There is a reason Scot Shields hasn't made a start since 2003. Joel Pineiro was a late scratch this afternoon because of a left oblique strain, leaving the ball to--how can I say this politely--the struggling former setup man, who was also formerly a starter. Unfortunately, it didn't go well. Shields gave up two solo homers and loaded the bases before Mike Scioscia took the ball back with two outs in the second inning.
The middle innings gave some hope to those of us who have now given up on 2010. Francisco Rodriguez and Rich Thompson, two minimum wage relievers fresh from Salt Lake, pilloried the Red Sox for 5 1/3 innings of one-run ball, striking out seven while walking only one. However, Josh Beckett had little trouble holding down an Angel lineup including four middle infielders, two senior citizens, a light-hitting third-string catcher, and big slugging Reggie Willits. The Angels were fortunate to scratch out even three runs on a series of defensive misplays.
After the great work from the scrubs pitching for free, Fernando Rodney was asked to actually earn his $6 million paycheck by protecting a 3-3 tie in the seventh inning. Walk, walk, infield single (misplayed by Callaspo), grand slam. Just like that, Mephistopheles's previously charmed ERA normalized at a level commensurate to his skill, or rather, his lack thereof. At least it was satisfying to watch Michael Kohn record his first big league strikeout by hanging a golden sombrero on Big Juicin' David Ortiz.
It's about time to face it. The Angels have now fallen back to .500 after 104 games. They're in third place. They've been outscored by their opponents. They have three starters left with Pineiro possibly missing the rest of the season. Their best hitter broke his leg. The bullpen is a disaster. And so on. Do we have to wait until they are mathematically eliminated to start thinking about next season? Derrek Lee actually did the Angels a favor.