I did it. I tempted the Baseball Gods and they answered me in decisive fashion. I thought I would get a head-start on my post-game duties tonight by getting the headline, promo blurb and first paragraph ready early. Here's what I had prepared at 3:45 this afternoon:
I'd like to say that I did this as a reverse jinx, as a way to prompt our beloved Halos into much-needed action as the season's clock ticks toward 12. I did not. I, like many others around these parts, have lost faith in the 2015 Angels. I figured the outcome above was a foregone conclusion. But right around the second inning, just about the time Dallas Keuchel "overhopped" and misplayed a weak Taylor Featherston grounder, my phone rang.
God of September Baseball: You have no idea what you're doing, do you?
5thStarter: Who is this?
God of September Baseball: Do not tempt fate, mortal. As you wrote your first headline before tonight's game even began, you had no idea how your Jered Weaver has fared in his bullpen session tonight. His no-seam fastball had movement. His fastball topped 86 of your human miles per one of your human hours. His curveball bent both your time and your meaningless space. Let tonight be a lesson to you. [Click.]
The dial tone buzzed in my ear and I slowly put the phone back in its cradle. And that's when it happened. With the bases loaded and Kole Calhoun at the plate, Dallas Keuchel overthrew a breaking ball that bounced off Hank Conger's sturdy chest and shot toward the home dugout. Erick Aybar raced home and put the Angels on top, 1-0. Kole followed that up with a brilliant opposite-field hit on a full count (one of three that he would work against the Astros' ace) that scored Carlos Perez and Taylor Featherston. Sure, AJ Hinch and Co. challenged the safe call on Featherston's slide at the plate, but there was no definitive proof that Conger tagged Taylor before he got a fingertip home. I cheered the upheld call, and immediately, just outside, lightning struck. Was it a sign? Undoubtedly, yes. Were all three runs scored in the inning unearned? Yup. Will we take it? And you know this, man!
The following innings offered many exciting plays to a young baseball fan: Erick Aybar trying to catch George Springer napping by "stealing" home all the way from second base after Shane Victorino flared a single into right field; the aforementioned Flyin' Hawaiian sacrificing his ribs against the left-field foul wall in an unbelievable jumping attempt to make the third out on a foul ball; Jered Weaver striking out the side in the top of the fifth. Just to name a few.
The Weave ran into some trouble in the sixth when George Springer worked a walk and Carlos Gomez followed that up by jacking a changeup into the center-field grass. Gotta tip your cap on that one, because it was a great pitch and Gomez got all of it. Keuchel followed up those fireworks with a 1-2-3 bottom of the sixth.
Turns out the Baseball Gods talked to Mike Scioscia, too, because he refrained from tempting fate by using Seventh Inning Man Trevor Gott, opting for Fernando Salas instead. Oh, wait, that is tempting fate. But it worked. Salas worked a 1-2-3 by striking out the first two Astros he faced, then getting Hank Conger to uppercut a fastball into shallow right field. Ergo, Mike Scioscia is blessed and brilliant.
Josh Fields came on in relief of a tired Dallas Keuchel in the seventh and worked yet another 1-2-3. Joe Smith opened up the top of the eighth by hitting George Springer in the back. Great. It's not like Springer is a stolen-base threat or anything. Agent Smith was not fazed, though, and he got Jose Altuve to hit into a very timely double play. Following that up with a perfectly placed strike three to Carlos Correa, Joe escaped the inning unharmed. Huston Street pitched a great ninth and secured the win for the home team and starter Jered Weaver, who has now won 138 games as an Angel, which ties that other notable Angel Nolan Ryan. Oh, and he did it in 287 starts, one game quicker than The Express.
With both the Twins and the Rangers winning tonight, the Halos didn't pick up any ground in the Wild Card race, but maybe they should focus on the division instead. What say you, Baseball Gods?