An Angel series win over the Rays in which home run heroics saved the day for the Angels.
Game 1 – Angels 6, Rays 3
Game 2 – Rays 4, Angels 3
Game 3 – Angels 4, Rays 3
Los Angeles Angels of AWESOMENESS
- Optimism week went out with a bang… literally. The Halos used some timely home run hitting to take an impressive series win (and nearly a sweep) over the Rays, who entered the series as the best team in baseball. First it was Brandon Wood’s “Holy $#*!, NO WAY!” game-winning dinger, then Juan Rivera’s “Oh, yeah, I forgot he used to be kinda good” should have been game-winning homer and finally Sunday’s long ball barrage by Bourjos and Abreu. All in all, not a bad showing for the Halos and one that has to leave them feeling like maybe they still got it a little.
- Hank Conger didn’t exactly light it up at the plate, but his results behind the plate continue to be impressive. In his first career start last week, he caught a shutout. In his second career start, he caught what should have been a Dan Haren shutout if not for Bobby Abreu taking a detour on his route to catching a flyball that ended up being a two-run double. And if you thought it was just Hank getting lucky enough to catch for two aces, he follows it up by guiding Scott Kazmir to five innings of one run ball. It is still a pretty small sample size, but it would seem Conger might just have the defensive chops to please Master Scioscia.
- Speaking of Kazmir, he took yet another small step forward in his recovery from “forgot how to pitch”-itis. While his pitch efficiency still leaves much to be desired (a career long problem, by the way), he did limit the Rays to just one run on six hits and only two walks while also striking out four. More importantly, he only allowed one extra-base hit and didn’t let any nerves about facing his former team in his old home for the first time get to him. That being said, he also seemed to revert back to being scared of throwing his slider, as I counted maybe two or three sliders in his five innings of work. The optimistic part of me hopes that he is learning to be a better pitcher by not relying on it, but the not optimistic side of me wonders if he just didn’t get a little lucky.
- Jordan Walden picks up his first career save! Sure, it was a one out save, but I’ll take it. That Scioscia went to Walden there instead of Jepsen or (ugh) Fraudney (who would’ve been for a third straight day, so that was unlikely anyway), shows how quickly the rookie has impressed. But has he impressed enough to earn some shots at a “real” save this season or next?
- Not a lot to say about Joel Pineiro’s comeback performance other than it pretty much looked like he picked up right where he left off, save for the abbreviated pitch count limit. Lots of strikes, lots of grounders and a solid all around performance. Welcome back, Joel. Keep up the good work because we will need it in 2011.
- And now, an update on tampering with Carl Crawford. I know money ultimately trumps everything, but you can’t tell me that Crawford didn’t notice that the Halos just came into Tampa and nearly swept the Rays, even though the Angels have nothing left to play for. If I’m Carl Crawford, that tells me what a great clubhouse and coaching staff they have in Anaheim, and something I won’t soon forget (until Hank Steinbrenner hands me the keys to the Scrooge McDuck-esque vault where I can swim in money that is now all mine).
Los Angeles Angels of FAIL
- OK, I know it is optimism week, but I am having a hard time finding anything positive to say about Fernando Rodney. Fraudney had yet another three hits allowed blown save. The man is just too hittable to be used in the closer position and I don’t think that even Scioscia can pretend that he trusts him anymore. I guess the positive spin here could be that Fraudney is playing right into my evil plan to suck so bad that the Halos realize that they need to replace him. I just never thought it would be this painful to watch my scheme unfold.
- It was hard to tell from the angle I saw in replays, but, maybe we should cut Brandon Wood a tiny bit of slack for his game-losing errant throw. I’m just saying that maybe if they had a real first baseman instead of Napoli, that ball could’ve been dug out. If the throw was too wide to make a play (I was watching the game on my tiny, non-HD TV in the bedroom, so it is entirely possible), then I take it back.
- WTF? Conger now has three starts. Even Kevin Frandsen got a start and yet Mark Trumbo continues to not get any playing time. C’mon, Sosh! Time is running out and I am pretty sure the Halos don’t need to be spending more at-bats “evaluating” Hideki Matsui.
Halo Hero of the Series
For all the crap that I have given him this season, Brandon Wood absolutely has to get the award for this series. The kid FINALLY did something good with his game-winning homer on Friday and for the first time in a long time, he has a reason to feel confident about himself. If he ever does turn his Angel career around, I guarantee you that home run will be something he points to for a long time as when his turnaround began. I just hope he didn’t let the error that he made to cost the Halos the game the very next night bother him too much. He should have made that play, but to be fair, he hasn’t exactly gotten a lot of work at shortstop lately. Nor should we fail to mention that Rodney’s earlier failure is the only reason Wood was put in that position. As for Wood, at least the failure came in the field, hopefully allowing himself to separate that struggle from his struggles at the plate. Congrats on your first ever Halo Hero award, Brandon. Let’s just hope it isn’t your last.