Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Some way, somehow, our Lads are staying afloat here, not completely dropping out of the AL West race.

Saturday night, around seven or eight innings into the game (which I was watching very late on the DVR), I was ready to give up on the season. The lead felt insurmountable, given the way we were playing, and the impending loss seemed just too iconic to not have meaning.

Bad hitting, a lead negated by an obviously fatigued and struggling Scot Shields ... after the 9-0 blowout handed us the night before, it was just too much. But, somehow, the Tigers gave us opportunities with errors that we actually took advantage of, and we came out with the extra-inning win. Given the total swing in emotion, from utter hopelessness about the whole season to the jubilant victory, this may have been the best game of the year.

Mike DiGiovanna must have agreed with me and written his coverage of the article in the eighth inning, however, as his report on the game was 98% a discussion of what the Angels have to do next year. No disprespect meant to Mike DiGiovanna, but I repeat: this was maybe the best game of the year. Probably deserved some coverage, don'tcha think?

The last two games have brought us sterling starting efforts from Kelvim and Jered, and Frankie is just on a tear in the ninth inning. I hereby predict that he will give up another run this year, and quite probably blow a lead at some point, but all that early-April talk about his breaking down, his impending injuries, and his unreliability is talk of the past, and a reminder that you always have to take two-week performances with a grain of salt.

Of course, the road is not getting easier. We have six-and-a-half games to make up and 24 games to do it in. Stranger things have happened, but we must confess that the journey from here on is uphill.

One of the things we'll need is a productive Scot Shields. One day, one year, at some point in our history, the Angels are going to have to come to terms with the fact that throwing five gazillion pitches in a junior college game doesn't mean you can pitch nearly every day in the major leagues years later.
Month       2003    2004    2005    2006
April 0.77 4.91 1.23 1.15
May 2.21 1.10 2.81 1.98
June 2.16 3.79 3.57 4.05
July 2.21 2.45 1.06 3.55
August 5.05 3.00 4.38 4.50
Sept/Oct 3.09 4.42 3.86 4.50
Those are ERAs; as you can see, Scot tends to get worse as the season goes on, and as his workload begins to take a toll.

The problem, of course, is that with Brendan Donnelly's aging and decline, there's no one else to really go to in key situations. Everyone knows this. It's too late to do something about it this year, but it's something we have to take into account for 2007. But I'd still take a beaten-down Scot Shields over most set-up guys in this league, so I have no problem with the fact that the next month may live and die in large part on him.

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