A decidedly boring game got interesting and dramatic in a big hurry, and not in a good way for the Angels. SPOILER ALERT: The Bullpen of Perpetual Sorrow was involved!
It was just another typical Dan Haren start in which he got no run support. Like I said, typical. But just when Angel fans started to feel like the win was in the bag, Scioscia attempted to atone for yanking Haren too early in his last start by keeping him in too long, sending him out to start the 7th, where he promptly recorded an out before surrendering two singles. In came Scott Downs, the most trusted (and by most trusted, I mean only one we trust) Angel reliever. But even Downs is not immune to the bad luck that has plagued the Bullpen of Perpetual Sorrow. First, a flare falls in center. Then Downs can’t cleanly catch a comebacker that could’ve been an inning-ending doubleplay. That set the Halos up perfectly for Nick Markakis to hit a seeing-eye grounder through the left side to give the O’s the lead.
Yep, another blown save. And you can’t even really blame Downs for it. Maybe Sosh deserves some blame for not having Downs start the seventh, but Haren didn’t exactly look like he was running out of gas.
But lo and behold! A Kendrick homer to tie it up!! The Baseball Gods have finally smiled upon the Halos!!!
One inning later, Angel Campos suddenly decides to go from the widest strike zone known to man to the smallest. That led to LaTroy Hawkins issuing a leadoff walk. Leadoff walks always haunt you. Sure enough, Nick Markakis, the man who grumbled about the strike zone the most in the game steps up and delivers yet another groundball with eyes that is just barely out of Howie Kendrick’s reach. Orioles up one. Game over, since we all know this Angel team only has one comeback in them per game at most.
So much for the sweep. So much for the winning streak.
- I almost never complain about balls and strikes, but Angel Campos’ zone today was sponsored by FEMA. Just a disaster. It was all over the place. On that fateful extra inning at-bat by Markakis, Hawkins “missed” down-and-in with the first pitch for a ball. The next pitch was in the same spot, only further down and further inside. Somehow this was a strike. Never a good sign when fans of both teams are griping about the strike zone. Robots now!
- Poor, poor Dan Haren. He was absolutely filthy today. His splitter was sharp and his cutter was breaking like a slider. Baltimore had no chance of squaring him up. I should’ve known that he was having too good of a day for him to actually get the W.
- I’m giving the bullpen a hard time in this post, but really, Downs and Hawkins pitched just fine. Neither of them got beat on bad pitches, Downs especially. These kind of games just happen sometimes. Of course, they happen a lot more when the offense can’t score runs.
- Alberto Callaspo finally started hitting. That’s too bad because it is only going to make the logjam at third even harder to figure out. Things were just starting to get easy for Scioscia since it looked like Beto wasn’t going to heat up with the bat. You know what that means, don’t you? More lineup permutations! Hooray!!!
I know it is harsh to give it to Howie after he tied the game with a homer, but he also had a shot at fielding Markakis’ game-winner in extras and compounded it by fanning with the tying run on third in the bottom half of the inning. From hero to goat, just like that.