Angels 6 Rangers 5
Well, it happened again. What’s the old saying? “If you want to hear God laugh, start writing your Angels post-game article before the 9th inning”? Ok, I’ll admit that’s not really an age old cliche, but after the last two Halos games, it damn well should be.
For the second game in a row, the Angels went into the bottom of the ninth, bats quiet all night and buried by a decent-sized deficit. For the second game in a row, they turned on some sort of magical baseball energy generator in the ninth, or perhaps they are just so good that they have perfected an MLB version of the rope-a-dope...whatever it is they’re doing, it’s better than any drug or libation of which I’ve ever partook.
First of all, let’s get those pesky, boring, early innings out of the way. The first seven innings or so of this game were not good at all, if you’re an Angels fan. The offense was going against Cole Hamels, and were looking like they were swinging wet noodles out there. The only guy to get a good knock on Hamels was Jefry Marte, who hit a no-doubt solo bomb in the seventh. Yep, it took THAT long to get just one run on the board.
Meanwhile, Tyler Skaggs was having his second outing of the young season, and it wasn’t really looking great. His whole night on the mound, which lasted just five innings, was marred by a horrible third inning, where he gave up four runs total off of a couple homers and some other bad pitching decisions. Mike Napoli also got a run off of him via single earlier in the game, so basically Skaggs gave the Rangers and Cole Hamels a five-run head start.
Most nights, that’s enough to turn in early, call it a night, turn the page, etc. Unless you’re a team of four-leaf-clover-adorned shaman who all seemingly have wishbones up their rear ends. What I’m saying is this: NO LEAD IS SAFE FOR THE OPPONENT, THIS TEAM IS MAGICAL PERSONIFIED.
So they went into the 8th down 5-1, and with a little help from Cameron Maybin, they tacked on one more run. 5-2 lead for the Rangers...has to be safe, right? WRONG.
The ninth inning unfolded exactly as if we were all having a shared daydream, and that daydream then materialized before our very eyes, on the field at the Big A. Danny Espinosa hit a opposite field homer. Mike Trout doubled home Yunel Escobar (who, by the way, had a nice 3-4 night), and then old man Albert Pujols singled home Mike Trout, tying up the game 5-5.
It was at that point that I thought I’d either lost my mind, gone full psychotic break from reality, and was seeing purely imagined wish fulfillment on my TV screen. Except, this was really, really happening. AGAIN.
On to the 10th we all went, on needles and pins, hoping that this team blows our minds one more time, to the point that we’re just going to flat out EXPECT this from them, every time. You know what? They kept on delivering. An Angels team that meets and then exceeds every best case scenario my imagination can think up has the potential to be the most dangerously engrossing pastime since The Entertainment, from David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest.
What I’m saying is they weren’t even done melting our brains...we still had the top of the 10th, when Mike Napoli, seasoned Angels killer, hit a deep, deep drive to center, only to have it snatched out of the air, AT THE WALL AND IN THE AIR, by his royal highness, the living baseball god himself, Mike Trout. That’s when we all knew, right?
That’s when we all knew this thing was wrapped up. The Halos were going to get out of hell before the devil knew they were dead...for the second time in three days.
The bottom of the 10th had a crucial walk from Cameron Maybin, from Rangers reliever Jeremy Jeffress, and then Danny Espinosa singled, which moved Maybin to third base. There was not one soul in the Big A, or watching at home, that didn’t see a suicide squeeze coming next; shoot, I’d be willing to bet that thousands and thousands of miles away, in a remote, Tibetan temple, a devout Buddhist monk who has been silently praying for 8 years straight opened his eyes and said “The Angels are going for a suicide squeeze.”
And then, Carlos Perez pulled off a perfect suicide squeeze, right down the first base line, scoring Cameron Maybin, and all of a sudden I was levitating in my room, my blood replaced with bright red fluid karma, the same that I believe has been powering the Halos to some of the most improbable wins they’ve had in awhile. I haven’t touched alcohol in nearly six years, yet this team has gotten me drunk off of their unbeatable spirit and never-say-die ethos.
The Angels won, beating the Rangers 6-5, in 10 innings. They are far and away the toast of the AL West right now, and they’ve injected every Halos fan far and wide with their Billy Eppler-concocted blend of adrenaline and magic, and I never want this feeling to end. But it doesn’t have to. They DO play tomorrow, after all.