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WeekEnd HaloLinks: LA Angels at Twins with only 4 weekends left!

Freese thawed his mega-slump, Trout made it through a game without a strikeout, Santiago got squeezed into losing his lead, and Scioscia pulled all the right moves in the 9th to scrape out a winning run and bump the AL West lead to 5 games.

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Hannah Foslien


Last night, for all the angst, is one of those games that ends up in the win column and, I suspect, will be of some value when we get to the final week or two of the season. So I'll take it. Sacrifice fly gives Halos the edge on Twins.  Give Alden Gonzalez his due for nailing the tightrope walked last night. "It's manager Mike Scioscia sticking with struggling third baseman David Freese and being rewarded with a leadoff double in the ninth inning of a tied game. It's John McDonald getting down a bunt despite a two-strike count. It's Chris Iannetta keeping it simple and elevating a fastball. It's Tony Campana, the September callup, coming off the bench and beating a laser throw home to score on a sacrifice fly. It's closer Huston Street putting on the first two batters, then having the composure to mow through the middle of the Twins' order to help the Angels capture a 5-4 victory on Thursday at Target Field."

Sure, it's easy to pick this one, but my most favoritist play in the whole game is Campana racing home with the winning score. I love speed. Speed kills! And Campana executed that responsibility brilliantly. Perfect timing, perfect delivery of his speed, perfect slide, and Twins catcher Kurt Suzuki was left standing there with the ball in his mitt and nothing to do with it.

And, hey, let's take a moment to recognize Scioscia and his handling of that 9th inning. His substitutions show why he has his job and we have ours. Look closely at the box. After Freese doubled he went to Campana as his speed burner, which paid off. But Campana was not going to play infield and Cron was put in to replace Campana after Campana scored. Cron plays 1st base, not 3rd, so we needed to take out the existing 1B, Navarro, and Sosh used the at-bat following Freese to insert McDonald to pinch hit for Navarro. Navarro is a lefty and Twins pitcher Glen Perkins is a lefty and we can go all righty-lefty whatever, but the play was a bunt anyway so who cares? Well, McDonald is the dude who can play the empty 3B. McDonald bunted Campana over to third successfully, and Iannetta then comes in to hit the sac fly as a pinch-hitter for Conger, Iannetta taking over behind the plate, of course. Then, Huston Street comes on for Joe Smith and closes out the game. All the building blocks fit together perfectly.

A win. I'll take it. 5 games up with 23 left to play. If the Angels just go 12-11 down the stretch, Oakland has to go 17-6 just to catch us. It's still possible, but that doesn't seem likely.


  • John McDonald: I don't remember watching John McDonald play for Cleveland, but I do remember seeing him in Anaheim wearing a Toronto uni and tearing up the infield on defense. McDonald, by himself, probably owns about 1/4 of all the most sparkling plays I have seen in person. He was the kind of guy who would make a play and cause me to react with the guilty pleasure of envy. As in, "If only we had a guy who could make plays like that!" These days, I am sure there is some Toronto Blue jay fan out there somewhere who now says to him or herself the same thing about Erick Aybar. I hope, then, that years from now that fan looks upon Aybar's final months with the same fondness as I do for McDonald. I'm glad he is getting a whiff of postseason play here in what may be his final season. He did play in two losing LDS rounds for Cleveland, 1999 and 2001, losing to Boston and then Seatlle 3 games to 2 in both cases.I hope he had fun on his way out the door.

  • Erick Aybar: Speaking of Aybar, are we taking for granted the brilliance of his defense or are we just all too delirious with his bat this season? Our littlest All-Star has already nabbed one Gold Glove (in 2011), and is completely on fire at the SS position this year. Right? Right?? You might be surprised to learn that this is, actually, the 3rd least productive year in his career. Now for the hilarity: even so, this season would rank 4th best in the defensive accomplishments of Derek Jeter! In 2004 Jeter was gifted the GG with a dWAR of -0.4, in 2005 he was awarded the GG with a dWAR of -1.9, and in 2006 he was handed the GG with a dWAR of -0.8, and in 2010 Jeter won the award with a -0.1 dWAR. So with his -0.3 in 2014, Jeter should be in line to trump Aybar once again.

  • David Freese: On the other end of the spectrum, I get the feeling that I am staring at The Shea Hillenbrand Story all over again, and Mike Scioscia is trolling me: "We know what David can do...Maybe he's not going to be as electric as he was three years ago in St. Louis, but he's a better player than he showed last year with his numbers and he's a better player (than what he's shown) up to this point this year." I know all players have slumps, and Freese chose a great time to snap out of his (however long it lasts). But I was surprised that I had to be told that he was 0-20 going into last night's game. I mean, when i don't even notice he's not hitting, not hitting must be normal.

  • Josh Hamilton: Hamilton is playing hurt again. This time it's a sore shoulder. "Hamilton said he got a cortisone shot after leaving Thursday’s game in the eighth inning. That will prevent him from playing Friday...Hamilton said it affects him hitting, playing defense and even running." So he won't be in the lineup tonight. Which means, I guess, that Hamilton is NOT playing hurt again. I suppose we should just get used to the idea that Hamilton is a day-to-day guy. For the next 3 weeks, AND the next 3 years.

  • Trout Porn: This is more of a drive-by than an in-depth hagiography, but it's hard not to perk up when one reads this deep look at Billy Beane's recent moves, and finds Beane tossing Trout a pretty stiff cocktail of respect and admiration: "They [LAA} have the best player who has ever walked on the planet." That is sure gonna make some enemies in and around the city of Detroit.

  • Rasmus Redux: It's official. Cory Rasmus will take the next start in Richards' slot that comes up on Saturday. What I find interesting is Mike Scioscia being open to let Rasmus go long if he has it in him. "We’ll let him go as far as he can. If he can get into the fourth inning, great. If he can get into the fifth, better yet. We’ll just see how he holds up." Is it just me, or does that sound more optimistic than how Sosh might be feeling about C.J. Wilson these days?


Friday Featured Factoid: Matt Shoemaker ERA Trend.  This is an interactive chart, so run your cursor over it and have some fun.


This Date In Baseball History: 1914 - Babe Ruth, 19 years old and playing for the AAA Providence Grays, pitches a 9-0 shutout. But, most importantly, he hits the very first home run of his professional career, and the only one as a Minor Leaguer...........1918 - Now with the Red SoxBabe Ruth pitches the Sox to a 1-0, 6 hit, victory over the Chicago Cubs in the opening game of the World Series...........1954 - Joe Bauman, playing in Class C for the Roswell Rockets, hits his 72nd home run of the season. Bauman will play his entire career, but his 72 home runs will remain as the single season pro record until Barry Bonds hits 73 in 2001...........1960 - Diomedes Olivo comes in as relief pitcher for the Pirates, and pitches 2 innings of shutout baseball. In so doing, at the age of 41, Olivo becomes the oldest rookie in National League history...........1971 - 21-year-old J.B. Richard debuts as a rookie for the Astros, and pitches a complete game 5-3 victory over the Giants, striking out 15............1989 - Rookie Deion Sanders homers for the Yankees. Five days from now, as an NFL rookie, Sanders will return the very first punt he touches 8 yards for a TD for the Atlanta Falcons against the Los Angeles Rams............1995 - Cal Ripken ties Lou Gehrig's career mark for most consecutive games at 2,130...playing against the California Angels...............2010 - Bill "Spaceman" Lee becomes the oldest pitcher to earn a win when, at the age of 63, he pitches Brockton Rox to a 7-3 win over the Worcester Tornadoes in a Can-Am League contest. (Lee will best his own record 2 years later, at 65).............2010 - The Twins defeat the Rangers 6-5, based in large part to the final out being recorded by the Rangers third base coach when he is called for interference for making contact with base-runner Michael Young. Young had rounded 3rd base and, celebrating too soon, slapped hands with Dave Anderson before returning to the bag.


  • Replay Physics: Bookmark this link. Please. The Physics of Replay Reviews.  It will serve you well for years to come, I promise. Every time you hear or see a sports conversation meander into the realm of judgement, whether human or technological, being able to recall some of the factoids in this article will help frame your perspective of the problem at hand. "On a close play at first base, the ball has about two feet between images and the runner has covered six inches. These numbers alone explain why the umps usually have it right when you see the replay. They have a surprising amount of room for error that cannot be detected by typical cameras." And, to summarize later: "...there are three physical limitations for replay reviews:...The 60th of a second between video images....The time to construct a single video image, the shutter speed, which can vary....The limited number of camera angles."  There are real limits at play with both approaches (human and tech), and these limits have both meaning and impact. Some limits will not be overcome. Mostly, those are limits of the human species. Most technological limits can be overcome, given enough time and money. There might not be sufficient time for you, or the money might not be worth the extra degree of fineness in judgement to MLB, so you who can read this today might not ever witness a Utopian era of baseball when everybody gets everything right, every time. So to be educated here is valuable, because this is an aspect of our sport that will, from your perspective, might always be undergoing an evolution.

  • Stadium Tech: This just pisses me off. Any owner spending time at some symposium bragging about "The Stadium of the Future" is a total gasbag. What "future" is he talking about? Hopefully this upcoming Sunday afternoon! Twenty-four years ago - 24! - I worked on a team of 4 technologists who created what was then a radical new business model for office computing, and we went from zero to done in 9 months flat. That included test, development, proof of concept, engineering, vendor selection, procurement, deployment, installation, training and cleanup. And it involved 15 different office locations in 6 different countries on 3 continents. 4 people. 9 months.  And today, all these years later, that company is still at the forefront of tech in their market vertical. Meanwhile, in that same amount of time (since 1990), quoting the article: "there have been more than 325 sports/recreation facilities built or modernized at a total cost of $3 trillion" and I still struggle to get a basic cell signal at a game. By now, things like non-blocking wifi and stadium apps for ticketing and purchasing should be old news. Ancient history. Not "the future".

  • The Worm Turns: Whaaa..? The NY Post publishing even a few words dissing the Jeter-jerkoff being dumped on the public? Is it really getting to be too much even for New Yorkers? (Scroll down to "Selling out the Yankees' legacy").  The two best parts: "...a big-ticket private autograph session money grab and a grab every dime, one-size-fits-all flea-market tube socks kind of sell, neither of which well serve what has for years been sold to the public as "legendary Yankees class" in the living embodiment of Jeter...and when tickets to Derek Jeter Day became the property of the Yankees’ official broker/scalper the instant the game was announced, there’s a desperate, dubious and sad sell tacked to everything...'

  • First Losers: The Gulf widens. The Texas Rangers beat out the entirety of the American League by becoming the first team to the bench for 2014. Done. Finito. Irrelevant. "E". With Houston hot on their heels, tied with Boston and Minnesota for the next Biggest Loser, things really must be bigger in Texas.


Did I miss the memo? Did Derek Jeter die or something? I wonder if Carpino is going to have the Angels wear a Derek Jeter patch for the rest of the season, too. By the way, I'm not the only one who finds this to be odd...........Trout. Fishing...........As always, The Worst of The Best Wildest Swings of the Month is super fun stuff............I say, why not spend your money to have a custom printed jersey that displays snark? The alternative, wearing some other dude's name as your identity, is a pretty odd thing to do when you think about it. (The story would be even more fun if the fan that the writer - Matt Snyder - is mocking would turn out to be a retired NFL linebacker, or a former active Marine having served in Iraq, or works 60 hour work weeks as a baker battling cancer or something).........Folks, seriously, never under-estimate the dangers of your own bathroom. A coworker recently lost 3 front teeth, and it turns out that this is how we all lost Bob Welch............Leave it to the Brewers to launch Get-Your-Own-Beer service...........Interesting. A direct correlation between the increasing strikeout rates and the use of PitchF/X to monitor umpires. The rule book strike zone rewards pitchers...........Lyle Spencer, unchanging as ever.  Peter Bourjos is, by the way, has an OPS+ of only 84...........Lyle Spencer, stupidly, and gloriously, ignorant as ever. "Analytics crowd" doesn't hate bunting and playing for winning run late in a game. That's when you do it! But thanks for playing the straw man card and reminding us all why fans we are better off producing our own content...........Here is one guy doing his part to upgrade the stadium tech experience!...........Dodger Dog eating days of summer. By the foot long.


And now, being the full service weekend linkage institution that we are, here is the obligatory moment we take out of each Friday...for beer...

First off, apologies to all for missing the BaconFest in San Diego last weekend. I have been told that the microbrew list was impressive.  And, fair warning to all. Prepare thyselves. Oktoberfests commence next weekend!!

Friday: The Huntington Beach Food, Art & Music Festival runs all weekend............The LA County Fair is now open, as well.

Saturday: California Beer Festival hits San Dimas! (I have two VIP media eTickets if anyone is interested. I was hoping to get them earlier to put up a quiz context, but I didn't get them until Thursday evening. Any takers? Email me.).............Tiburon Taps Beer Festival is also taking place in Tiburon............And Sacramento is the locale for Zpizza Tap Room Grand Opening.............The Huntington Beach Food, Art & Music Festival continues............The LA County Fair continues, as well.

Sunday: The Huntington Beach Food, Art & Music Festival continues............The LA County Fair continues, as well.

Stay safe, everyone!