OK, I know I said last night that the Angels should start using Vlady as a full-time pinch-hitter, but I wasn't actually serious. Now I am rethinking my stance after he and Torii Hunter's pinch-hitting heroics keyed a comeback against Tim Lincecum.
An otherwise listless line-up got all the spark it needed when Hunter and Vlad led off the eighth inning with pinch-hit singles before Chone Figgins, Erick Aybar and Juan Rivera battled Lincecum to cash in for the three runs they needed to take the lead. Perhaps Sosh can run with this idea. Why not bench Figgins for Sean Rodriguez and call-up Reggie Willits again so he can take Juan Rivera's spot. Then, in the late innings when the Angels are down and undoubtedly being shutout, just pinch-hit all the regular starters right in a row. Instant eight-run rally. That would be unstoppable. I am a genius.
Or, maybe the Angels should look back at this win and realize how lucky and gritty they had to be to pull it off. This game is a great example of what having a more positive mindset can do for a team. I still remember that 2002 World Series team. Their offense was no better than this incarnation of the Angels, but they were so feisty that they never really felt out of a game and had so many rallies that now we are stuck with a leaping spider monkey as the team's unofficial mascot. They recaptured a little bit of that old magic today and would be well served to hold onto it as long as they can.
- OK, I promise not to say anything bad about Robb Quinlan for at least a week since he gunned out Matt Downs at the plate, preventing what would have been the tying run from scoring.
- Matt Palmer didn't get the win, but he pitched well once again and gave the Angels a chance to win. I keep waiting for the league to figure Palmer out, but I am really starting to think that it isn't going to happen, at least not in a major way.
- I almost forgot that Erick Aybar was actually fast. He picked a great time to swipe just his third bag of the season. I know he is not an on-base machine, but he really needs to run more if he wants to make himself more valuable.
- Izturis, Aybar, Quinlan, Matthews and Mathis all in the same line-up? Was Scioscia intentionally trying not to score runs? Bejesus. No wonder they didn't rally until Torii and Vlad came off the pine to pinch-hit.
- I don't think I am asking too much from Gary Matthews to at least try and resemble a big-league hitter so that the Angels can at least have a chance of duping someone into trading for him.
- I love that the score-keeping system in the majors is so arcane that Kevin Jepsen gets to pick up a win because he was lucky enough to have the runner he inherited get thrown out at the plate. Still, a win is a win. A few more lucky moments like that and Jepsen might get his ERA into the single-digits yet.
Juan only had one hit, but that hit allowed the Lakers to get on the board against Lincecum early and then his situational hitting came through in the eighth inning to drive home the winning run.