One of the great things about baseball games being played when every game becomes the next Most Important Game of the Whole Season, is that every victory creates a hero or two. After spending an entire season whining and mewling about these guys, it's refreshing to be pulling for every one of them in spades.
And the heroes are popping up all over the place. C.J. Cron, Johnny Giavotella, David Freese, Andrew Heaney, David Freese again, Jered Weaver, Kole Calhoun, Mike Morin, and some up-and-comer by the name of Mike Trout. If this keeps up we are going to have to find a way to give Albert Pujols some rest from all the rigor his body is going through having to stand up there in the dugout and high five all these contributors.
As I wrote in the Game Thread yesterday, if the Halos now win out their final 7 games, there is an excellent chance that they will win the AL West after all. That pace would ensure 4 losses for the Rangers and allow the Angels to leapfrog them. The Astros would have to win out their final 6 games simply to tie. So here we are. Now back and - barely - in control of their own destiny once again.
The Upcoming Series:
Oakland Athletics @ Los Angeles Angels - Angels Stadium, Anaheim, CA.
|7:05 PM PDT
|Felix Doubront (2-2, 5.91 ERA) vs. Hector Santiago (9-9, 3.47 ERA)
|7:05 PM PDT
|Chris Bassitt (1-7, 3.07 ERA) vs. Nick Tropeano (2-2, 4.35 ERA)
|4:05 PM PDT
|It was once a lock to be Sonny Gray (14-7, 2.73 ERA) vs. Garrett Richards (15-11, 3.73 ERA), but now we get word that Gray has a sore hip and is a "long shot" for Wednesday.
From the official team Game Notes: "OAKLAND ON DECK: Angels have won six of last eight games including last two…LAA leads 2015 series 8-5 (4-3 at home)…Halos have won 15 of last 21 matchups…Since 2002, Angels (6) or Athletics (5) have won 11 of 13 A.L. West crowns."
Trout Porn: Mike Trout's catch was mesmerizing. Of course, this season Toronto fans have joined the anti-Trout League founded by Detroit fans (something that will keep on happening as various teams have some rare guy play at a level that competes for the MVP) and choose to dismiss Saturday night as merely average. They vote for Kevin Pillar. I am not as big of an ignoramus. Pillar and Trout are equitable and I wouldn't dismiss Pillar's catch as anything but brilliant. Statcast has Trout running farther and faster (probably because Montero's drive Saturday didn't hang like Tim Beckham's drive did). Pillar's route was a hair split better than Trout's and Pillar was able to use the wall to get his glove higher UP on the reach. But Trout had to climb the wall and then reach OVER and BEYOND the field and not just straight up. And, of course, Trout's saved the season............But, here, to do a larger, historical, comparison, you can see how an Angel robbing Jesus stacks up against other thievery..........
Trout Porn: The KingFish has seen both Trout's catch Saturday and Jim Edmonds catch in Kansas City back in 1997 in person, and chooses Trout over Edmonds...........
Trout Porn: As ESPN stat chums tweeted, Mike has robbed 3 home runs this year, which are the most in baseball. And he has 8 such robberies since 2012. In second place in this era is Carlos Gomez, with 6..........
Trout Porn: Trout is closing fast. In this month of September, he is batting .306 with 17 hits, 7 of which have been home runs. Easily his best September of his career, closing strong when it matters most, carrying his team, leading the league, yada yada yada. Time for the BBWAA to change the MVP narrative once again would be my guess. Some are already starting.........
Street Closed: With Huston Street apparently failing to properly stretch prior to the game before risking his groin while trotting off the mound to back up 3rd base Saturday night, Bill Stoneman is left scrambling to find another arm for the pen. Problem is, at this late date, anybody located outside of the organization is now ineligible for the playoffs anyway..........Street, however, thinks he will have a chance to return in the playoffs.
Pitch Imperfect: Huston Street is gone. Joe Smith is to remain out with his testy ankle, Matt Shoemaker is slow to return, and Jered Weaver is crumbling. Somewhere out there is a fanbase of some team eliminated from the post-season who are whining about injuries...............
STUFF: Johnny Giavotella is batting .500 (4 for 8) since returning, with 2 triples, a double, 2 RBI's and 1 Leaping Lena. For all that, we say: "Thanks, mom!"..........Speaking of Johnny G, he causes chaos even in the LAA dugout..........In case you were wondering, Trevor Gott wasn't used yesterday because he has been used a lot lately..........Whomever it is that runs the Official Angels twitter feed needs to learn themselves some baseball. That was Featherston at 3B, having pinch-run for Giavotella..........Will Carrol, self-proclaimed "@injuryexpert" sees his expertise fail him on the level of Huston Street's groin injury. It's a LevelI, not a Level II...........
While things remain unsettled throughout the MLB Front Office Landscape, Arte Moreno and John Carpino continue to winnow down their Gelded Mouthpiece search with laser-like focus:
Elsewhere in Baseball
Flaming Out: Amazingly, up until this weekend the entirety of the American League were still mathematically in the playoff hunt, with the exception of the Oakland A's who were kicked out back on September 18th (by then 8 of the NL teams had been booted). Well, over the weekend we lost the Tigers and White Sox, then the Mariners and Rays. The Red Sox Elimination Number is down to 1, and the Orioles are right behind them at 2.
When Asshats Collide: Wow...Bryce Harper hits a pop-up and cannot be bothered to run it out to first base. Of all people to call out the kid it turns to Jonathan Papelbon. Papelbon The Asshat barks at Harper The Asshat all the way back to the dugout and Harper is clearly not used to anybody getting on his case. Fights ensue. They can't be going and waiting for Matt Williams to do his job there, after all, since Williams The Asshat has lost control of the entire clubhouse. And then, to cap off a perfect game, Papelbon then went out to pitch the 9th inning tied 4-4 and craps all over the mound as he gets tagged for 5 runs as the Nats lose 12 to 5. Just a brilliant, brilliant display...........
Rice-a-Roni: In a treat mostly for the folks of the San Francisco/Oakland area, a big wahoo was had when the stars aligned for Barry Zito and Tim Hudson to take the mound together one last time, although as opponents. It was so cute that Mark Mulder attended just as the capper. A good time was to be had by all. Except, of course, the small problem of these two pitchers totally sucking eggs.Neither lasted more than 2 innings and both combined in that tiny window to surrender 7 earned runs. neither struck anybody out. Yeah, it sucked..............
Expanded Rosters: A while ago we linked to Mike Scioscia complaining about September call ups and the imbalance it can create in competition. This weekend it was Buck Showalter's turn to whine, being at the losing end of 7 Boston relief pitchers. Note at the end of that link, however, how Showalter wasn't complaining back in 2011 when he used it to his advantage............
What, Me Worry? Bobby Valentine (not to be confused with somebody who has a successful track record for critical thinking skills) has come out of the medicine closet and proclaimed a need to let the doors for PEDS swing wide open. Hey, Bobby, call me when you have figured out how to draw the line in that whole "if it's not harmful to the athlete" thing, because you will have single-handedly outwitted a multi-trillion dollar annual effort by the combined forces of pharmaceutical companies and governments around the globe..........
Sports Biz 1: The NFL, still struggling to get LA taxpayers to buy one of their billionaires a new play toy, are now putting pressure on their players to fork up some dough............
Sports Biz 2: Here we go again. MLBAM is working tirelessly to take down the work of the massive free marketing labor among their fans and supporters. Can't be going and doing any free promotional work on behalf of the owners, nosiree. (Why do I get the feeling that Arte Moreno, who made his fortune by being in total control of a marketing media, has a small finger in this?) MLB decision-makers need to sit their asses down and watch this documentary and learn what happens to your business and profits when you let your fans get involved.............
Sports Biz 3: Live sports appears to be the best hedge against cord cutting. "We’ve chronicled how cord cutting has increased over the years causing some cause for concern among the cable networks. However, there’s some encouraging news...A new survey by Frank N. Magid Associates shows that live sports is causing some people to think twice about dropping their cable subscriptions....And in more encouraging news, 90% say they watch sports on TV rather on their mobile devices....Fans can watch games online, but many events have to be authenticated through a cable or satellite account login."
Joe West: A right way and a wrong way to deal with Uncle Joe.............