So much happened in tonight's game, offering up multitudes of ways to approach a post-game write up, but where does one even begin to describe the downright wackiness of this Angels/ Cardinals series capper? There were big hits, big errors, an amazing Rally Cat appearance, an actual Angels rally and, sadly, a Cards rally. A veritable potpourri of baseball action, whimsy and thrills. The Angels lost, sure, but hey, this loss was pretty fun.
Jered Weaver was our man on the mound to kick off this bonkers bonanza, and for a few innings, he genuinely looked like the team's best pitching option. To sweeten the pot, the Angels were actually putting some runs on the board early and giving some breathing room to their former ace, what a novel concept. In the second, both Cliff Pennington and Yunel Escobar got hits, putting them on second and third, and Kole Calhoun came up and flew them home, Red Baron style, via an RBI single. The Angels were up 2-0, and all eyes were back on Weaver.
Weaver actually took a no-hitter into the fourth, but those magical nights on the bump are fickle, and his first hit came in the form of a Matt Carpenter homer. St. Louis was creeping back in, 2-1, and to compound things, Jeremy Hazelbaker hit a two-run single that pushed them past the Halos and in charge of a 3-2 lead. It was the first lead change of the evening, but not to worry, there were more on the way.
The bottom of the fourth is when southern California and Angels fans worldwide were captivated by a cute kitty that charged, juked, ducked and dove it's way not only around the field, but then throughout the stands until it was safely wrangled. Angels Twitter lit up and the legend of 2014's Rally Cat had been reborn, only this time it was the amped-up, summer blockbuster version to the previous Rally Cat's and it's underwhelming loitering of the batter's eye.
Tonight's Rally Cat put most legendary sports streakers to shame; graceful, wily, athletic, funny, impressive, cute...pretty much everything you want out of a Rally Cat. The even better part? He brought actual, honest-to-goodness mojo! The Angels immediately scored three runs after the Rally Cat appearance, as Daniel Nava hit his first homer of the year, Cliff Pennington drove in a run via single and Yunel Escobar got one via groundout. A 5-3 lead and all of a sudden people were calling for the Rally Monkey to be given his walking papers, and for the Halos to anoint Rally Cat as our chosen mojo deity.
Someone must not have gotten the memo, though, or perhaps the Big A staff made the grave mistake of transporting the Rally Cat and his/her good luck away from the field, because the Cardinals came back, and they came back hard.In the fifth, Weaver gave up a three-run homer to Matt Carpenter(this guy has killed us this series) and a two-run homer to Matt Holliday. The Cardinals retook the lead by the tune of 8-5 and from there on, the Angels just didn't have any magic in them.
Sure, they scored some more runs in the fifth, thanks to Daniel Nava and C.J. Cron hits, and it's great to see both those guys having good games. But the best they could drum up was a one-run deficit, 8-7 red birds, only to then see the Cardinals bounce right back and take an even more commanding 10-7 lead. Adam Wainright, the visiting starting arm, had been knocked around which eventually lead to being knocked out, but then came along The Big Boss, St. Louis reliever Seung Hwan, who extinguished the Angels' comeback for the time being and calmed things down a bit.
The Cardinals weren't even done, as depressing as that is. In the ninth, they taked on a few more runs, from a two-out error followed by a bevy of hits, and the Angels would take their valiant efforts into the ninth trailing 12-7.
Even while standing down the Cardinals firing squad late in the game, the Angels had one last gasp of excitement left in the tank. At this point of tonight's exhausting contest, no matter the outcome I was about to see, I was prepared to give the Angels an A for effort. The bottom of the ninth started off with a Geovany Soto double, then Kole Calhoun drove him home for his third RBI of the evening. Then, Albert Pujols hit a bomb to center field that brought the score to 12-10, Cardinals. Creeping back, slowly but surely.
Then, with visiting closer Trevor Rosenthal on the mound and unable to find the strike zone, the Angels found themselves in a spot where they were down two, in the ninth, with the bases loaded. Rosenthal's meltdown was weird, but it sure worked to ratchet up the suspense a dozen notches. All of a sudden, the Halos had a chance to cap off a legendary game with a legendary walk-off.
Carlos Perez struck out, though, and then pinch hitter Shane Robinson popped up...wait, that's it? That's how they went down? Bases loaded with one out in the ninth, down two...nothing to show for it. Oh well, they honestly shocked me by being in it that late(and St. Louis shocked me by making so many mistakes), and in the end, it was still one hell of a game. Disappointing, but also satisfying. I'll take it.
Those 10 runs were a season high for the Angels, and it is proof that there was some special mojo in the air tonight. Rally Cat can only do so much, however, and same goes for the bullpen, as tired and run ragged as they've been lately. Tonight was bananas, and it came down to who would crack under the craziness first.
Sadly, it was our guys, the Angels, the knights of the Rally Cat.
So we had a pretty time watching our favorite team tonight, one that saw timely hitting, homers launched by both teams, lead changes galore, and of course, a freakin' RALLY CAT. They still lost, and now it's SIX in a row for the limping and lousy Angels, but if all losses were like tonight's, this season would be, at the very least, fun and/or funny. A man can dream, though.
(FYI: Rally Cat has already been turned over to an adoption agency, per Alden Gonzalez. He/she is doing a-ok and is now set to get a new home. I'm not a cat guy, but i'll make an exception here and call dibs. He/she's mine!)