One of the prime theories we were operating under during the off-season was that Jerry Dipoto had knowingly built a shaky rotation. But to make up for the rotation's deficiencies, he had loaded up on bullpen reinforcements so that Scioscia could shorten the game for the starters. The problem with theories is that they don't always prove true. Take tonight for example.
Joe Blanton had his best start of his Angel career, but that is just damning him with feint praise. He wasn't very good at all having allowed 12 hits in six-plus innings of work without striking out a single batter. That he gave the Angels a chance to win the game was more a lucky side effect than anything else. But the Angels did get that chance, staking Joe to a three-run lead entering the seventh. This is exactly how the plan was supposed to work. Only it didn't.
Scioscia tried to steal a little bit of rest for the bullpen by letting Blanton start the seventh, presumably because the Halos are going to be forced to use Jerome Williams to start this Thursday with Tommy Hanson going on bereavement leave. That may not have been the smartest choice since the very hittable Blanton allowed a hit. That led to Michael Roth coming in and giving up a jamshot bloop single to Berkman. Oh, well. But it was not well because Dane De La Rosa was called upon next and he took that small spark of bad luck and fanned it into a real conflagration. Still, the Angels had a shot to get out of the inning with the lead, only a high-bouncer off the plate by Jeff Baker resulted the tying run scoring.
It was hardly the most egregious bullpen meltdown, but it was one brought about by Dipoto not building enough bullpen depth for his plan to actually work. He knew he was taking a risk on Ryan Madson, who has yet to throw a pitch for the team and he couldn't have planned for Jepsen to get hurt, other than someone always gets hurt. Even in a best case scenario, the bullpen always felt like it was one arm short. Tonight, the whole short-handed bullpen fell short up to and including Ernesto Frieri who failed to hold up his end of the bargain by failing to keep A.J. Pierzynski in the park.
This is isn't first time this has happened this season and it won't be the last. Sooner or later, Dipoto is going to need a new plan.
– Ernesto Frieri has allowed six hits this season. Two of those six hits have left the park. This is always going to be the hting that holds Ernasty back and makes Dipoto want to replace him as the closer.
– The Hamilton in the five-hole experiment actually worked! We've seen some flashes from him before, so temper your enthusiasm, but he got four hits, including three off of the lefty Holland. In general, he seemed more comfortable and in control at the plate. This could be just the kick to head he needed to get him going.
– I can't begin to tell you how much I look forward to the day A.J. Pierzynski retires. Seriously, when that happens I am throwing a party at my house and you are all invited.
– Now it is time to wonder if Albert Pujols' foot is bothering him at the plate. After showing good discipline and barely striking out to start the season, he has racked up six whiffs in the last fifteen plate appearances. Also, let's all just pretend I didn't write that long post last week about how his plate discipline had returned
I really want to blame Joe Blanton because he just seems like he is to blame for everything. Alas, I must put the true blame on Er-not-so-nasty for his continued problems with allowing the long ball.