Finally, a big inning. Better yet, a big two-out rally.
All it took for the Angels to sink the Mariners on Thursday night was a five-run sixth inning. Halo fans have been waiting since last October really for the Angels to finally breakout for just one major rally to prove that the offense was actually capable of catching fire. Granted, that was all the offense the Angels generated, but it still is a glimmer of hope that they can turn things around offensively.
Speaking of big innings, Joe Saunders did a fantastic job of avoiding a big inning of his own earlier in the fourth inning. The 3-2 change-up he threw to Wladimir Balentien with the bases loaded to end the threat took massive huevos. That right there was a perfect example of why Saunders continues to enjoy such success even though the statheads believe he is due to implode thanks to how much contact he allows. Saunders may not have the best stuff out there, but where he excels in is craftiness and keeping hitters off balance. Maybe major league hitters will eventually figure him out, but until then, I see no reason why he can’t continue to be a very good big league pitcher.
Of course, I nearly soiled myself in the bottom of the sixth inning after Saunders was slow to get up after a lunging attempt to field an Endy Chavez infield single (and he was out, by the way). The prospect of the Angels losing yet another starting pitcher to injury had me poised to commit harikiri, but fortunately Saunders was able to hop up and show that he was just fine. Disaster averted, underwear still clean, intestines still intact.
Highlight of the night:
- The two-out five-run rally! From the bottom half of the order no less. Matthews, Rivera and Izturis with consecutive RBIs? Has hell frozen over?
Lowlight of the night:
- Big Bad Vlad being a surprise late scratch from the line-up with a strained pectoral muscle (more on this later today, check back soon).
- Joe Saunders, 7 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, what else can you ask for? He shut down the Ms and manned up to stop the losing streak.