The MLB, according to WAY too many baseball thinkpieces in the past year or so, is in dire need of a superstar face for the league; a player who is a giant of the sport, comparable to LeBron James. Now, you know how I feel about this subject: Mike Trout IS baseball, ‘nuff said. Regardless of my own opinions on the matter, tonight’s game at the Big A, the first of a short, two-game tussle with the Nationals, proved to MLB execs and big wigs everywhere that MLB has themselves some star power, make no mistake.
That is, however, if you believe the execs and big wigs were even watching to begin with; I mean, this wasn’t even a nationally televised game, and we all know it’s probably past their east coast bedtime. If they did happen to tune in to the Halos/Nats kickoff, they’d be smart to notice the crowd, 43, 345 paid (according to the Angels, but unlike other games, tonight it looked like that was close to actual butts-in-seats numbers) MLB fans, with excitement radiating from every section, on every play.
Oh, and let’s not kid ourselves...this was all for Bryce Harper and Mike Trout. We know Mike Trout is a legend around these parts, but while he’s far, far from my cup of tea, or cup of anything, really, Harper does have his disciples. The Angels and Nationals, on a Monday night, were rocking and rolling the Big A, and two of the best candidates for the league’s total godhead ballplayer supreme were the catalyst for the energy in the air. MLB is going to be just fine.
As for the game itself, it started out like we had all been daydreaming in our offices or places of work, mere hours earlier. It was actually happening. The first inning showed Harper and Trout both going deep off of their respective opponent’s starting pitcher (Edwin Jackson and Jesse Chavez). Both were solo shots, but Harper’s was 405 feet and Trout’s was 448 feet, therefore we know that the Trout dinger is the superior dinger here. No surprise there, really.
It was at the end of the first, with the score tied at 1-1 and both team’s MVPs going yard, that I thought we were going to see some epic home run battle between Trout and Harper, which would account for all the runs we saw scored in this game. Trout and Harper didn’t really face off that way at all, but you know what? The homer battle was still on like a prawn that yawns at dawn.
Martin Maldonado would be the next to hit one out, when he got a solo blizzy in the bottom of the 6th. The 2-1 lead the Angels had because of that roundtripper felt good, but it was short-lived, like most other good feelings in this cold, dark world. In the top of the seventh, Anthony Rendon hit his 20th bomb of the season...yep, another solo...and the game was tied once again, 2-2.
The game was within reach, but the Nationals are one of the deadlier lineups the Halos will see coming from the NL, so the good guys really needed a stellar showing from eighth inning setup stud Cam Bedrosian. Unfortunately, this stellar showing never materialized, and instead we saw him give up a couple consecutive hits. One was a Harper triple, and the other was an RBI single from Ryan Zimmerman. Just like that, in the eighth, Bedrosian had let the Nats pull ahead 3-2, and now the home team was on the clock to score some runs.
The Nationals, and reliever Keynan Middleton, weren’t going to make that easy, though, as Adam Lind hit yet another of the game’s solo home runs, in the ninth inning, and the Angels had to go into the ninth down 4-2. They would have their chances, they would even get an RBI off of a groundout from Mike Trout, but Albert Pujols’ pop up, with two men on and two down, would seal the close shave losing deal.
There were superstars out on the field in the Big A tonight, but neither team really needed them. Okay, so maybe Harper had a pretty nice game, and Trout drove in a couple, too, so the crowd got a good show. It just didn’t end the way anybody in their right mind in Angels Stadium would want.
Especially since Cameron Maybin suffered a painful knee injury in this one, and will have an MRI tomorrow. A loss is one thing, but to lose Maybin on top of that would just be...well...that’d be trAdition, I suppose.