It may not have been a slugfest or a pitcher’s duel, but it was definitely a game. And rest your pretty little heads; for the Halos would storm back from a not-insubstantial deficit, building us all up just to let us back down. See, you may not hear it play at awkward moments in the stadium anymore when the Angels seem poised to break through with a game-tying knock, but “Buttercup” is making a comeback. Nay, it was inside of us all along!
Maybe it’s just a negative way of saying that a team is showing their fighting spirit or a flowery euphemism for “anti-climactic failure,” but it is what the 2019 Angels have come to embody. Let’s look at the facts.
In this 6-game losing streak, the Angels have had 8 plate appearances with the bases loaded.
6 of those 8 have been in the 7th, 8th, or 9th innings.
2 were with no outs. 2 were with 1 out. 4 were with 2 outs.
The Angels slash line in those 8 plate appearances have been .000/.000/.000 with a wRC+ of -100.
Most problematic of all, 4 of those 8 plate appearances have belonged to Zack Cozart and Peter Bourjos (Interestingly enough, Andrelton Simmons also has 2 of them despite leading the team with a batting average of .391 over the last 6 games).
So is it lineup construction or the fact that the bench is being utilized improperly or slumps or brainfarts, or is it just sheer, dumb, bad luck? The answer is probably a little of everything. Buttercupping isn’t method-specific, it is about results— well, the lack thereof.
We can microanalyze all day long how Bourjos shouldn’t have been batting against Rosscup in the bottom of the 7th or question why Albert Pujols would finally hit a homer when Andrelton Simmons didn’t hit. We could assign blame to Trout for his struggles today or call out Trevor Cahill’s second consecutive garbage appearance. We can beg and plead for our lefties to bunt against the shift and our managers to stop platooning against player splits and our Jonathan Lucroy to stop running into outs on the basepaths, even when that out unintentionally allows Simmons to score.
The beauty of the buttercup is in its spontaneity and its originality. It allows for exciting performances from the likes of Brian Goodwin, who presently looks like the best player on the team, bar none. Objectively watching this unpredictability unfold is often just as enthralling as the games it impacts.
For instance, only the Great Buttercup would allow for Pujols to both tie and pass Ruth’s official* career RBI count in the same game as a humiliating defeat against a staff of pitchers that would likely go unrecognized if they were guests at MLB Network’s Studio 42. And of course that 1,993rd RBI all-time came on a blast that reliever Anthony Swarzak’s children’s dog will be feeling in the morning.
The Angels lost 6-5 to the Seattle Mariners, but they now go into tomorrow’s series finale with a hidden advantage: many of us have now been led to believe whole-heartedly that we will be receiving a high level draft pick, but you had better believe that we will be buttercupped there too.