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Entries from Empyreal Environs tagged with “Angels”

2B or Not 2B

Dustin Pedroia’s absence from this game was a harbinger of his return to the disabled list. His stint with the team was as short as he was. In the two games he played he experienced pain that wouldn’t subside, so he went back on the disabled list rather than worsen the injury that obviously hadn’t fully healed. He joins an entire cadre of wounded: Hideki Okajima, Junichi Tazawa, Kevin Cash, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Jason Varitek, Kevin Youkilis, Mike Cameron, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Eric Patterson. That’s one-third of a bullpen and a good part of a batting lineup, if I charitably identify Cash as a major league batter. I wouldn’t be surprised if it turns out that Josh Beckett has been playing injured, or perhaps he doesn’t have his endurance back. He stifled the Angels for five innings but imploded spectacularly in the sixth to the tune of four runs. In the seventh the Blue Jays poured it on for three more runs, not just off Beckett but also Manny Delcarmen. The offensive highlights for the local nine were few and far between. David Ortiz homered in the fourth for the early lead and Adrian Beltre tagged on a sacrifice fly to...

Seventh Heaven

The Red Sox jury rigged an seventh-inning comeback with hits by Victor Martinez and David Ortiz and a walk by Mike Lowell. Kevin Jepsen helped Boston with the repair job by uncorking a wild pitch to J.D. Drew that plated Martinez for the tie and plunking Daniel Nava to force Ortiz over home for the winning run. The rousing victory roused temporary elation, but it’s just a sports team winning. There are larger triumphs to pursue. Every year during Jimmy Fund Radio-Telethon time I become melancholy when I meditate upon the people my friends and I have lost to cancer. Last night I looked over pictures of my friend’s daughter’s one-year birthday celebration, an event that people in Hawai‘i observe with lū‘au or party. The little girl lost her father to colorectal cancer. I knew I would get along with L as soon as I met him. We were huge Star Trek fans, both majored in English literature, and got all the same geeky jokes. I never had to worry if I was being too nerdy; in fact we loved to out-geek each other. All the things that we both liked, or that I think he would have enjoyed, or...


Who knew Darnell McDonald picked his jersey number 54 as a mnemonic for his favorite windshield repair company Giant Glass? The outfielder’s third-inning home run cleared the left field wall and shattered the rear window of a Toyota Camry with Rhode Island tags parked in the lot next to Gold’s Gym. I hope he got Dennis Drinkwater’s digits; there has been no sweeter marketing synergy since David Ortiz named is son D’Angelo around the time he had a deal with the sandwich chain. McDonald’s four-bagger also broke the scoreless tie. The sheer spectacle of the shot even overshadowed Torii Hunter’s sensational snare of Adrian Beltre’s fly ball in the bottom of the second. Hunter reached over the Red Sox bullpen’s wall, nearly tipping into it as he robbed the Red Sox third baseman of a homer. Beltre was so upset he ripped off his helmet, not even thinking about how vulnerable it would make him to a head rub. Jered Weaver is the American League leader in strikeouts, no small feat for pitcher facing the loaded lineups in the junior circuit. Last night the hurler didn’t have his ace arsenal: 5 innings pitched, 6 hits, 6 earned runs, 2 walks,...

California Dreaming

I’d be safe and warm... safe and secure, [largest mutual life insurance company’s name here]. Organ flourish. As the Red Sox may not make the playoffs they might as well take out as many teams as they can as they play out the rest of the season. Going into this series the Angels had a half-game edge over Oakland and trailed Texas by seven games. Anaheim had just acquired Dan Haren and Kevin Youkilis disposed of him with a liner off the forearm. While Haren won’t have to make a trip to the disabled list, Boston severely hobbled the Angels’ chances taking over the AL West with the series sweep. Mike Scioscia had to patch together a start with relief arms beginning with Scot Shields. The last time Shields was used as a starter was September 23, 2003, a seven-inning win. Seven years of relief pitching is no way to prepare for a sport start and Shields was chased from the game after a mere one and two-third innings of work. The visitors feasted on the hodgepodge of hurlers; only Darnell McDonald and Jeremy Hermida didn’t get hits. Eric Patterson was a home run shy of the cycle and Marco...

Right Said Jed

He’s too sexy for Pawtucket. Since his return to the majors on July 21 Jed Lowrie has had hits in four out of six games and enjoyed his first multi-extra base hit game of the season last night. His first-inning double wasn’t converted into a run but his seventh-inning two-bagger put his team on the board and ahead of the home team. With two men on and two out, Lowrie’s late inning hit sailed over Juan Rivera’s outstretched arm and bounced to the left field fences. Better defensive positioning or speed on Rivera’s part would have robbed the visitors of the runs, but the Angels clearly underestimated the returning infielder’s power stroke. Jeremy Hermida may have taken a bribe from an Angels fan in the left fields stands to butcher his play on Hideki Matsui’s fly ball knowing that John Lackey would react vociferously. There isn’t a single pitcher, not even the emotionally intense and most recent owner of a no-hitter Matt Garza, who reacts so obviously as Lackey does when fielders don’t do what they should. The Anaheim fans must have been nostalgic seeing Lackey’s explosive reactions to his defense’s exploits. Hermida redeemed himself in the fifth, or rather,...

Haren Scarin’

Were they so rushed to put up Dan Haren’s picture in Angels togs that they couldn’t find a hairbrush? With his unkempt hair he looks like a homeless man or a Nick Nolte mugshot. Haren fell behind in the second inning after surrendering a leadoff triple to Adrian Beltre and allowing a line drive RBI single to Victor Martinez. His Angels debut came to an abrupt end in the fifth when Kevin Youkilis starched a comebacker off the starter’s throwing arm. He fared fairly well in his return to American League hitting: 4⅔ innings, 7 hits, 2 earned runs, no walks, and 8 strikeouts. He was replaced by Francisco Rodriguez. Not this one, the other one. Tony Reagins should have kept both of them just to fool Ed Wade in a deal. The return of Martinez as the Red Sox backstop along with David Ortiz’s continued production are two keys opening the gateway to Boston’s path to the playoffs. One theory that gained currency was that the winner of the Home Run Derby would go on to have a terrible season, something that happened to Bobby Abreu after he won in 2005. In fact, his power outage extended into 2006....

Winds of Change

The Angels jumped to an early lead due to Daisuke Matsuzaka’ first inning wildness. The starter walked three batters, allowed two hits, and inflated his pitch count to 39 pitches; when he finally struck out Mike Napoli to end the inning the visitors had put up four runs. Victor Martinez halved the deficit in the third with a wind-aided two-run homer into the Red Sox bullpen. If Mike Timlin were still around he probably wouldn’t have gotten up to catch the ball with a towel since the fly ball didn’t seem to have a chance to clear the bullpen fence. The fifth inning was as bad for Scott Kazmir as the first was for Matsuzaka. The Red Sox batted around and tallied five runs in honor of Nomar Garciparra. Oh, that was yesterday’s game. Marco Scutaro and Dustin Pedroia singled and doubled respectively with well-hit shots to the outfield. Martinez’s double wasn’t struck particularly hard but it skipped along the first base line long enough to plate two runs to tie the score 4-4. In the midst of the rally, Erick Aybar tried to fake his way into a triple play by dropping Mike Lowell’s liner with runners at first...

Happy Cinco de Nomar

On May 5, the day number five Nomar Garciaparra was feted, the Red Sox returned to a .500 winning percentage. The Red Sox gave Garciaparra two Fenway wooden chairs number 5 (of course) and 6 (for his mentor Johnny Pesky). He also received a watch, a rather cliched retirement gift idea for such a singular player. Current Red Sox players Kevin Youkilis, David Ortiz, and Tim Wakefield came out to hug him and former players Lou Merloni, Brian Daubach, and Trot Nixon made it to Fenway to be part of the celebration. The video retrospective documented the shortstop’s glove adjustments and toe taps. Before he threw out the first pitch he dashed to the infield and pocketed a handful of infield dirt. His pitch to Jason Varitek was delivered with his signature twist and side arm angle. At last the team’s philosophy of run prevention is playing out as planned. John Lackey delivered seven innings of two-hit baseball with two bases on balls and four strikeouts. The only run marring his line was Brandon Wood’s solo homer in the fifth. I hope when Lackey left the mound he looked over in Mike Scioscia’s direction and said, “This is mine.” Woods’s...

Angel in the Outfield

Gauging the trajectory of a fly ball with a thirty-seven foot, two inch wall getting closer with every stride isn’t easy. Just ask Juan Rivera, left fielder for the Angels. His home field is a fairly conventional one; in Anaheim the only opportunity for distraction is if he imagines himself traversing the boulders in center field or refines his plans for a raft accurate to the scale of the fountains to send some Lego minifigs to their certain doom. Rivera ran a puzzled path to Jeremy Hermida’s fly ball to the warning track in the eighth. Even Lastings Milledge, who had a horrific experience in left a few years ago, was dumbfounded by Rivera’s route. The bases emptied as Rivera filled with shame. The three Red Sox runs broke the 1-1 stalemate. Boston capitalized on a bases-loaded situation after Anaheim squandered the same in the top half of the eighth. After his hitters strung together consecutive singles Mike Scioscia couldn’t help himself and put in the call to Brandon Wood to sacrifice bunt the runners over. Somewhere in that gentle night Earl Weaver had not so gentle words on that strategy. Sure enough, Bobby Abreu grounded out to Dustin Pedroia...

Triple Crown

Mike Lowell, whose last name is shared by a city in Massachusetts, hit three doubles. All three Boston area teams, the Bruins, Celtics, and Red Sox, won their respective games tonight. Lowell’s doubles cosmically aligned with the fact the hockey and basketball teams played the second games of their respective series. Just like how today’s team meeting cured all the club’s ills. Terry Francona is a savvy skipper; it’s no accident that the meeting was called the afternoon before his best starter took the mound. Clay Buchholz didn’t have a dazzling outing (5⅔ innings pitched, 8 hits, 4 earned runs, 3 walks, and 2 strikeouts), but with the Red Sox bats knocking in the most runs in a game this season Don Orsillo could have started and they would have won. He does Pilates. The left field wall served as target practice for Red Sox batters. Bill Hall and Adrian Beltre both clouted their first home runs as Red Sox players and Beltre got the silent treatment in the dugout. Kevin Youkilis and Dustin Pedroia added to their homer totals and are the class of Red Sox sluggers; the former is tied for second in team homers while the latter...


ALDS Game 3: October 11, 2009 Angels 7 W: Darren Oliver (1-0)S: Brian Fuentes (2) 3-0 Red Sox 6 H: Daniel Bard (1)H: Billy Wagner (1)BS, L: Jonathan Papelbon (1, 0-1) 0-3 Highlight: Despite cruising at an altitude of 39,000 feet I was able to experience most of this game thanks to Frontier Airlines and DIRECTV. The lower the plane got the less faith I had in the Red Sox winning the game. Watching the final game of the series in an Airbus A319 was a 180-degree turn from my Game 2 experience. There was no smoke, no inebriation, just the plane’s pristine interior shining in the dazzling sun. The sun was as almost as bright at Fenway as it was above the cloud deck. I boarded the plane just in time to see J.D. Drew’s fourth-inning, two-run shot bounce off the post of the camera hut in dead center. Were it Jon Lester’s or Josh Beckett’s start, a 5-1 score would seem safer. But this was Clay Buchholz’s playoff debut, and his hiccup in the sixth inning revealed his anxiety. Torii Hunter led off the inning with a double to left. Perturbed by the center fielder’s presence, Buchholz...


ALDS Game 2: October 9, 2009 Red Sox 1 L: Josh Beckett (0-1) 0-2 Angels 4 W: Jared Weaver (1-0)H: Darren Oliver (1)H: Kevin Jepsen (1)S: Brian Fuentes (1) 2-0 Highlights: In Japanese the word for “four” (shi) is a homonym of the word “death.” The Angels scored four runs; the Red Sox had four hits. I watched the game through a haze of cigarette smoke and alcohol, persuaded by my friend to go to a bar to watch the game rather than remain ensconced and alone at home. I was in a bar nowhere near New England, but there was one guy with a Red Sox cap on and another that was openly rooting for them. There wasn’t much cheering going on, however. The Red Sox didn’t hit very well on the road this season. At home the team batted .284, had .365 OBP, and slugged .498; on the road they combined for .257 batting average, .340 OBP, and .414 slugging. Boston pitchers didn’t fare very well hurling in the bottom halves of innings, either. Opposing batters had .272 batting average, .346 OBP, and .433 slugging against visiting Red Sox pitchers; when at Fenway they only attained .362...


ALDS Game 1: October 8, 2009 Red Sox 0 L: Jon Lester (0-1) 0-1 Angels 5 W: John Lackey (1-0) 1-0 Highlights: Having Don Orsillo as play-by-play man is almost like having a postseason game on NESN. Buck Martinez spoiled the effect by sprinkling in imperceptive comments here and there. Too bad Dennis Eckersley is chained to the studio desk by TBS, it could have been a complete takeover by a regional sports network. C.B. Bucknor is an umpire I have singled out in the past for his poor performance: On my birthday (May 23) two years ago Bucknor presided over a Red Sox/Yankees game with Curt Schilling and Andy Pettitte starting. Bucknor’s strike zone judgment was notably inconsistent in the 8-3 Yankees victory. He was home plate umpire in another Red Sox defeat, this one a 6-5 loss to the Orioles on August 11, 2007. Erik Bedard was openly scornful of Bucknor’s strike zone. In the course of a 9-8 loss to the Orioles on August 31, 2007, Bucknor was hit in a sensitive part of the male anatomy. He seemed to have done a competent job in umpiring this game; it was just amusing for me to...


Game 145: September 17, 2009 Angels4W: Kevin Jepsen (6-3)S: Brian Fuentes (42)87-59, 1 game winning streak Red Sox3L: Billy Wagner (1-1)86-59, 1 game losing streak Highlights: One would think that in a series that featured Daisuke Matsuzaka, Paul Byrd, and Josh Beckett that the last game was a lock for a win. Beckett lasted eight innings, striking out as many batters as hits he surrendered (seven) but also allowing three runs to score. The run in the seventh shouldn’t have counted against Josh Beckett. With two out and men on second and third Jason Varitek allowed the ball representing strike three to pass between his haunches. It was ruled a wild pitch but it was a block that any backstop worth his salt should have made. The second such incident in as many games inspired my friend and I to write a little ditty. The melody of the verse sort of meanders but the chorus is a ripoff of, or shall we say, homage to, Petula Clark’s “Downtown.” I’m so very sick and tired of Jason VaritekHe’s getting quite old and his swing is just a wreck Jason! Jason Varitek!Jason! Jason Varitek!Jason! Jason Varitek! His wife divorced him because he...


Game 144: September 16, 2009 Angels8H: Kevin Jepsen (15)BS: Darren Oliver (1)BS, L: Brian Fuentes (7, 1-5)86-59, 3 game losing streak Red Sox9BS: Ramon Ramirez (4)W: Daniel Bard (2-1)86-58, 7 game winning streak Highlights: Rick Reed may shoulder some of the blame for the Angels’ loss, but Fuentes carries the dubious distinction, along with Mike Gonzalez and Mark Lowe, of being third in the majors for blown saves. Only Brad Lidge (10) and J.P. Howell (8) have failed to close out more games. Fortunately for Paul Byrd this see-saw of a game started with a stiff wind blowing in. The gales kept Bobby Abreu and Vladimir from going deep in the first inning. The Angels scored the first run of the game in the third using their signature smallball way. Juan Rivera led off with a single and advanced to the keystone bag on Mike Napoli’s ground out to third.Casey Kotchman displayed his mad ups, elevating to nearly 18 inches in his attempt to field Erick Aybar’s liner. While Kotchman’s Brian Scalabrine-like vertical leap knocked the ball from its intended trajectory to right field, Rivera trotted home for the first run of the game. Perhaps this sprint home tuckered him...

Shimeidasha [指名打者]

Game 143: September 15, 2009 Angels1L: John Lackey (10-8)86-58, 2 game losing streak Red Sox4W: Daisuke Matsuzaka (2-5)H: Ramon Ramirez (11)H: Billy Wagner (3)H: Daniel Bard (11)85-58, 6 game winning streak Highlights: The Japanese word for designated hitter [指名打者] is simple enough: the first two characters are pronounced shimei and mean designated and the last two symbols are dasha and stand for batter. David Ortiz demolished Jose Arredondo’s eight inning offering, sending it over the center field wall and into the clutches of a lucky fan in the bleachers. The monumental shot was his 270th home run as a designated hitter, surpassing Frank Thomas as the all-time home run leader for DHs. It was a tempestuous season for Ortiz with his first-half stagnation and the leak of his name as a player on the 2003 survey test. This achievement is dubious in the eyes of some, but to me it is still an exceptional accomplishment. Who could have predicted that Daisuke Matsuzaka would return with a quality start: 6 innings pitched, 3 hits, no runs, 3 walks, and 5 strikeouts. The SoSH game thread didn’t. I prepared myself for a game similar to Paul Byrd’s start against the White Sox...


Game 35: May 14, 2009 ∙ 12 innings Red Sox4L: Manny Delcarmen (1-1)21-14, 2 game losing streak Angels5BS: Scot Shields (2)W: Jason Bulger (1-1)18-15, 2 game winning streak Highlights: How do you know it’s getaway day? When Darren Oliver strikes out the side. The Red Sox lost their extra innings affair just in time for me to have a little nosh and switch over to the Celtics. The green team seemed to have the game in hand, so I switched over to the Bruins.There’s something about playoff hockey that grabs you by the throat and won’t let you go. Football plods along four downs at a time and basketball, while more free-flowing, is marred by momentum-draining intentional fouls and free throws. Possession is nine-tenths of the law — but not in hockey. The puck can slide like your grandma’s Impala on an unsalted street. In a quicksilver second it passes from one team to the other then into the goal for a gut-wrenching loss.That it was Scott Walker who scored the winning goal for the Hurricanes wasn’t salt in the wound, it was fluoroantimonic acid in a sucking chest wound. Imagine steroid user Alex Rodriguez hitting the winning home run...


Game 34: May 13, 2009 Red Sox4L: Tim Wakefield (4-2)21-13, 1 game losing streak Angels8W: Matt Palmer (4-0)17-15, 1 game winning streak Highlights: I thought for sure I'd find higher hits for Matt Palmer than the baseball player. There's this computer whiz Matt Palmer, this artist/photographer Matt Palmer, and this musician/composer Matt Palmer. They are all lower in the results than the baseball player Palmer, who emerged from season after season of AAA obscurity to win after win in the bigs. Who is this man? These Matt Palmers should come clean. They are all the same guy. While the Angels hitters were pummeling Tim Wakefield, Palmer was at his laptop designing an odd t-shirt. As Hunter Jones struggled, he changed it up and brainstormed revolutionary ways to use SheevaPlug. After he finished his nine innings, he cooled down at his Korg for an impromptu jam session. And you thought going toe-to-toe with C.C. Sabathia was impressive.No one can really go toe-to-toe with the portly pitcher unless they are concave.Torii Hunter had the sound bite of the evening. When asked about his approach to knuckleballers, the center fielder said, “You don’t need no batting practice, you don’t need no tee. Just...


Game 33: May 12, 2009 Red Sox4W: Ramon Ramirez (4-0)S: Jonathan Papelbon (9)21-12, 2 game winning streak Angels3H: Jose Arredondo (10)BS, L: Scot Shields (1, 1-3)16-15, 1 game losing streak Highlights: Remember the great run Shawn Chacon had with the Yankees in 2005 and how pundits predicted similar success for him 2006? Remember how he got sent to the bullpen right before the All-Star break and was replaced by Kris Wilson in the Yankees’ rotation? Guess who the Yankees gave up to acquire Chacon? Hint: he has four wins for the Red Sox this season. For some reason Ramon Ramirez never found a home with his previous major league clubs. The Rockies traded him in March of 2008 for a player to be named later despite his franchise record of 15⅓ scoreless innings to start his career. The player the Rockies acquired was Jorge de la Rosa.When Boston exchanged Coco Crisp for Ramirez, who knew that the reliever would become the key cog in the bullpen machine that chews up the ends of games and leaves befuddled hitters in its wake? The Royals traded from a position of strength (their relievers have for an ERA of 3.07 in the season...


Game 6: April 12, 2009 Red Sox4L: Josh Beckett (1-1)2-4, 1 game losing streak Angels5W: Dustin Moseley (1-0)H: Jose Arredondo (4)H: Scot Shields (3)S: Brian Fuentes (2)3-3, 1 game winning streak Highlights: Moseley was one of the Angels who gave a press conference to talk about Nick Adenhart. They were friends and minor league teammates. Even though Adenhart replaced Moseley on the major league roster last year there was not a trace of animosity. It may sound like a cliché, but they were more like family than friends. I don’t begrudge Dustin Moseley and the Angels their victory in this game or their series win. It must have been some small consolation given the events of the past week.It was apparent their nerves were raw. They overreacted to Josh Beckett’s plunking of Bobby Abreu in the bottom of the first, clearing the benches to stand behind their new right fielder. Perhaps Beckett’s throw was meant to hit Abreu, but it should be noted that pulling up in mid-delivery is potentially dangerous to the pitcher. There is a reason for the extreme annoyance you see on hurlers’ faces when batters call for last second timeouts.Torii Hunter flew off the handle and...


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