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Thursday Halolinks: Angels continue to let us down

Will the Angels ever get above .500, or are they determined to continually break our hearts?

Nationals celebrate win by giving homeless man a bath.
Nationals celebrate win by giving homeless man a bath.
Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Buttercup (v) - to build someone up, just to let them down.  For example, "I was sure the Angels were going to get over the .500 mark last night, but once again I was buttercupped when they lost the game in the ninth."

You know what's weird?  As I watched the ninth inning unfold, I just knew...KNEW that was going to happen.  I'm an optimistic sort, typically a glass half full kind of guy, but the feeling that a win was not going to happen was strong with this one.  The force was not with me.  It was a trap!

  • Okay, so the night started off okay: Los Angeles Angels at Washington Nationals - April 23, 2014 -  "Jered Weaver pitched six innings of one-run ball for the second straight time, lowering his ERA from 5.79 to 4.11 in that span. And Mike Trout turned in a couple of key plays against Bryce Harper, taking away at least one RBI from the Nationals' phenom with a diving catch in the first, then beating Harper's throw home while scoring all the way from first on Albert Pujols' double in the sixth. Erick Aybar then added an RBI single, David Freese scored on a wild pitch, Trout drove in a ninth-inning run, and Michael Kohn and Joe Smith locked it down in the seventh and eighth, paving the way for Frieri to record the final three outs."  Heck, even David Freese hit his first double of the season...and then: Angels fall to Washington Nationals, 5-4, as closer falters -  "Frieri is 0-2 with a 9.35 earned-run average and two blown saves in 10 games this season, and he's given up five home runs in 82/3 innings, a pace even Joe Blanton couldn't keep up with."  And just like that, the game was over and the Halos were no longer at the even point, but one game below .500.
  • So who's the closer going forward?  Frieri again can't close as Angels blow three-run lead in 9th - The Orange County Register.  "Manager Mike Scioscia, while conceding that Frieri has had some issues that he needs to correct, said he is not ready to make a change. It would be unusual for a manager to announce such a change 10 minutes after a game anyway. Frieri’s struggles obviously led to the question of whether he should remain the closer. Joe Smith, the heir apparent, has not allowed a run in 10 of his 11 outings. Michael Kohn has pitched 9 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings. Salas has allowed one run over his last eight innings. Kevin Jepsen has not allowed a run since opening day, a span of 6 2/3 innings over eight games."  Basically, anyone one of those guys has been doing better than Frieri, but as of last night, Scioscia is going to stick with the guy who's giving up the long ball.  Typical.
  • Yeah, this happened when the game was new, when the club still had a chance to win. Mike Trout robs Bryce Harper with impressive diving catch - Yahoo Sports.  "It happened in the first inning with Harper hitting and two Nationals on base. Harper drilled a sinking line drive in Trout's direction that appeared destined to fall and perhaps give Washington an early lead. However, Trout charged in from deep center field and extended full out to make a diving catch, robbing Harper of a hit and Washington the chance for a huge first inning.  " 
  • Have you noticed the unusual amount of defensive shifts?  Slump City: Why Does the 2014 MLB Season Suddenly Feel Like 1968?.  "The second factor is the rise of defensive shifts. Baseball Info Solutions tracks all manner of defensive data, including team-by-team shift totals and the impact those shifts have on batting averages. In 2011, teams executed 2,357 shifts, including Ted Williams Shifts (three infielders on one side of second base) and Partial Ted Williams Shifts (at least two infielders significantly out of their normal fielding positions or an infielder — usually the second baseman — 10-plus feet into the outfield). In 2012, that number nearly doubled, to 4,577. Another big spike occurred in 2013, with the total number of shifts climbing to 8,134. We’re on pace for a 57 percent surge in 2014, with the total number of shifts projected to be 12,737 by year’s end."  So why aren't player making adjustments and play against the positioning.  Like maybe laying down a bunt?  Ibanez working on bunting against shift -  "If you're a golfer and you hit it 400 yards, doesn't mean you don't have to practice a sand wedge," Scioscia said. "There are things Raul will have to do in a game. If we need a baserunner in the eighth inning, and if he can just put the bunt down and walk to first base, that's a very high percentage play for him to get on base."  No, shit.
  • This was weird, but Matt Williams seems to be covering his young player's ass: Matt Williams: No problem with Bryce Harper's two-strike bunting -  "This past Saturday, Harper was taken out of the game after six innings for not running hard to first base against the Cardinals. This time, Williams defended Harper. "He was safe at first base. That's all I care about," Williams said. "We are not asking him to go 100 percent all the time -- as fast as he could possibly go, every single moment. Not everybody does. But what we expect is for him to give us a chance, and he gave us a chance on that play. The ball was mishandled by Albert and [Harper] kicked it in gear and got on first base. That's all I care about."
  • Soon to be appearing on eBay:
  • What an idiot: Yankees’ Michael Pineda ejected from loss to Red Sox after pine tar discovered on neck - NY Daily News.  "Pineda, now a "man of (foreign) substance" two times over, was ejected in the second inning of the Yanks’ 5-1 loss to the Red Sox after plate umpire Gerry Davis dabbed his finger in the glistening stuff on Pineda’s neck at the request of Sox manager John Farrell. Pineda, who admitted the stuff was pine tar, faces a suspension that could be as long as eight or 10 games, although MLB officials won’t decide on the penalty until they’ve digested the umpires’ report." 
  • I like these types of stories:
  • Mark Trumbo of Arizona Diamondbacks to miss extended time with stress fracture in foot - ESPN.  ""The plantar (fasciitis) at times has been pretty bad but manageable," Trumbo said. "That's what you have to do. You've got to earn a living and play. This was to the point where I severely had to compensate running-wise to the point where I probably wouldn't be much of an asset on either side." Trumbo suffered a stress fracture to his right foot at the end of the 2011 season and needed 5½ months to heal. He does not expect to need as much recovery time with this injury."
  • This is classic.  What?  You have a signed document giving you the right to the view?  Screw you, we don't care, we're MLB!  Bud Selig sides with Chicago Cubs ownership in disagreement with rooftop owners - ESPN Chicago.  "Like Cubs owner Tom Ricketts, Selig believes the team should be able to do what they want with the park despite a contract previous ownership signed with rooftop owners." 
  • Sorry, Chicago—Los Angeles Was Home to the First Wrigley Field.  "Though it had been open since 1914, Chicago's historic stadium was still known as Cubs Park on September 29, 1925, when the Los Angeles Angels dedicated the original Wrigley Field with a 10-8 victory over the San Francisco Seals. It would be more than a year before the Chicago park also became Wrigley Field on December 3, 1926. William Wrigley, Jr., who owned the minor-league Angels in addition to the major-league Cubs, spared no expense in erecting the ballpark that first bore his name. Built for a then-extravagant $1.5 million, L.A.'s Wrigley Field was a modern masterpiece: fireproof, all steel-and-concrete, room for 30,000 fans, with a double-decked grandstand and a nine-story clock tower behind home plate."
  • Oldest Former MLB Player Dies At 102.  "Conrado "Connie" Marrero died today in Cuba, just two days shy of his 103rd birthday. The former Washington Senator was the oldest living big-league ballplayer. Marrero, a junk-throwing righty, was a star in Cuba before signing with Washington in 1950 at the age of 38. He had a decent five seasons for some terrible Senators teams, but was known more for his omnipresent cigar, his broken English, and his fire-hydrant physique."
  • Morales seen as increasingly likely to wait to sign until after draft -  "Some teams have been in contact with Morales in recent weeks (the Orioles are believed to be one), and while a pre-draft signing is still possible, waiting until after the June 5-7 draft could open the field of interested teams to include some of the many that stand to lose a first-round draft choice should they sign him before the draft."