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Thursday, July 28, 2005

I AM A CURSE
One day after springing Gustavo Espinoza into the world's eye in my Watch List Update (well, maybe not the world's eye, but anyway ...), I look at Rob's invaluable minor league update (and if you don't check that every morning, what's wrong with you?) and learn that Espinoza got spanked yesterday, allowing seven earned runs in five-and-a-third. He did strike out eight against only one walk, though, so he seems to have had at least some of his stuff.

Also, Espinoza pitched four scorless innings before giving up three runs in the fifth (on a three-run homer, Espinoza's first home run allowed in the United States) and getting knocked out in the sixth. He only gave up two hits in those four innings, striking out five and walking one. And this is on a day with a gametime temperature of 107 degrees.

***

Last night's despicable Angel loss reminds me of one of my favorite Angel victories.

It came during the otherwise forgettable 1996 campaign. It was on July 2, 1996, to be be exact. The Angels were hosting the Rangers, and trailed 5-4 going into the bottom of the ninth.

Texas manager Johnny Oates dispatched his closer, Mike Henneman, to secure the victory. Due up for the Halos were Darin Erstad, Rex Hudler, and Garret Anderson.

Erstad reached on a single. Rex was asked to lay down a bunt, which he did. Fortunately for the Angels, Henneman fielded the bunt and promptly threw it wildly down the right field line.

When the dust had settled, The Punter had scored the tying run and Rex stood on third.

With the potential tying run 90 feet away, and no outs, Oates ordered intentional walks to Garret and Tim Salmon. Chili Davis stepped to the plate.

But before he did, Johnny Oates walked out of the dugout carrying a first baseman's mitt. Was Oates announcing himself as the new first baseman? No -- he gave the glove to left fielder Rusty Greer, and arranged the team in a five-infielder setup.

Oates returned to the dugout. Chili Davis dug in at the plate. Would Oates' maneuvering work?

We'll never know because -- you guessed it -- Henneman threw the very first pitch to Chili in the dirt and to the screen. In comes Rex; Angels win.

I've relished that game ever sense. I guess last night's loss was an instance of Baseball Karma coming to get me. Once again, I am a curse.

(You can check out the box score of that game here.)

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