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Friday, July 22, 2005

A CLOSE CALL
Last night's game was thrilling and exasperating at the same time, and when it ended my reaction was more a sigh of relief than a shout of exultation. At no point did I feel that we were going to win; this is not because of losing any faith in K-Rod or anything like that, it's just that I felt that anything that could go wrong would have. I am, of course, quite glad to have been wrong.

The bad news: Bartolo Colon posted his third consecutive bad start, and is beginning to look like The Big Mango from the first half of 2004 instead of the nominal ace we had since mid-July of last year. This dovetails nicely with our offense back in its April/May mode.

Still, Vlad got the big hit when it was needed, Garret had an RBI (his first since July 7th!), and Bengie continued to hit the ball well, stroking an RBIa ground-rule double off of Randy Johnson. And, honestly, scoring only two runs in six innings against The Unit is not a catastrophe, especially when it should have been three runs if not for a #(*$(@#)! Yankee fan in the right field corner (and even then Mike Scioscia had good argument that the run would have scored regardless); sure, his ERA's up a bit thus far this year, but he's still Randy Johnson. And the Angel bats got to the shaky Yankee bullpen, which is exactly what they're supposed to do.

Tonight, our Lads take on Al Leiter, who came out of nowhere to make a helluva good start in his Yankee re-debut. Leiter's an odd type of pitcher at this point in his career; a finesse guy without exceptional control, he blows away no one, keeping the ball in the park and relying on a good defense. Last year he allowed only 138 hits in 173 2/3 innings, but issued 97 walks -- adding up to a not-so-good 5.02 walks per nine innings.

As you probably know from experience, pitcher who rack up big strikeout totals are the pitchers that rack up low batting average against numbers, and vice versa; last year, striking out an unexceptional 6.06 men per nine against those 5.02 walks, Leiter held his opponents to a .218 batting average. This is a unique achievement.

So unique, that it shouldn't surprise us that he got lambasted during his time with the Marlins this year: walking more men than he struck out, he allowed his opponents to hit .292 and had a ginormous 6.64 ERA. I'd be shocked if he really got that bad that quickly, but stranger things have happened.

Given our apparent bullpen advantage over the Yankees, John Lackey will be given the task of just keeping us in the game until the later innings. John had three straight bad starts at the end of June/beginning of July, but for the most part has done just that this season.

We're now halfway through the 16-game gauntlet against the Twins, A's, Yanks, and Blue Jays, and are ahead of schedule with a 5-3 record. The Angels only "need" to go 4-4 over the last eight game to meet expectations, so, all-in-all, I'm pretty pleased with the way the team's playing, and will become moreso if the bats can awaken sooner than later.

Comments:
Good stuff here. Keep it coming!
 
re: the ground rule double

Was it just me, or did Scioscia give up the argument more easily than he usually does? And this time he was right for a change!
 
I still haven't seen it (it was not on MLB.com's highlights).
 
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