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HumpLinks: Angels get in the win column.

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Shoemaker had a heady game, but the LAA defense cannot say the same. Middle relief looked terrible, but the new guys showed up to rally in the 9th.

Tim Warner/Getty Images

The biggest challenge we baseball fans have is surviving the opening month. It comes after a very long, wintry, delay and we exit our caves famished from the hibernation. What we set aside is the memory of those long, slow weeks of June/July/August that are in our future, when all the teams make their streaks pro and con. That will be when the standings jockeying will render April just another historical window of opportunity to argue about over beers.

So let's not get too wrapped up with an Opening Day loss. And let's not get too excited over Danny Espinosa's first 2017 hit, a 3-run home run in the top of the 9th inning that follows a base hit by both Jefry Marte and Cameron Maybin and ends up rallying the Angels into a win that their bullpen has just rallied them out of. Oh hell. Yeah. Get too excited. It's fun to be back in a regular season again! Angels win 7-6.

April has rarely meant much to Mike Scioscia. In the 17 seasons he has managed the team prior to this one, Sosh has led the Angels to a .500 or better record in the first month just 5 times. Although getting out of the gate fast would seem important (4 of those 5 times the team made the playoffs, with 2011 being the lone exception), the Halos rarely do.

Famously, they opened 2002 at 10-15 entering May with a .400 winning percentage, but went 88-49 (.642) the rest of the way and won the World Series as a Wild Card. Spread over an entire year, that .642 plays out to a 104-win season. This franchise has never had a 104-win season.

The hottest April they ever had was 2008, when they went 18-11 (.621). That run was sustained over the entire season as they finished 100-62 (.617, and their best record ever). That year they humiliated the rest of the division, going 36-21 and winning the AL West by 21 games.

The coldest they have ever started, but STILL made the playoffs, was in 2009. They opened 9-12 (.429), then went 88-53 (.624) and, again, coasted to the AL West title. Oddly, that was not because the Angels again humiliated the rest of the division. They went only 30-27 within the AL West and left it to the rest of baseball to win the flag for them.

So here we are. Two games in. The odds are that we won't win even half of the games between here and May. Regardless of owner, regardless of payroll, regardless of General Manager, regardless of player roster, a Mike Scioscia team rarely does. Sometimes it works out. In a game designed for Fail to rule over all, sometimes is actually pretty good.

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A Little Bit of Angels News

Trout Porn: "Mike Trout hit an unremarkable home run, and it was the most remarkable part of Opening Day. It was a low liner that would have been a weak grounder off almost anyone else’s bat, and I can’t stop watching it."............And that was not the only exciting thing that Trout has done this season down that left field line. Add a triple to his early resume............

Players are responsible for execution. Managers are responsible for putting the players in the best position to succeed. It's fair to call out players who fail to execute, and fair to call out managers when...............But, again, maybe this is part of Sosh's special inside secret sauce. (A side note that FanGraphs is not buying Sosh's attempt to convince us of his plan.)............

It kind of makes sense that a guy who now makes his living being a Designated Hitter, would be totally down with the concept of Designated Walk.................

Martin Maldonado hit the baseball last night. It actually went out into the field of play! Miraculously, two runs scored as a result and the Halos actually went into the lead. In a real game. I, for one, was stunned. But that is not all. Maldonado caught a baserunner. I'm not gonna lie. In any other dimension Rajai Davis easily steal second base..........Oh, and I cannot let this miracle paragraph pass without also noting that Cameron Maybin collected TWO hits!............

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Everywhere In Baseball

Stephen Piscotty is of to a real difficult start to his season. I'd go back to bed if I were him............

Pedro Guerrero is, sadly, on his journey to his Maker..........

Ha! Attendance last night was documented at 11,225. 32% of capacity. Seems impossibly high considering how it looked on TV. Over in Detroit, since their actual Opening Day game was rained out, postponed, and played a day late to empty seats and created a moment of mockery. Well, the documented attendance there was 36,534. 88.5% of capacity. I'm not stupid. I know that what they publish as "attendance" are seats that the franchise itself has sold. It really means "paid". Such bullshit. I really don't understand the eternal dishonesty...........

The Angels are making a legend out of Kendall Graveman............

Imagine if a Mike Trout could pitch like Clayton Kershaw. Why not believe in the impossible? Or is it? We already got a Madison Bumgarner who can hit like a Mike Trout..........

I am confused by this chart, showing the Angels as having a not the very worst rotation in baseball. It has a disclaimer that it is as of March 30th, before the season began, but it includes a Yu Darvish, who didn't pitch last year. But it shows the LAA rotation as being not that horrible, when horrible it was last year. And yet it claims to study things like how deep a guy goes into games (as if a pitcher has full control of such things) when we have rotations out there with guys for which there is no such data. Was this last year? Is it this year? I dunno. I get confused a lot by FiveThirtyEight..........

Ok. A local politician finds a worthy cause and it gives him something to do. It keeps him away from raising taxes, I suppose, and it truly will protect the cellphone users at field level..........

The first time the new IBB rule was invoked (congrats to Yadier Molina). And how did it do? Well, it prevented a game that did last 3 hours and 25 minutes from lasting 3 hours and 26 minutes. Rob Manfred declares victory!..........

Is the shift something that needs to be over already? Can't it last at least as long as some random social media app?..........

No link. Just sayin'. 50 home runs in baseball already. The LAA pitching staff has made the Oakland A's the top HR hitting team in baseball, with 5. In 23 games played so far, those 50 HR's work out to be 2.17 HR's per game. Last year, for the regular season, the rate was 2.31 HR's per game. So all this noise I am relaying about the opening games and the HR frenzy is, actually, not such a big deal after all. It's just the excitement of having baseball back, which is not such a bad thing..........

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The Duffle Bag

Great Opening Day GIF funbag............Oh, Victor. Are we stepping on your lawn?............You can run from a Joey Gallo home run, but you cannot hide.............Vin Scully is also our American Master at Turning The Page...........Thank heavens the Padres are so full of ex-Halos on their roster to make them look so mature..........The first American League Rookie of the Year has died, of old age...........You know there are is lot of baseball's lexicon intertwined withint he English language. But "jazz"? Oh, hell yeah.............Ouch. I could come closer to home plate, and I'd do it for a lot less money.................Not a good look, Atlanta Braves. Smacks of "Let them eat cake!"..........Millions of dollars in debt over a sports stadium, St. Louis citizens put their foot down and refuse to go millions of dollars into debt over a sports stadium..........


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