Matt Shoemaker is a man unchained from reality...a grizzled, weathered piece of baseball machinery who has nothing left to lose, facing down a bullpen befuddlement and pitching his guts out in the process. He is a man above whatever order or arcane compulsions Mike Scioscia adheres to, yet he is not a man that can do much about it. Just a beard, glistening with sweat and Astros tears, throwing rocks and leaving batters clutching their sticks, for they have seen death and embarrassment, and he hath The Cobbler. The off-speed stuff...the speed stuff that is off the charts...the action and mechanics and the trusting of stuff, percolating and gestating in a bearded man’s arm, the worst nuking the city of Houston has received since Independence Day. This is all to say that Matt Shoemaker left it all on the field named after orange juice, and it was a beautiful, yet futile appeal to sense and appreciation of the pitching arts; it was an outing to hang his sweaty cap on, and wherever the rosin shall fall come time for Weaver The Younger’s return, he knows his soul and drive will have found respite in knowing he gave it his absolute 100% best shot. That is a pitcher you want on your team, one way or another.
Scott Kazmir, the old Angel, still on Earth but now fighting for the other side in the great, unending battle of Summer Supremacy. Once quite Athletic, now settling into a role of coveted muscle acquired in phone call deals. He was never long for L.A., or Anaheim, but the Halos never felt salty about his departure because there was nothing to offer us. And when they would face him in the future, they would send him reeling, punch-drunk into the clubhouse. Things change, and this situation is not exempt from that natural law. Kazmir was quite formidable last time against the Angels, and he was an oak all the way to the eighth inning this evening. A line must be drawn in the sand: will the coveted muscle beat you? Perhaps there was never really the choice; the cogs of The Wheel set in motion days ago...months, even.
No one able to plate a run; the game turned into a bitter, riling dream where you’re on top of a mortal enemy, free to unload a lifetime’s worth of pent up revenge or comeuppance or payback, and every punch you throw just can’t connect or do any damage. He just laughs at you, as you throw haymakers that, without fail, slow down to a crawl when they near the foe’s jawline, and end up being nothing more than a light tickle. This was Houston and Los Angeles trying to score on each other’s throwing armaments. Other men were called in, the likes of Joe Smith and Jose Alvarez; Pat Neshek and Luke Gregerson were equally suffocating on Halos batters, although a rally was, at one point, relatively close to the grasp of our heroes, but Mike Trout was sent back to the dugout on a fruitless swing. Nothing would come free and easy tonight; it would come swift, strained and resolute.
You want an exit? There are none. You know what Angels? To paraphrase Alan Moore, the Astros are not locked in the AL West prison with you. You’re locked in the AL West prison with THEM. They are knocking you down peg after peg, and they’ve only gotten better, stronger, more painful and blood-curdling. Two games back, ending a riotous and raucous July with demoralization and decrepit ABs. Sadness and no execution, except their own. All but Matt Shoemaker walk out of Minute Maid, the humidity just adding extra baggage and sweat-soaked weight to their steps and their thoughts. All but Matt Shoemaker, whose head is light as a feather and his mind and body are cool to the touch; filled with a supernatural ability to step between the raining hunks of dreck flung by fans, and coming out looking like a hero. Yet, we know his fate. It’s not fair, but it’s baseball. And we’re beginning to learn the fate of the Angels; we can see it coming down the pike, and there’s not much to do about it.