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Oakland Beats Angels, Who Cling To Second Wild Card Spot

In a game that really should have been won, the Angels lost to the Oakland A's and put their Wild Card spot in jeopardy.

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Garrett Richards took the mound in the final game against the Oakland Athletics in 2015 and immediately faced trouble. That pesky Sam Fuld worked a walk to open the game, but Mark Canha quickly grounded into a double play and gave Richards some breathing room. Josh Reddick flew out to Shane Victorino, and #43 was able to walk back to the dugout, calm. In the bottom of the inning, Erick Aybar led off with a fly-out, but Kole reached on an error by our old friend Mark Canha, who was unable to scoop the low throw from Oakland third-baseman Danny Valencia. Mike Trout quickly worked a walk, and up stepped the man, the myth, the legend, Albert Pujols, he of the .400 batting average against Barry Zito. Well, not anymore. Albert grounded into an inning-ending double play. [sadtromboner.gif]

[We interrupt this transmission to point out that the Toronto Blue Jays are beating the Baltimore Orioles, 15-2. Wow. That Canadian team might be pretty good.]

Garrett came out throwing BBs and benders to begin the second inning. He hit 98mph on his heater and 90mph on that nasty slider. After striking out the first two A's he faced, Danny Valencia and triple-chin-hiding-beardo-turned-annoying-Oakland-A Stephen Vogt, Garrett faced notorious foe Brett Lawrie, who has gone 5-for-12 in his career against Richards. Lawrie worked the walk, the second of the game Richards gave up. Up next was notorious nerd Eric Sogard. Despite a wild pitch that allowed Lawrie to reach second, Garrett came out of the inning unscathed. In the bottom of the inning, David Freese let Zito off the hook by hitting into a double play after working the count to 3-0. It was time for the Flyin' Hawaiian to have his Angel Moment. Or not. He took a walk. Carlos Perez extended the inning by shooting a single through the hole on the left side of the infield. Johnny Giavotella dug in and got to grounding out to short. We'll chalk it all up to inexperience against Zito. Or something.

Richards cruised through the third, and Zito did the same ran into one thick-necked, cold-hearted sum'bitch named Mike Trout, who crushed his 41st homer of the year. And I mean "crushed". We're talking dead central, baby. Sorry for all the colloquialisms, but Mike Trout makes me happier than a pig in poop. What the heck am I talking about? Jeez. That last one was an idiom, ya maroon!

Garrett ran into some turmoil in the fourth when Josh Reddick singled and Danny Valencia reached on an error by Johnny Giavotella. Stephen Vogt, the should-be-a-plumber-turned-really-annoying-Oakland-A, worked a four-pitch walk and the wheels on the wagon began to squeak and moan. And the best guy to make those wheels fall off? The next batter, Brett Lawrie, who is great with the bases loaded and great against Garrett Richards. Uh oh. Luckily, Lawrie grounded to Freese, who threw home for the force out. The inning was still going, though, as major-league dweeb Eric Sogard came to the plate. And, of course, he hit a bases-clearing double after falling behind the count. 3-1 A's. Unbelievable how this little dork keeps torching the Angels. It'll be nice when (if?) Garrett gets back to form next year, yeah? Richards didn't walk of the mound too calmly after striking out Marcus Semien for the third out.

David Freese immediately got one back when he yanked a 3-1 meatball (Zit-ball?) to left field. Mmm, that's good homer! And Victorino immediately followed that up with his Official Angel Moment! Well, not really. But he did single and force Bob Melvin to ponder which of Oakland's awful relievers he should go to first. (Dan Otero drew the short straw.)  After Carlos Perez grounded into a fielder's choice, Johnny G #1 In Da Hood rifled a liner right back to the mound and Perez was doubled off of first. Bummer. 3-2, A's.

Aybar began the fifth with an extremely bone-headed error that allowed Jake Smolinski to reach. But Sam Fuld hit into a fielder's choice for the first out, and Mark Canha hit a LONG fly-ball out that Trout tracked down and caught at the wall for the second out. Phew. Sam Fuld tried to steal second, but was gunned by Carlos Perez for the third out. That inning was quite the team effort.

Zito was relieved by Daniel Coulombe in the bottom of the fifth, and after getting Aybar to fly out, he walked Calhoun and was yanked. In came Dan Otero to face Trout, who quickly hit a grounder up the middle for a single. Albert flewout to deep left field for the second out, Kole advanced and C.J. Cron came to bat. Trout stole second on the first pitch of the at-bat, and the baseball world rejoiced. Trout can still run! That was the only running we got to see, though, as Cron hit a weak dribbler up the first-base line for the third out. I think he yelled, "Fudge!" after he made the out.

Garrett started the sixth inning by striking out Josh Reddick and Danny Valencia on a nasty two-seamer and a nasty slider, respectively. He then walked library-BMer-turned-super-annoying-Oakland-A Stephen Vogt, but struck out Brett Lawrie to end the inning. That would prove to be his last pitch, just in case he'll be needed for Sunday's start against Texas. After quickly making two outs, the Angels turned to Carlos Perez who lined a fastball to center, and after Sam Fuld seriously misplayed it, Carlos made it to third base. Guess who came up next? That's right, Little Italy, the Holy Cannoli, Johnny G, Li'l Gio, the Flyin'...somethin' got in the box and jacked a dinger to the left-field seats! 4-3, Angels. After Erick Aybar reached on a single, Kole ripped a double off the right-field wall and notched an RBI. 5-3, Angels. Mike Trout was ready to bat. He hit a weak grounder to short and beat it out, but for some reason, Kole kept running and was nailed at home. Well, not really home. Halfway to home. That's how dumb of a decision it was. Either way, 5-3, Angels.

Mike Morin came in to pitch the seventh and got Sogard to hit a very weak grounder to Taylor Featherston. You know, the defensive whiz. Well, he boffed it and Sogard was able to reach first. Garbage. Moosh struck out Semien for the first out, but gave up a single to pinch-hitter Coco Crisp. Because Trout deked uber-lame-o Eric Sogard, the A's second-baseman had to hold up at second. It wouldn't matter, though, as Morin walked human double-play Billy Butler to load the bases. Dreck. Why did Morin have to step on that piece of glass in Florida? Trevor Gott came in, gave up a flare single to Mark Canha and Sogard came in to score. Then Gott walked in the tying run. Trash. 5-5. With only one out. Danny Valencia flew out to shallow right field and Kole threw a bullet home. Because Craig Gentry, the man on third base, would rather stare at Ron Washington than the play on the field, he was unable to tag up and score. Phew. But the inning wasn't over. Loud-chewer-turned-ultra-annoying-Oakland-A Stephen Vogt still had to bat and he ended up hitting a two-run single. Rubbish. 7-5, A's. Brett Lawrie struck out and the inning finally ended.

[We interrupt this transmission to point out that the Rangers are beating the Tigers, 6-2: the Red Sox are tied with the Yankees, 5-5; and the Twins, after winning the first game of a doubleheader, are being walloped by the Indians, 7-0.]

Guess what happened in the bottom of the seventh? The Angels went down, 1-2-3, and looked pathetic doing so. Onto the eighth. Jose Alvarez came on in relief and got a quick out, but gave up a triple to Marcus Semien because of a poorly played ball by Mike Trout that when under his glove. Then Coco Crisp hit what should have been the second out, but C.J. Cron let the ball go right between his legs, a la Bill Buckner circa 1986. The wheels have left the building. 8-5, A's. Time for a new reliever or something. Time for Fernando Salas. Losing the game and the streak in this fashion would be quite the Buttercup, wouldn't it? Anyway, Salas got out of the inning without giving up any more runs. Yay.

In the bottom of the inning, Efren Navarro got the call (YES!) to hit for Shane Victorino, but he quickly popped up (NO!) and the first out was recorded. Then Carlos Perez came up and launched a tater into the left-field seats for his fourth HR of the season. 8-6, A's. That was it, though, because David Murphy did nothing and neither did Erick Aybar. Well, at least the right guys would be up in the bottom of the ninth.

Cesar Ramos recorded a quick first out in the top of the ninth, and Kole Calhoun made a leaping grab to rob pit-stained-mustard-lipped-slob-turned-immensely-annoying-Oakland-A Stephen Vogt of extra bases. Joe Smith came in to record the last out with a strikeout of Brett Lawrie.

Bottom of the ninth. Calhoun. Trout. Pujols. DINGER! WALK! FLYOUT TO CENTER! Ugh. Thanks, Albert. Cron came up and swung at the first pitch (no idea why) and lined one to Josh Reddick in right. In stepped Mr. Freese aka Mr. September, who hit a single up the middle so that Trout could advance to third. Collin Cowgill came in to pinch-hit for Efren Navarro, and...he swung at the first pitch for the third out. Detritus.