Friday, October 16, 2009

Game 1 Debacle

Not much to say. The Angels just looked like they weren't ready for the series to start. It's almost like they were expecting a rain out, and were surprised when the game went off as planned.
  • The misplay in the first inning will be considered a tone-setter, but it was almost more of a "tone-identifier". Lackey's inability to retire Derek Jeter in the bottom of the first, and the bloop broken bat double by Johnny Damon were signs that things probably weren't going to go the Angels' way tonight.
  • Give all credit to CC Sabathia. It was clear from the first strike out of Bobby Abreu tonight that he had his good stuff, and it was going to be a struggle. At the very least, it was going to be a game in which the Angels could not afford to gift wrap runs for the Yankees like they did tonight.
  • The Yankees' fourth run was the result of a bad pick off throw by John Lackey, but a better question is why he was even worried about the runner. There were two outs, and Cabrera can run, but he only had 10 stolen bases all year. I'm not sure why Lackey was so pre-occupied with him.
  • The thought of Joe Saunders starting game two felt a lot better when I thought the Angels might win game one. Now they send a guy out to the mound who hasn't pitched in two weeks, and while he can dial it up to 94, he's essentially a feel pitcher. I'm not sure that's the best option for the Angels, but it will have to do. The question will be whether the offense can jump out and five him some early confidence.
  • Part of that offense is going to need to come from the top of the order. Chone Figgins is just killing the Angels in the lead off spot. He HAS to get on base.
  • A-Rod is a pussy.
  • I think Teixeira probably pulled his foot on the bunt by Hunter, but the Angels got those calls against the Red Sox, so it's hard to complain. I don't think it would have made much of a difference anyway.
  • The nice thing about not having home field is that you console yourself after two losses with the thought that you were supposed to lose those games on the road. That said, game two now become huge. The Angels have to at least put up a worthy effort.
  • The Angels have now lost five straight ALCS games, after winning four straight in 2002. On the plus side, they lost game one in the 2002 ALDS to the Yankees, and in the 2005 ALDS, also against the Yankees. They won both series.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

I Probably Just Jinxed Them

But I'll be in Anaheim if the Angels beat the Yankees, and if the World Series goes at least six games. Just got tickets for games six and seven.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Thoughts on Game 3 and the Series

  • I've said so many things and made so many casual predictions that I shouldn't get any credit for this. But something told me this was the year that everyone would basically give up and say that the Angels had no chance. With the pressure off, they'd win the series. Still, I probably wouldn't have put any money on it. And once the pundits started picking the Angels half the time, I became convinced that we'd see more of the same.
  • Going into the series, the consensus was the teams were fairly even, but the Sox had huge advantage in the bullpen. If they could make the series a battle of the bullpens, the Sox would win easily. In three games, the Angels bullpen allowed one run in six and a third innings. The Sox bullpen allowed seven runs in seven and a third innings, including five runs today. This probably speaks more the nature of the playoffs and small sample sizes than anything, but if you told me that the Angels pen would only give up one run over the first three games, I'd have a pretty good feeling about the series.
  • Angels starters deserve some credit for those good bullpen numbers. Both Lackey and Weaver worked into the eighth inning, and Kazmir lasted six today, even though he was a bit shakey. They really limited the potential for danger.
  • I can only say this from the perspective of an Angels fan, and fans of one of the 29 other teams will likely disagree, but I thought having Dave Henderson throw out the first pitch was low class. The wounds from that game aren't fully healed, and they run deeper than simply a lost baseball game. Hell, the Sox didn't even win the World Series that year. Maybe the Angels should have called up Ray Knight, Mookie Wilson, and the guy who sold coke to Len Bias to throw out the first pitch of a potential game five.
  • Bobby Abreu was amazing. He was on base nearly 70% of the time. He delivered big at bat after big at bat. He's arguably the best $5MM the Angels have ever spent.
  • On the other hand, Chone Figgins has been useless at the plate, or at least he was until his clutch walk in the ninth inning. But this is nothing new. Coming into today's game, he was hitting under .200 with an OBP barely above that. Not exactly what you expect or require from a table setter.
  • The ALCS doesn't start until Friday. I'm probably most concerned about Joe Saunders. There will be some question about the rotation for the next series, but John Lackey has to start the first game. You can't mess with the rotation just to get someone work. The only question worth asking is this: Who gives the Angels the best chance to win game one? The answer is John Lackey.
  • So it's on to New York, and again, I'm not going to make a prediction. But I'll say that the same hunch that made me think this might be the year that the Angels ended their Red Sox hex is also telling me that it's probably the season in which the Yankees end their Angels hex. Hope I'm wrong.
The Battles:
  • I think the starting pitching is a wash;
  • The Yankees have a better bullpen;
  • The Angels are better defensively;
  • The Angels have a better bench;
  • The Yankees have a better lineup.
The teams are fairly evenly matched. In fact, the teams have been virtually in a dead heat since July 1st. It's anyone's guess. Let's play ball.