New York, New York, a Helluva Town, the Angels Were Up, Then the Angels Were Down

The Angels’ Crazy Four Corners Interleague-ean Baseball Odyssey, Stop #2: New York. Photo by This is a very simple game...

Friday, the Angels reached stop number two on the Four Corners Road Trip and returned to Interleague play with a bang. Joel Pinero notched his 100th career win as the Angels bested the Mets in a tight four to three victory. Both teams played well and the outcome was a question mark right up to the last pitch. The Angels bats were out in full force and clutch with men in scoring position. Torii Hunter, Maicer Izturis and Howie Kendrick all had a multiple hit game. Mark Trumbo, Peter Bourjos and Vernon Wells also contributed to the hit parade. Most importantly, every time the Mets scored, the Angels were able to score in response. That hasn’t exactly been a given this season, a big part of the reason we’re still below .500.

The defense was pretty good as well. Another highlight reel Bourjos catch up against the wall in center. A couple of great plays at first. We have got to work on keeping the other guys from stealing though, even though players like Jose Reyes are smart, fast and dangerous on the base paths. Fortunately, Pinero had a good start and kept the sinker ball down and the Bullpen did their thing with only minimal hiccoughs. Jordan Walden had us all on pins and needles when he walked the first two batters, but then he let the ice water back into his veins and struck out the next three in a row to earn the 16th save of his rookie season.

So what happened Saturday? Well, let’s just say there are a lot of very satisfied goats walking around the Bronx right now. (Note to self, “if my husband laughs” is probably not the best barometer there is for appropriate. ;) ) Without the benefit of the DH option, in order to get Bobby Abreu back into the lineup (good idea), we put our weakest outfield configuration on the field (bad idea). Abreu, Wells and Hunter all alone in that giant Citi Field outfield without Bourjos’ speed? Very bad idea.

Then, Russell Branyan replaced Mark Trumbo at first in the starting lineup for reasons unbeknownst to me – can’t we declare Branyan a cheap, failed experiment already? – and Erick Aybar proceeded to have one of those, fortunately rare, games when you wonder where his head is at and what joker oiled his glove with Vaseline. The official record shows only one error, but I watched every play and the Mets scorekeepers were extremely generous in this regard. Dan Haren had a bad night and the umpire’s strike zone was doing him no favors. And with few exceptions, the team could not hit – Mark Trumbo, a late innings replacement going two for two with one deep homerun to right center, was our only highlight.

“Which is more important, a strong offense or a strong defense?” is one of those questions whose answer varies with every team and every season. For the Angels this season, the offense doesn’t seem to be in a position to weigh in on that argument no matter what tweaks Scioscia might make to the lineup. In this situation, every single run is a big deal. Ours and theirs. If we aren’t going to give the pitchers run support then we absolutely have to put the best possible defense out on the field every day. No more Branyan  at first and leaving speed out of the outfield…oh, and when Aybar is having one of those games? Pull him. So, on to the rubber match, where I hope to see a lineup that reflects our best defense, and then on to Miami: 

The Angels "Four Corners Road Trip" takes the team on an 8,000 mile trek across the United States and back again both vertically and horizontally, as helpfully illustrated by our oh-so-creative kitchen table and Ticket to Ride visual aid...Yes, you would be correct. This trip will take the Angels nowhere near Berlin. ;) Photo by This is a very simple game...

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Happy Father’s Day to all of the wonderful dads out there, and especially to mine! 

Daddy, softball coach, friend, confidant, giver of hugs, encourager of dreams and occasional shoulder to cry on, like most fathers, mine has worn many, many hats, and all of them much better than he will ever know. My father gave me my head for trivia, my irreverent sense of humor, my stubborn streak, my love of music, John Steinbeck and Mark Twain, my blue eyes and freckles and so much more. He taught me the value of working hard, the power of a good laugh and if the ball falls into your glove, never look surprised. And my love for the game? Well, as with so many things that are wonderful, I owe that to both my father and my mother. Thank you does not even begin to cover it, but it will have to do.

13 Comments

I watched last night’s game, and boy, did Aybar look helpless. But these are the Mutts, who are the butt of everyone’s jokes around here…whenever they win, I chalk it up to a mixup by the baseball gods :)

C – Yeah, it makes no sense. Some games he’s amazing, other games it’s amazing to think he made it to the majors playing like that. Fortunately, the latter happens only a handful of times a seaon. And, hey, the best defense was on the field today and we won despite the badly chosen reliever.

– Kristen

I had to do a double take at the Haren game. I was like, there’s now way Haren’s getting lit up like that! (Wrong)…. “if the ball falls into your glove, never look surprised”… That is an awesome quote! I don’t have kids, but I may use this on my MLB-bound nephews someday ;-)
–Jeff

Jeff – It was ugly. The Mets base runners took that pause in Haren’s delivery and ran with it, again and again and again. Oh well, I expect he will come back and wale on the Dodgers to make things right. Yeah, I love that quote from my dad, and he had to say it a lot to us back in the t-ball and pitch-t days. Of course, if you successfully teach your nephews the Lincecum/Haren/Wainwright hybrid pitching style they won’t have to worry about catching many baseballs.

– Kristen

I think if I had a dollar for every time our pitchers lost a game due to a lack of run support, I could practically buy the White Sox a Jose Bautista.

Amen, sister, about putting your best defense on the field. I am not in the majority, but I fully believe, if you’ve got five compentent but unspectacular bats in your line-up surrounding your typical run producers, that you gain at least as much from somone who can prevent a run from scoring (ie: your Bourjos and my duo of Brents) as someone who might hit slightly more often, but doesn’t contribute significantly to your defense.

But, I like watching good defense. So, I am biased and no one will ever convince me otherwise. :)
-Keleigh

Keleigh – I love great defense too. I’m a small ball girl at heart – stellar defense, situational hitting, manufactured runs and good pitching and I’m in baseball fan heaven.

– Kristen

My dad was never much of a baseball fan before I came along but he learned the spot just so he could watch it with me. He took me to my first game in ’93 and I still remember it like it was yesterday.

http://bluejaysnest.mlblogs.com/

My dad was never much of a baseball fan before I came along but he learned the spot just so he could watch it with me. He took me to my first game in ’93 and I still remember it like it was yesterday.

http://bluejaysnest.mlblogs.com/

Buejaysnest – That is such a sweet story. I’ll bet your dad remembers the first game just as fondly as you do.

– Kristen

I’ve watched several of Haren’s games this season, I knew runs were hard to come by, but I didn’t realize it was this bad. Of the 53 qualifying AL starting pitchers, Weaver is 51st in run support with 3.87/gm and Haren in 52nd with 3.83/gm.

Russel – I did not know the exact stat, but having watched these two run starved pitchers’ every start, I believe those numbers. Sad, but true. And yet Weaver still has nine wins. With adequate run support he would easily have had 11 or 12 by now.

– Kristen

I’m getting a kick out of your location shots. Amongst the more obvious Statue of Liberty and Beastie Boys, I wonder how many people realized the beverage in a glass is a Manhattan? (I had a great-aunt who drank these all the time; never actually tried one myself) So, was yours real, and did one of you drink it?? Or was it a stunt double? ;-)
Sue

Thanks Sue! We had fun setting up those shots. Yay! I was wondering if anyone would get the drink. It was a real Manhatten and, like the In n’ Out burgers from L.A., was well and thoroughly enjoyed post close-up. Manhattens are delicious! :)

– Kristen

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