If you've ever doubted baseball is a funny game, let me introduce you to exhibit A...Ladies and gentlemen, Wade fu@kin' LeBlanc. It was just a couple weeks ago I wrote if the Angels are going to rely on LeBlanc's left arm to help get them to the playoff, the club was in a world of hurt. I was wrong. I repeat, I WAS WRONG. If the last two games are the only two good games LeBlanc pitches for the Angels ever again, I'm happy he made the trip to Anaheim. Thank you Wade.
On to Le Halolinks:
- Although home-field advantage throughout the playoffs is important, I don't think it's as important as we make it out to be in the Angels' case. The Halos are 45-32 on the road, compared to a fantastic 52-29 in Anaheim, yet what I think is more important about playing at home is Baltimore. With the Angels' starters tendencies to throw flyballs, playing in pitcher friendly Angels Stadium would be to their advantage if they face the Orioles in more hitter friendly Baltimore. Los Angeles Angels at Oakland Athletics - September 23, 2014 - MLB.com LAA Recap, "LeBlanc's win kept the Angels 2 1/2 games up on the Orioles for the best record in baseball and trimmed their magic number to lock up home-field advantage throughout the postseason to three. Seeding isn't manager Mike Scioscia's primary concern, though. His focus is on maintaining some semblance of momentum heading into the American League Division Series and trying to figure out what to do with his pitching. LeBlanc has made his case for cracking the Angels' postseason roster."
- AS I wrote above, even if LeBlanc never throws another pitch for the Angels, his is a great story: Angels' Wade LeBlanc makes pitch for playoff spot in 2-0 win over A's - LA Times, "Combined with his 5 1/3-inning scoreless effort last Thursday against Seattle, LeBlanc, who was designated for assignment three times this season — twice by the Angels — has thrown 10 2/3 scoreless innings in two starts, allowing eight hits, striking out four and walking one. With Shoemaker questionable for the division series because of a rib-cage strain and Hector Santiago getting shelled in his last two starts, LeBlanc has positioned himself to be considered for the playoff rotation. At the very least, he should earn a long-relief spot."
- And now he's in the conversation to make the playoff roster: Los Angeles Angels vs. Oakland Athletics - Recap - September 23, 2014 - ESPN, "His latest performance might have earned him a spot on the Angels' playoff roster, or at least made manager Mike Scioscia think hard about the decision. LeBlanc (1-1) ran his scoreless stretch to 15 2/3 innings over his last six outings in a 2-0 victory over Oakland on Tuesday night, dropping the Athletics into a tie with Kansas City for the AL's top wild card spot. "Any time players perform well, it's going to help you to be stronger and help you make decisions," Scioscia said. "We haven't made any decisions yet but these are two strong starts from Wade." LeBlanc allowed five hits in 5 1/3 innings for the AL West champions. LeBlanc is the second of three straight left-handers the Angels are throwing in this series." After shutting down A's, LeBlanc a new piece in playoff puzzle for Angels - The Orange County Register, "If Shoemaker isn’t ready for the playoffs – and he still hasn’t thrown off a mound – the Angels could be looking for someone to join Jered Weaver and inconsistent lefties C.J. Wilson and Hector Santiago. LeBlanc has put himself into the conversation, alongside Cory Rasmus. Rasmus has more sustained success in the majors this season, but LeBlanc can go deeper into a start."
- Good teams just find a way to win: MLB Recap - Los Angeles Angels at Oakland Athletics - Sep 23, 2014 - CBSSports.com, "Gordon Beckham homered for the division champion Los Angeles Angels, who dropped the A's into a tie for the top AL wild card with a 2-0 win Tuesday night. Gray fanned Mike Trout three times among his career-best 12 strikeouts, one month to the day after Jon Lester struck out the Angels slugger three times at the Coliseum. But Gray had nothing to show for it as Oakland was shut out for the seventh time since Aug. 1."
- Now if Hector Santiago could just figure a couple things out: Los Angeles Angels at Oakland Athletics - September 24, 2014 - MLB.com Preview, "Hector Santiago, who will toe the rubber for the Angels on Wednesday afternoon in the rubber match against the A's at O.co Coliseum, has recorded a total of nine outs in his last two starts. Immediately after his latest outing, he showered with his uniform on, shaved his head completely and shaved off his beard, leaving only a goatee. It was a cleansing method, if you will. "I'm a new guy, bro. I am a different breed. I am a hybrid," Santiago said." Change of approach didn't work for Angels' Santiago - The Orange County Register, "His last out was the result, he said, of trying to be more efficient with his pitches. "I had a stretch where I wasn’t (allowed to go past) 90 pitches, so I was trying to see if I could get through the sixth with 60 instead of 80," Santiago said. "I was trying to make better pitches early to get earlier outs." Santiago said he threw more two-seam fastballs instead of four-seamers, which is normally what pitchers do when they are trying to get ground balls. What he ended up with were a lot more hits."
- Neat-o: On deck: Angels at A's, Wednesday, 12:30 p.m. - The Orange County Register, "Did you know: Albert Pujols has 33 go-ahead RBI this season, most in the majors and one shy of the Angels record, set by Vladimir Guerrero in 2006."
- I'mma ruin your birthday!
First off, "Harrison"? Are his parents Indiana Jones fans? Paste eater. Second, you live 15 minutes from Angels Stadium and you're an A's fan. I hope your bike gets a flat tire. Boy writes to Billy Beane asking A's to 'play extra hard' on his birthday - Yahoo Sports, "In advance of Oakland Athletics fan Harrison Gomes turning 11 years old Tuesday, the young boy from Orange County, Calif. wrote a letter — not an email, an actual letter — to team president Billy Beane, and the club posted it on Instagram. This letter should be on display at the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. After introducing himself, noting that he was born the same day in 2003 that the A's clinched the American League West, Gomes made a polite request of Beane:
I live 15 minutes away from Angel Stadium and I would really like to stick it to the Angel fans at school. May you please tell the A's to play extra hard on my birthday. It would be a very great present. Sincerely, Harrison Gomes, a huge fan.
- This is Lyle Spencer:
He's seen over 4000 games. Angels put 'it factor' on display in win over A's - angels.com, "LeBlanc is the story of the game," Calhoun said. "That was an awesome game he pitched. He mixed his pitches well, kept them off balance. Just a great performance by Wade." LeBlanc, who was set free by both the Yankees and Angels this season, made it through 5 1/3 innings, lowering his ERA from 5.24 to 4.23. He yielded five hits and struck out 11 fewer men than Gray, but he minimized damage and showed a veteran's poise and resolve." It's actually a pretty good article. Check it out.
- I think we're all in agreement, Shoemaker is much more important to the Angels' postseason success, right? Clock is ticking for Shoemaker, Hamilton - angels.com, "Shoemaker, out since suffering a mild left oblique strain on Sept. 15, played light catch for the second straight day, "and again he's moving in the right direction," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said, adding that Shoemaker is now "symptom-free." The 27-year-old rookie is already guaranteed to not pitch again in the regular season and will have to progress to long toss before he can pitch off a mound, perhaps during one of the workout days early next week." Although having a healthy, hot Josh Hamilton would be nice too.
- I get the feeling Mike Trout thought it was cool: Trout meets Griffey to tape FOX Sports 1 show - angels.com, ""It's cool," said Trout, who earlier this year became the first Major League player since Griffey to get his own shoe from Nike. "Growing up watching him on TV, playing all his video games, it's pretty cool, just sitting down and talking to him. "We just went over some swings, went over some at-bats. I thought it was pretty cool just sitting down and talking to him."
- This makes sense: Angels may give Rasmus a shot at 2015 rotation - angels.com, "The 26-year-old right-hander has started each of the last five times Garrett Richards' spot has come up, but he hasn't been stretched out further than 59 pitches because he's worked mostly as a short-inning reliever the last three years. Turning Rasmus back into a starter "is no doubt going to be a conversation over the winter," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said on Tuesday." With the absence of any good starters on the verge of making the Angels' rotation in 2015, Rasmus could possibly make a decent #4 or 5.
- I fell bad for Josh Beckett: Animation: Dodgers' Josh Beckett waits for high five that never comes - Yahoo Sports, "For added laughs, check the lower-right portion of the screen for Juan Uribe, who got slapped playfully on the head by Hyun-jin Ryu but didn't like how it felt. The Dodgers act like 35 Three Stooges sometimes." And Uribe's Adrian Beltre imitation is pretty good too:Also, notice the guy in the red shirt and headphones. What's he doing with that red thing? I noticed a couple of weeks ago while at the Angels-Twins game there was a guy holding up red, yellow, and green cards between innings. Is that some sort of indicator of when the commercials are over, or something?
- My brother-in-law is from St. Louis and is a huge Cardinals' fan. I really hoping for a Cardinals-Angels World Series since I'd have an opportunity of going to at least one of the games. Plus, it'd give me the opportunity to have him act like this when the Angels win: Baseball's Best Fans, "The Cubs topped St. Louis tonight on a walk-off, leaving at least one Cards fan to tarnish some otherwise friendly confines."
- Hahrumpf: Derek Jeter's New York Yankees jersey the top-selling baseball jersey of all time - ESPN New York, ""Derek just resonates with all demographics, all across the country," Majestic president Jim Pisani said. "He's really the only jersey that you consistently see at opposing ballparks, which is why he has been at the top for the last decade."
- This could be the final nail in Seattle playoff coffin: Seattle Mariners vs. Toronto Blue Jays - Recap - September 23, 2014 - ESPN, "Seattle lost its fourth straight thanks to another poor effort by a starting pitcher. Mariners starters have failed to complete five innings in any of the past four games, allowing 27 earned runs over 14 2/3 innings in that span for an ugly ERA of 16.56."By the way, here are the current wild card standings for both leagues:
- There was a fight at Dodger Stadium last night, however this time it was on the inside:
"Both bullpens empty. That’s a show of… whatever." - Vin Scully. Vin is awesome.