Sunday, July 20, 2008

No One Said It Would Be Easy

Listen, it's always fun to go to a baseball game. But I think we can all agree that it's much more fun when your team doesn't get destroyed, as the Red Sox did on Friday night in Anaheim.

It started off badly, when Buchholz gave up three runs in the first inning. But then it got a little better, when Youkilis smoked a two-run homer just inside the left field foul pole (the ball landed maybe twenty feet from me), and then Ramirez led off the fourth with a solo shot to tie the game at three.

Buchholz seemed to be settling down, until the sixth inning, when the wheels just completely came off. I don't want to get into details, because they're depressing, but Buchholz sucked, and then the bullpen didn't really help matters, and the final score was 11-3, Angels. Not cool.

It didn't get much better on Saturday. I didn't see any of the game, but I heard a lot on the radio, and it really seemed like Beckett was dealing until the seventh inning. The Sox had a 2-0 lead going into the inning, and Beckett had allowed the Angels only one baserunner until that point (Figgins, who led off the game with a double but didn't score). But Guerrero led off with a solo homer. Two hits, a sac bunt and an intentional walk later, Aybar hit a triple down the right field line, and the Angels suddenly led 4-2. The Sox got two on with one out against Francisco Rodriguez in the ninth, but both Ramirez and Lowell popped up, and that was that.

I've now gone to Sox games in Anaheim five years in a row, and I really feel like they've lost virtually every game I've seen down there. I don't know the real stats, but maybe one day I'll look them up to see what kind of damage I've done by appearing at the games. What I do know is that the Sox might suffer against the Angels in the regular season, but the Angels seem to get the worst of it in the postseason. I'll take that.

Now the Sox sit 1.5 games behind the Rays in the A.L. East. Not great, but we still have plenty of time left in the season. Tonight (on ESPN), the Sox will play their 100th game.

As for the Dodgers, they were in first place for a day, and now find themselves a game back, thanks to a split in the first two games of the series against the Diamondbacks. The Friday night game was a doozy, which I basically had to keep up with on the out of town scoreboard at Angel Stadium. I saw the Dodgers go up 3-0 in the first inning, then fall behind 4-3 after the bottom of the first, then 6-3 after the bottom of the second. The Dodgers scored twice in the third to make it a 6-5 game, then the Diamondbacks added another run, and it was 7-5, Diamondbacks.

Kuroda definitely didn't have anything for the Dodgers, but I guess the lucky thing is that the bats responded and took care of Doug Davis. And after solo home runs from Garciaparra and Kemp, in the sixth and seventh innings, respectively, the Dodgers found themselves in a tie ball game. The bullpen pitched nine total innings in this game, giving up one run on seven hits, walking three and striking out eight. It was a great performance from those seven guys (Johnson, Beimel, Falkenborg, Kuo, Park, Wade, Broxton), but it would have been for nothing if not for a great defensive play from DeWitt in the bottom of the ninth. I still haven't seen video, but it sounded exciting on the radio. With the winning run at third, Ojeda hit a ball down the line, which DeWitt backhanded, then spun and fired to first to get the out.

That play allowed the game to continue, and Loney, who had gone 0-3 until that point, led off the eleventh inning with a solo home run to give the Dodgers an 8-7 lead. Broxton came in for his first save opportunity since Saito went to the DL, and he did not disappoint. Delwyn Young made a good catch in left field for the first out, and then Broxton struck out the next two guys to end the game and give the Dodgers the win, as well as a piece of first place in the division.

Saturday, they gave the lead back to the Diamondbacks. Billingsley was a bit shaky in the first, and gave up two runs, then allowed another in the fourth. He threw a lot of pitches (114 in 5.2 innings) and just couldn't match up to Dan Haren's performance. The Dodgers mounted a rally in the bottom of the ninth, but left the tying run standing on third.

Today it's Derek Lowe versus Brandon Webb, so expect a lot of ground balls, and possibly a Dodger loss. The offense rarely scores for Lowe, and that becomes a much more difficult prospect with Webb on the mound. So, unless Don Mattingly has some magic formula for the hitters, this could be a tough one.

Buchholz warms up before the game. Perhaps he should have taken a bit more time.

Papelbon signs a few autographs (none for me, though).

I was seated in the front of the section straight down the left field line. For some reason, the closer you get to the bullpens, the lower the seats get (or higher the wall gets). This is the eye level view from my seat. See how you can only sort of tell where home plate is, just barely above the top of the wall? Yeah.

Smoke covers the field after fireworks that followed a Garret Anderson home run. I always think that's a stupid thing for a ballpark to do.

Manny Ramirez.


Rob said...

1) Blame Bill Veeck for the home run fireworks. It's a tradition he started with the Chisox, and there are a number of teams that do that now (the Angels being one of them, but I think also in Cincy).
2) Angels vs. Red Sox season series, back to 2001:

2008: 8-1 (two three-game sets in Fenway, both sweeps)
2007: 4-6 (two road series for the Angels)
2006: 3-3
2005: 4-6 (again, two road series)
2004: 4-5 (five games at home)
2003: 3-6 (six games in Fenway)
2002: 3-4 (four games at Fenway)
2001: 4-3 (three at Fenway)

This year is the first time since 2001 that the Angels have assembled a winning record against the Red Sox. It's not just in the postseason that the Boston nine have been beating the Angels.

Erin said...

Thanks, Rob. I suppose I could have looked that up myself, but I was just being lazy and going with my memory. I appreciate the factual support.