Albert Pujols saw a sharp liner bounce off his glove in the bottom of the ninth inning of a tie game with a man on base and that man just kept running and running and ran all the way home.
If this were a nursery rhyme it would end with something good happening, so even though the Angels blew the game, their were multiple silver linings to make fans believe in this team.
In the third inning Chris Iannetta got the first Angels hit and would have scored from 1B on a Mike Trout bash to the wall but the spin of the ball off the wall sent it into the stands and that was a ground rule double. Erick Aybar stranded them both with a two-out ground-out.
Reds starter Mat Latos struck out the side in the fourth inning. The K looking to Josh Hamilton with a full count was brilliant placement coupled with what looked like Hambone laying off with expectations of walking while the ball was halfway to the plate. This came after toying with Albert Pujols and was followed by three gutless whiffs from Mark Trumbo.
C.J. was perfect thru three, throwing only thirty pitches but it crumbled fast in the fourth when he walked two with one out and compensated by putting the ball in the fattest fat part of the plate. 34 pitches later it was 4-0 Reds and could have, should really, been more. Jepsen was warming up then, so early, revealing a little info on Scioscia's bullpen usage this season: "Co-starring Kevin Jepsen as Jason Bulger!"
Has Howie Kendrick ever hit a ball as far as he did in the fifth inning? The Angels first run almost reached the aurora borealis beyond the centerfield wall. Alberto Callaspo followed with a blast that was a foot way from being a solo home run. Coupled with Trout's oops-ground-rule-double that could have been three runs right there.
Ryan Ludwick's replacement, Chris Heisey, got hit in the face stealing 2B - Almost had two Reds down in two games there.
Alberto Callaspo would not be denied a homerun tonight and made the game 4-3 in the top of the seventh. JB Shuck got his first hit as an Angel, a pinch hit to extend the seventh, only to see Mike Trout get robbed of an AB by the home plate umpire unconscionably fattening the strike zone beyond the black of the plate. It is one thing to give Latos the benefit of close outside pitches after being around the plate all night but Bumblefug the generic reliever should not have the courtesy transferred to his fat lap. But Trout did take the first pitch - a fat strike that he could have driven and if the anti-saber Cabrera-loving umps have it in for Mike, he will have to adjust taking that first pitch. Great art defeats the predictable and Trout is the closest thing to Pablo Picasso the major leagues.
The home plate umpiring was a primer in pitch framing. The issue with privileging pitch-framing as a skill is that the man Mike Scioscia championed for it, Jeff Mathis, wasn't any good while Jose Molina, the modern master of the science, was traded away, so to point to pitch framing is a way to let the anachronistic player evaluation skills of the Soth to take charge - and we just gave away three seasons doing that.
Kevin Jepsen was blistering in relief of a shaky Sean Burnett in the seventh and Garret Richards was fine in the eighth.
Downs hit the first batter he faced. There was no silver lining there. Albert didn't get a ball that most 1B in the league also probably don't get, but it is the letting the ball get passed him that cost the game. Sad as lat year's Angels would have folded up behind 4-1 and to see the team tie it and threaten is inspiring. If history proves that I was grasping for straws this early, so be it. If they win it all I spotted the gritty gut chemistry that coagulated into a championship.