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Griffin finds leather far more than wood, builds a gem with said materials somehow

I thought the Dodgers were supposed to be a challenge or something.

MLB: Los Angeles Dodgers at Los Angeles Angels Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Angels 5 Dodgers 3

Sometimes stat lines don’t tell the whole story. On a warm night in Angel Stadium against the visiting crosstown rivals, a pitcher’s duel between upstart Griffin Canning and Cy Young frontrunner Hyun-Jin Ryu was well worth the price of admission for all the wretched blue-clad attendees.

Canning threw 6 innings and allowed 3 runs. One would call that a quality start, but it is the kind of quality start that makes that one dude in the group call out, “Well, is a 4.50 ERA really that high of a quality?” That guy —who knows why we even hang out with him— would then go on to cherry pick the sub-9.0 K/9 on the day and the two hit-by-pitches, much to the chagrin of everyone. Today, Griffin forced that guy to bite his tongue and take another swig of his bottle instead.

Those that witnessed the game in real time may understand that the story goes a bit deeper than that, but Rhett Bollinger and Matt Birch had a few tweets after the 6th that perked some ears.

I imagine the first question on everyone’s minds is, “Well, which is it? 18 or 19 whiffs?” I could go back and count, but does it matter? It actually did matter to me, and it is 18 by my count. The best part is that 6 of those came in his final inning, his highest count in any inning this game. 5 of those were with runners on 1st and 2nd, as he pitched his way out of the no-out jam.

Of course, he still allowed three runs, so Ryu must have outperformed him, right? With two fewer hits, 3 of which came in the 3-run second, I would be hard-pressed to say that that is true. Yes, the results worked out for him, but Ryu pitched in and around baserunners quite often, leading him to an early exit after the 6th. This set the stage for a glorious Angels comeback.

In the top of the 7th, Cam Bedrosian was fire. It is a little weird to write, but he has become one of the team’s most reliable pitchers, period. When he comes in at the start of an inning instead of the middle, I feel confident in his ability. I’m not sure if it’s ample time to warm up or just a weak constitution with runners on base, but he is just flat-out good with zero outs and zero on.

In the bottom of the 7th, Mike Trout.

Dylan Floro is no moro, Griffin Canning doesn’t get an undeserved loss, and Ty Buttrey works around baserunners in an ultimately scoreless 8th.

Joe Kelly, on the other hand, would not be so lucky. Shohei Ohtani came in to pinch hit for Kevan Smith*.

*Okay, serious question. Why do we keep using Kevan Smith as a DH? Just use him as the freaking catcher. Do we pride ourselves in having no backup option in case something happens to Lucroy? Is this the real reason why David Fletcher didn’t hit for Wilfredo Tovar later in the inning? Is David Fletcher actually our backup backup or was that just a joke by Brad Ausmus? At this point, I’m not sure, and I worry about what will happen if the Angels are playing against left-hander and something happens to Jonathan Lucroy while Smith is at DH. Maybe Fletcher can frame. If so, why is Lucroy here anyway?

He walked on 4 straight pitches. Calhoun struck out next, but an errant pickoff throw would allow Ohtani to reach second. After two straight balls, the Dodgers elected to intentionally walk Brian Goodwin, who was pinch hitting for Cesar Puello**.

**Okay, one more thing. Did you really take out Cesar Puello for Brian Goodwin because you can’t pinch hit for Jonathan Lucroy here because of the aforementioned not having a backup catcher thanks to having Kevan Smith as DH? Are we in this situation because of the exact problem I mentioned earlier? I’m very confused and I obviously am not cut out for managing because I might actually consider having an option in case we don’t score while also simultaneously trying to score. Having a plan A, B, and C instead of just a plan A is possibly crazy enough to work. But so is this and it does. I’m rambling about decisions that seemingly don’t matter now, but this is just the most recent in a string of pinch hitter and catcher decisions that are strange at the very least.

Jonathan Lucroy comes up to bat*** and sees two wild pitches. One of them moves the runners over, the other is inexplicably not advanced on after Ohtani doesn’t take a secondary lead. This is becoming a recurring theme, specifically on 3rd base. Maybe it’s the coach’s fault? We blame a lot on him and I feel okay with this.

***Like seriously. Is this not the perfect time to use Brian Goodwin? Cesar Puello was OPSing 1.300 with a batting average near .500. Goodwin is batting almost .300 with an OPS around .800. Lucroy is struggling to stay above the Mendoza Line with an OPS rivaling Rengifo at the bottom of the lineup. If Kevan Smith was available, this wouldn’t even be a question.

He walks because Kelly has no idea where the ball is going.

Wilfredo Tovar steps up to the plate even though David Fletcher is available according to Rojas and Gubi. Miraculously, he softly dribbles the ball to Max Muncy who tosses it softly enough so that Ohtani arguably beats the force. After the Dodgers challenged the bang-bang play, the call on the field was upheld (though to me and probably thousands more, it looked too close to call).

Another wild pitch scored Goodwin and then Kelly remembered that the zone is probably a better spot in which to store your baseballs.

Robles pitched around baserunners in the 9th, and the Angels looked like a legitimate baseball team again. Funny, everyone keeps saying how hard this Dodgers team is. They looked pretty easy to me. Cody Bellinger ain’t so tough.

The Angels sweep the guys who are blue in more ways than one tomorrow. Kenta Maeda loses to King Felix. Maybe you want to make it to the park and ensure that the boos don’t drown out Victor’s calls this time?