At more than one point tonight, I had to double check the lunar calendar to make sure what I was seeing on the television couldn't be blamed on your typical full moon fever. There was a bit of everything: errors a plenty, homerun robbing grabs, close calls, ejections, earned runs, unearned runs, and a other various forms of baseball entertainment of which us fans can confidently say "Well, you don't see that every day." The game was played by the Angels and the Rangers, but it would be the officiating that would ultimately play the biggest role in this clash of AL West rivals. More specifically, it was umpire Tim McClelland who seemed like he was playing the part of the corrupt, unpredictable gumshoe caught in the middle of a turf war, playing both sides in a game of wits and shady underhand moves. No, it wasn't the plot of the Coen Brothers' sequel to Blood Simple. It was just a crazy, cowboy-hat-giveaway Saturday night at The Big A.
For the third year in a row, the Angels PR team decided that TrAdition was not only represented in the baseball record books, but also in the record book of the truly trivial, bizarre or humorously specific. Yes, The Guinness Book Of World Records. In 2010, the stadium faithful went for the record of Most People Pretending To Be That Ex Girlfriend Of Yours That Was Always Cold. It went over well enough that the next year, they decided to go for Most Gimps From Pulp Fiction. So that brings us to tonight, when the sold out crowd(and biggest crowd of the 2012 season, so far) went for the record of Most Brett Michaels Impersonators In One Place. The record was broke, and with that the crowd raised their free cowboy hats around in the air like they had all just won their first prison rodeo. It was a surreal sight to see, and maybe there was something in that contagious fervor that spread onto the field of play, because the game would only get more wild from that point on.
The season's second starting pitching matchup between C.J. Wilson and his former team's new import, Yu Darvish, went more accordingly than the last. This time, we got to see both pitchers square off in scoreless innings while not only working against the opposition's batters, but also dealing with a strike zone the size of a piece of Texas Toast. This was due to the night's home plate ump, Tim McClelland. He made the pitchers work for their outs, which lead to some interesting early jams, especially for CJ, who seemed to get out of each one with a impeccably timed double play each inning. Going into the bottom of the sixth inning, there was no score and few hits. But then then things got REALLY interesting.
In the bottom of the sixth, the Angels got one run off of 0 hits, 2 errors, a stolen base and 3 strikeouts. That was, in a nutshell, the type of game this was. That run was scored by Albert Pujols, who in pure Scioscialistic manner, tried his hardest to manufacture a run off of an ill played Mike Napoli error. Pujols was actually out when he pushed his luck by going to second, but in a night in which the umpires would put the screws to us so often at the plate, we should just shut up and take the gifts that the Baseball Karma Gods give back to us. Pujols would eventually score on a rare Adrian Beltre error. The wheels were beginning to come off.
After the Rangers tied it up at 1 run a piece in the seventh, the Angels received even more gifts in the form of runs. The wackiness began with Mike Trout getting on base due to an infield single in which Elvis Andrus fielded the ball and basically stopped playing, not even throwing to first. See, he thought it hit Erick Aybar. So he just stopped cold in his tracks and stood there looking at his watch, waiting for a call that would never come. That was Rangers meltdown number one. After Alberto Callaspo would knock in Aybar for a 2-1 lead, Mark Trumbo would then hit a sacrifice fly that would score Mike Trout from 3rd base. This play was so close that not even replay would have really helped all that much. The Rangers had meltdown number 2 right here. Yorvit Torrealba would be tossed, Ron Washington was livid. The Angels had a 3-2 lead, and from there it was only a matter of weathering the remainder of the storm.
The Angels have won this series, and have won 10 out of the last 11. When the game gets crazy, these guys know how to walk through the fire. Lets go out tomorrow and get that sweep.
And now, it's time for John Travolta's Urban Cowboy Victory Shufflebot: