Rise and shine. Saturday morning found the Los Angeles Angels at Tropicana field hoping to continue the cool off of a Tampa team that had won seven of its last 10 games. According to the stands, all 78 Tampa Bay fans were on hand for this sparkling pitching performance.
It was obvious early on that this was not to be a Saturday morning slug fest. Both James Shields and Joel Pineiro mowed down the respective batters they faced with devastating efficiency. It was definitely all quiet on the eastern front until three straight singles by the actual 'heart' of our lineup. Hopefully Mike Scioscia noticed that Hank Conger provided one of those hits when he was staring into Mathis' eyes in the dug out. This rally would soon be tempered by two straight swinging strikeouts by Peter Bourjos and Alexi Amarista. It's a shame we're still constantly relying on our rookies and the bottom of the order to carry us to the playoffs. I could have sworn we had some veterans, they have just been difficult to find as of late.
After another batch of innings that were more silent than Greg Anderson on the witness stand, Peter Bourjos led off the inning with a single, only to be caught stealing after a bad jump and even better throw to second by Rays catcher Kelly Shoppach. This guy has two strikes against him in my opinion, his name is Kelly, and he has a lower batting average than Vernon Wells. Sorry Kelly.
The butter was hard, and the jello was jigglin, that is until a lead off double by Torii Hunter in the top of the ninth inning. Instead of failing as usual, Vernon "Big Splat" Wells did his best Tonya Harding impression and rung a hard grounder off the wicket of Kyle Farnsworth moving over Torii Hunter to third with one out. This was quickly followed by a grounder to right by Howie Kendrick that was bobbled by Ben Zobrist scoring Hunter, who used to seem a lot faster on the base paths. Erick Aybar then got on base with a swinging bunt and then headed onto third on pick-off throw that someone ended up near one of the only attendees at the game.
Unfortunately, Hank Conger was unable to get Erick Aybar home and flied out to end the threat. The bottom of the 9th quickly found Eric Aybar making an amazaing acrobatic play at short but he was unable to get out the speedy Elliot Johnson on a perfect throw to first. With Elliot on first, the Concussion of Sam Fuld was not to be on a deflected bunt into his forehead that likely gave Rays fans a scare. Rodney somehow got Upton to ground out stranding a man on second and ending the bottom of the 9th.
Let's Play Two!
Fernando Rodney started off the the top of the 10th inning by giving up a double to Matt Joyce. After getting hit HARD left and right, he finally dismissed the Tampa fans by letting Joyce score from third on a wild pitch that probably would have been called a strike if Shields had thrown it.
Joel pitched great and will certainly help anchor down the number 3 spot in our rotation. The Angels had plenty of opportunities to win this game but couldn't capitalize. It's fitting this game was lost on a pitch thrown by Rodney. For whom the bell tolls Rodney, it shall soon toll for thee.