Thursday, April 23, 2009

Take 'Em Any Way You Can Get 'Em, Boys

Photo: AP

To tell you the truth, I’m not sure what score I was expecting to see when I woke up this morning, but it sure wasn’t what I got. I guess maybe I was expecting the score to stay the same (It was 8-6 Angels when I fell asleep). But hey, any time you can pull out a win in that ballpark, it’s good, even if it wasn’t pretty. Verlander couldn’t stop the bleeding in any given inning, save for the fourth, though he consistently looked like he was on the verge of doing so. Once again, he didn’t get any help from the guys behind him, as Ryan Raburn horribly misplayed at least two fly balls in right field (when they say that the Angels put pressure on the defense, I don’t think that’s what they mean). They were both ruled doubles (the official scorer was extremely generous in giving out hits, for both teams), but the first miscue likely cost Verlander three runs and a lot of pitches (and whatever else you may say about Verlander, I’d like to point out that it IS unusual for him to give up a lead once he’s been given one, unless the start is against Chicago or Cleveland). And I know they say that as a pitcher, it’s your job to pick up your defenders when they make a mistake, but it’s gotta be hard when you’re forced into getting about five extra outs per game. I can’t comment much on the bullpen because I slept through that whole thing, but it looks as though Rodney now has an ERA (don’t know if the balls were hit hard, though I’m assuming the double was, but he didn’t walk anybody). However, we know Rodney is going to go through wild phases. The key for him is to limit them to one or two outings between long “good” phases. He was able to do that in 2006. And as I’ve said before, strange things happen on the west coast (hey, they had fans running around on the field last night…that certainly counts as strange).

I did watch the 5-run seventh inning this morning on the archives, so I’m up to speed on that. Basically, the Tigers got gifted the win, cuz very few balls were hit hard in that inning, but I suppose you have to give them credit for getting into the part of the Angels’ bullpen that has been struggling. Joe Saunders was not very sharp and kept falling behind hitters, so he only lasted five innings or thereabouts. Granderson seems to be picking things up a bit, but I missed the Inge home run so I can’t comment on that (Every time I saw him, he was hitting pop-ups). And I know people are getting antsy about Magglio and the lack of extra-base hits, but I’ll take the high average any day of the week. He’ll find the gap eventually. Guillen is also looking better at the plate, so that Achilles must not be hurting as much.

In keeping with our theme of strange things on the west coast, did anyone else notice Galarraga in the dugout last night wearing sport glasses? I suppose someone else did because Mario & Rod DID point it out on the air. I’ve never seen them before, though somehow I did know that he wore contacts. At any rate, I was taking part in the comment section at
Bless You Boys (which I don’t often do cuz I usually can’t abide all the whining and nonproductive criticism that goes on during games, regardless of the website), and I mentioned that I’d never seen Galarraga wearing glasses before. I loved the reply, courtesy of Ian Casselberry: “Nate Robertson’s fumbling around the bullpen, looking for his glasses.”

Well, if we’re gonna take this series, today brings as good a chance as any. Edwin Jackson has looked strong throughout the season so far, save for the first few innings of his start against Texas. However, there are two things to keep in mind. The first is that his previous three starts have all been against teams that he has good career numbers against. That is not the case with the Angels, although he won his only start against them last year. The second thing is that the strategy of the Angels hitters seems to be to make the starter throw a lot of pitches early (hmmm…must be the influence of Bobby Abreu), and so far they have been successful against both Galarraga and Verlander. I don’t know how you combat that except for having good command and painting the corners, which is not automatic even for the best pitchers. Matt Palmer has been called up from the minors to make the start for the Halos. He’s had a little big-league time, but not much success, and he was struggling in Triple A but apparently he pitched well in Spring Training and the Angels supposedly think he’s pitching better than his numbers. Now, that could be a genuine assessment, or it could just be the normal BS-type stuff that they’ll say about any callup (However, I do remember when they called up Armando Galarraga last year, the ONLY talking point they had was “Well, he’s been the best pitcher for Toledo so far”). I work tonight, which isn’t an issue since it’s a late-night game, but with the early rise tomorrow, I’ll have to sleep off the late innings yet again. At least after tonight we’ll be done with the damn west coast for a while.

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