2001 that GLP has toured with a more or less full band (him, bassist, drummer). And the whole thing was electric. There wasn't even an acoustic guitar on stage. Most of that is probably because the new album sort of lends itself to that setup more than the last two, but it also means that the old GLB stuff is really going to sound great.

Clearly last night's show was going to be heavy on the new album. One of the downsides of seeing an artist with so much material (nine albums by my count) to draw from is that you're virtually guaranteed to leave without hearing everything you wanted to hear, but that's only a small complaint. He mixed in about half and half. Incomplete and out of order setlist (by album):
  • Runaway
  • Soft Asylum (No Way Out)
  • Fountain of Youth
  • Hidden Hand
  • Chain Lightning (he opened with this one)
  • Johnny Guitar
  • Raise the Spirit (video below)
  • Calamity Jane
  • Far End of the Night
  • Don't Look Down
  • Truly, Truly, Truly
  • Honey Don't
  • Mockingbirds
  • Lone Star Song (closed with this one)
  • Fuzzy
  • Wish You Well, which I'd never seen him do live before in the six or seven times that I've seen him.
Nothing off of Mobilize, Nineteeneightees, or Copperopolis.

It's truly an experience to see him live because he's either a great actor, or he really does love performing. More than anyone I've ever seen live, he really has a good time bantering with the crowd between songs, and that gets everyone into the show.

The down part last night was that "everyone" was a pretty small crowd. In addition to that, Lakeshore Theater is not a particularly good venue for a rock show. It's exactly what it says it is, a theater. As in, like a movie theater. It would be a great place to see a play, or a lecture. It's not a good place to see rock show. I don't like to sit at concerts, but you really didn't have a choice at this one. In addition, it was about three times too big for size of the crowd, especially for show in which the headliner was taking the stage at 11:00 on a Thursday night. This would have been a fantastic show at Schuba's. It was still a very good show, but the venue left a lot to be desired. That's not a knock on the theater itself. It just wasn't the right venue for this performance.

Speaking of Schuba's, Michael Penn comes to town next week.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Thank God for the AL West

The Angels may win the division only because every team sucks a little more than them. Then again, if they can't beat the Royals, and apparently they can't consistently, they'll find themselves in the cellar before too long.

Two hits. That's what they mustered today. Two goddamned hits. They've managed three runs in their last two games. Against the Royals.

These guys fucking suck.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Angels 1; Royals 3

Two things:
  1. Don't make the first or third out of the inning at third base. Especially the first out when Vlad is on deck.
  2. A pitcher shouldn't have 107 pitches through fewer than seven innings when he's pitching a shutout.
Also, with the way the Royals crowd the plate and get hit by pitches that are practically in the strike zone, someone needs to come out and just drill about six or seven of them in one game.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Angels 7; Royals 5

We need to keep this one in perspective. Despite starting his season with two solid starts, Bart has basically started three games in the last year. He's not going to be in mid-season form. And that was the case tonight, as he blew a five run lead, and would have if his offense hadn't picked him up in the fourth inning. But he battled on a night where he really didn't have it, got through five innings, and turned the ball over to a suddenly effective bullpen to hold the lead.

It looked to me like Bart was getting squeezed a bit in the second inning, and then again in the third when he walked Pena. As a result, he threw some pitches that got too much of the plate as he was just trying to throw strikes. These may the Royals, but they're still professionals, and they have some excellent young hitters. They made Bart pay, the long ball coming off the bat of Mark Teahen to pull the Royals to within one.

Bart had the big lead because the offense was stout early. After three straight singles to start the game, Zach Greinke got behind Vlad 3-1, and Vlad took it out on him by hitting the next pitch about 460 feet for a grand slam and four run lead. They added another in the second on a Matthews triple and Cabrera double. A Kotchman sac fly in the 4th pushed the lead to two, which was promptly cut back to one in the bottom of the 4th, before a Reggie Willits RBI single in the 8th provided the winning margin.

The Angels pounded out 13 hits: Two each for Aybar and Cabrera, three for Willits, and four for HGHMJ. It's not easy to figure out who the best young player has been to this point. Willits is seemingly always on base, now hitting .382 while getting on base at a .447 clip. Honestly, other than deference to the veteran, I don't know how you put Garret Anderson back in the lineup unless you make him DH and put Hillenbrand on the bench.

Then there's Erick Aybar. Forget the two stupid caught stealings in the first two weeks. He's now hitting .320, while playing outstanding defense at second base. He's clearly bench bound upon the return of Kendrick, but if I were Orlando Cabrera, I might be polishing my resume. They're going to need to have this kind in the infield every day in the next year or two. Yeah, I know he's not slugging, but he'll hit for just as much pop as Cabrera, with a better average, comparable defense, for about $7MM less.

And if you thought those were the only two fighting it out, you've clearly forgotten about Dustin Moseley. He bridged the 6th and 7th innings tonight, turning the ball over the Scot Shakyields. All he's done is toss 17.1 innings, allowing less than a base runner per inning, with an ERA barely over one. He doesn't strike a lot of guys out, but he doesn't walk many either, and he's keeping the ball in the yard this season. Oh, and opposing hitters are hitting only .186 against him. He and Joe Saunders are making Ervin Santana look very tradeable. I hear there's a team in a big market on the East Coast that's really struggling on the mound right now.

Same time and teams tomorrow night, with the aforementioned Ervin taking on Jorge De La Rosa. Can Ervin get it done on the road? We'll see.

Ted Leo Review and Pics

Can't argue with Pitchfork on this one. If you enjoy live music, you owe it to yourself to check out a Ted Leo show sometime.

Angels 3; Royals 1

I'm not sure there's a lot to say about this one. They still aren't scoring many runs on the road. And as good as the pitching was, it's hard to get excited about holding the Royals to one run.

Still, Lackey overcame some early Lackey-itis and started to work through some efficient middle innings, which allowed him to get into the seventh, where Speier shut the door. Shields walked a guy with no power who he had down 1-2 before breezing through the rest of the inning, and Frankie gave up a lead off double before striking out the side for his ninth save. And boy is he going to have a lot of saves this season if he stays healthy. Because they aren't going to be winning a lot of blowouts. If they have a lead in the ninth, there's a really good chance it will be within three runs.

Figgins looked pretty solid in his 2007 debut, poking an RBI double to left field, which could have been good for two RBIs if the runners hadn't been forced to hold, waiting to see if the ball was caught. He also started an excellent, yet dubious double play, which featured a terrific turn by Erick Aybar, though it was pretty clear that Estaban German beat the throw to first. They're going to need to make room for Aybar somewhere next year. That guy is a lot of fun to watch in the field.

HGHMJ made a nice second inning peg to nail Ryan Shealy at the plate and keep the lead at 2-1. He's really starting to deliver. Speaking of runners being thrown out, note to Vlad: Please stop getting thrown out at third. It's starting to get a little ridiculous.

Big Bart tomorrow against Zach Greinke in what should be another low scoring affair.

Seitz Goes Commercial

Seen these new Puma ads?

Like the song? Here it is in it's entirety. And if you see these guys live, bring earplugs, because they are very loud. But both times I've seen them, they've been well worth the experience. I'd introduce them as Mazarin, but they aren't Mazarin anymore. The name is still pending.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Wood Down, Figgins Back

Sorry Erick, but you're about to get a lot less playing time. Wood was sent back to Salt Lake after today's game, and Figgins will rejoin the team tomorrow.

Good move by management here, mostly because Figgins will hardly realize he's no longer in AAA, since the Angels will be facing the Royals.

Angels 5; White Sox 2; Umpires Pathetic

If you're a major league umpire, and affiliated with the pieces of shit who called the Angels - White Sox game today, you should be embarrassed for your profession. And if you're Hawk Harrelson, well, you're already an embarrassment, so there's really nowhere for you to go from there.

In the seventh inning, with runners on second and third with nobody out, Orlando Cabrera hit a sac fly to right field, where Ryan Sweeney made a great diving catch, allowing Reggie Willits to come home. Only, home plate umpire Adam Dowdy fucked it up by calling Willits out for leaving to early. Only problem? Willits didn't leave early. He left exactly when he was supposed to leave, as replays clearly showed. Harrelson's response? Willits shouldn't have made it so close that the umpire would screw it up. Apparently he should have hung around on third for a while before leaving.

You heard that right. According to the White Sox broadcasters (Darin Jackson was equally complicit), it's Reggie Willits' and Dino Ebel's fault that the umpires fucked up. Something tells me they wouldn't have come to the same conclusion if the tables had been turned.

The embarrassment continued in the top of the 8th when Shea Hillenbrand hit a slow grounder to third. The White Sox forced out Vlad at second, then threw to first for the double play, which Hillenbrand beat by about a step. It wasn't even close. He was called out.

What is it with umpires and White Sox/Angels games. Not only do the umpires continually fuck things up, but the Angels then get blamed. It was Josh Paul's fault for not tagging out a batter on the third strike that clearly never hit the dirt. It's Reggie Willits' fault for not lingering on third base longer. It's apparently not the umpires' fault for blowing the calls to begin with, and then compounding it by either lying blatantly about it on national television (Eddings) or tossing Mike Scioscia from the game (today's asshole Dowdy).

Kelvim Escobar was excellent all day, making only one mistake, a third inning high fastball on a 3-2 count that Darin Erstad deposited in the right field bleachers for an early White Sox lead. But Ztu and Vlad went back to back an inning later to tie the game, and a two out single from Cabrera in the top of the fifth gave the Angels the lead for good. Frankie recorded the last four outs, two by strikeout, for his eighth save.

Special congratulations to Brandon Wood for picking up his first hit and scoring his first run. And don't look now, but Gary Matthews is hitting .306 and starting produce every day.

Off to KC to hopefully take at least three and have a successful road trip.

Angels 3; White Sox 0; Ted Leo - Awesome

Missed most of tonight's game because I was at the Ted Leo and the Pharmacists concert. Dude can rock the house like no other, but I digress.

Here's the meat: Jered Weaver - 5.2 scoreless. Mr. McMillin, I believe the floor is yours. If you require any assistance, allow me:
  1. 5.2 innings and 107 pitches? You can't be successful if you keep that up!
  2. Five Ks? That's not even one per inning!
  3. I just can't see how a pitcher can be successful if he allows six hits in fewer than six innings. That looks like something Jeff would do.
But I kid Rob. I kid because I love.

And hey! Six runs is like, more than they had on the entire last road trip, right? And two homers in two games, neither by Vlad, that's gotta be a record!

Boy, I really hope they start hitting on the road soon.

Enjoy some Ted.