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HumpLinks: Skaggs brilliant. Kendrick brillianter.

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Tyler Skaggs, in just his 3rd game back, showed us the kind of stability he can bring to the rotation. 5 innings pitched and only 2 earned runs allowed. His ERA is 2.93 since coming back.

Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

How bout them symmetrical apples? Back in 2014 Howie Kendrick and Andrew Heaney passed each other on the 5 freeway and the Angels and Dodgers swapped players. Three years later those two players arrived together in Washington, DC. Kendrick just 3 weeks after being traded, and Heaney just hours after going through rehab. Kendrick showed up and produced. Heaney showed up and watched. Nats win, 3-1. But's Ok, folks. Kendricks gave the Nats a win. Heaney will be giving the Halos wins for years to come.

It's easy to point to any of a lot of small things as to why a team loses a close game. I don't point to Old Man Albert failing to scoop up a ground ball. I don't point to Not So Speedy Pujols lumbering up the line for an embarrassingly easy infield out in the 9th. I don't point to the C.J. Cron with the .458/.480/.917 slash line with a 1.397 OPS over his last 6 games sitting on the bench (the one batting 26 points higher against RHP this year). Nope. I point to an inning-ending bases-loaded clutch defensive snag by the I Told You We Should Have SIgned Free Agent Daniel Murphy.

But focus on Tyler Skaggs. In the bigger picture, his 5 inning, 2 earned run outing lowered his ERA since returning to 2.93, and this bodes well for adding stability to the rotation down the stretch.

We did dodge a bullet when the Royals managed to blow an 8-4 lead against Oakland going into the bottom of the 8th, losing 10-8 and allowing the Halos to keep a grasp on the 2nd WC spot for another day. And it was mainly Matt Joyce, finally doing something good for Anaheim............

And, anyway, we got Ricky Nolasco tonight. We got this, right?

Have some Let's-Play-Spin-The-Bottle-And-Build-A-Lineup Links:

(FULL DISCLOSURE MOMENT: Before we begin, Deadspin went off on SBN yesterday. There is a lot of truth in what they publish, but I have my own opinions too wordy for here. I don't agree with their thesis. I'll let this guy do a lot of the talking today, since I have other things to do at the moment.)

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A Little Bit of Angels News

Ok, a lot of hay was made about Pujols in the lineup instead of C.J. Cron yesterday. I write this before the game, and before any outcome. That is when the Halosphere was initially aghast. It's also when Cron was specifically called out for MLB props due to his super hot bat. Before I update with the results, I just want to throw this out there. Pujols' career splits show that his highest SLG success has been in the Nationals ballpark (click to sort on SLG or OPS). maybe THAT was what Sosh was thinking.........

Our cousins over at the SBN site for the Braves revisit the Andrelton Simmons trade. Mostly because Simmons is having such a magnificent season that it makes the trade look even more lobsided............

Roster roundup:  Andrew Heaney is back on board. Look for him before the weekend is out..........Damien Magnifico was outrighted from the 40-man to make room for Heaney..........Garrett Richards to face live batters this week..........

The guy who rolled out that lineup yesterday? Yep, doing a sterling job. Stop questioning it..........

BaseballAmerica throwing some love in the direction of Parker Bridwell............

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Josh Mayhood's Library of Mike Trout Hagiography

Mike Trout: a hero everywhere...........

Trout reflects on Bryce Harper, and Mike knows a thing about freak injuries...........

Trout and Harper go about their games much differently, but both are great for Baseball. Well, when they stay on thefield, anyway...........

Trout still is the guy to beat in order to claim the AL MVP title...........

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Everywhere In Baseball

Commissioner Manfred is committed to speeding up games (expect significant news on this in the offseason). But baseball is just as determined to slow things back down. And baseball is winning. Sam Miller digs into all the ways that Baseball is making life difficult for the Commissioner's Office. After reading his breakdown, I blame foul balls. Well, and Joey Votto...........

Oh this is fun. An ex-High School baseball player is suing his ex-High School baseball coach for refusing to play him, under the guise of "bullying". Now I happen to know that this is a real thing that happens. I recall a particular baseball coach when I was in H.S. who had already shown a personal bias against my older brother, which then carried down to me when I came of age and showed up on campus. In my day, it was just tough shit kid. I don't know if THIS case is real, but I do know that is CAN BE real............

So Giancarlo Stanton is on a huge tear..........Which is timely, because Stanton has cleared waivers and the Marlins are actively trying to trade him...........First of all, I wonder if Derek Jeter has anything to say about this? His bid is on its way to the full MLB ownership for approval of the sale. Maybe Jeter is pushing for it, since he saves a boatload of payroll liability? Maybe he is against it, since he loses a superstar to build around?..........Second, this means that all MLB GMs, including Billy Eppler, already chose once to pass on the notion of taking on Stanton's contract. But now that he has cleared, his name is still being linked to more than one target team...........Finally, I also wonder if the Albert Pujols example looms in the minds of baseball executives? Stanton's contract pays him out to the age of 38, but that won't happen until 2028. And in 2028, a $25 million baseball payout won't mean what it means today...........

We live in that Brave New World we predicted when shaking our heads at dinosaurs such as Mitch Albom and Murray Chass. Major League Baseball tams are now so universally committed and armed to advanced statistical analytics and investigation deep into what makes baseball work that player agents are now completely outgunned. In other words, the money has spoken, and the truth of baseball knowledge has won out over the touchy-feely. The dinosaurs are melting into the ooze of time..........

Oh, isn't this just a happy time for the MSM. Now that the Yankees and Red Sox are back above mediocrity (though not by much is measured against the Angels' record), the nation is invited to ignore any and all other interesting stories that might have risen in recent years and return to the fawning over the Boston-New York rivalry. Because little else matters...........

The one group of players seemingly unaffected by the rise in home run power appears to be the group of ace pitchers. This supports the old adage of good pitching beats good hitting..........

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The Duffle Bag

Aaron Judge is on the verge of history after all. The wrong side of history...........Ian Kinsler has gone off on All-Star umpire in spite of sucking big time Angel Fernandez. That's gonna cost him. We should all take up a collection to pay off Kinsler's fine.........Tampa Bay outfielders get a quick reminder that playing on turf can make you look stupid............The Blue Jays and Rays also seem to need some remedial training on infield pop flys and running of the bases.............Rougned Odor set a new standard. He went from home to home, scoring a run, without having to do anything himself. We need to name this after him. I vote a "Smelly"............

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Jordan Serena Destiny Watch

Serena got into his second straight game, and with that tiny amount of momentum he improved to 1 for 4 with a critical RBI contributing to the 2-0 66ers win over Lake Elsinore...........That's Serena's 25th RBI on the season, and he also had his 8th stolen base in 51 games with IE............

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