I worried before the game that his emergency relief appearance this last weekend might have a lingering effect on Dan Haren, but he proved in a big way tonight that those worries were completely baseless.
Instead of suggesting that Haren might be off his game because of one inning of relief work as I did in the game preview (umm, oops!), I am now changing my tune entirely and wondering if he should pitch in relief between starts all the time. He didn't just dominate the red-hot Indians tonight, he toyed with them and kept them from getting anything at all going but for one flare that went for a base hit.
What I loved about this display of dominance is what it forebodes for the rest of the season. There is obviously a lot of baseball left to be played this year, but with the way both Weaver and Haren are pitching so far, the Angels can be very, very scary the rest of the way and even scarier in a best-of-seven series (if you see what I'm hinting at).
And kudos to Mike Scioscia for leaving Haren in there to finish out this gem. He got crap in the media for letting Weaver throw 125 pitches the other night, but he didn't back down to the public pressure and made the exact same decision by letting Haren pitch the ninth and finish the game with, you guessed it, 125 pitches thrown. The lesson? Pitch counts are for pansies.
- And now let me rain on the parade just a touch by pointing out that Danny still didn't get much run support. Good thing he didn't need it, but the team's inability to score for him remains a mystery.
- On any other night, Peter Bourjos would've been the Halo Hero, but that doesn't make his strong performance tonight any less impressive. After scuffling to start the season, Speedy Petey isn't just settling in, he is getting locked in and making consistent hard contact. He jumped all over an inside fastball to smack his first homer of the season and then followed it up with a double. After barely getting the ball out of the infield the first week of the season, Bourjos' last four hits have all been for extra bases, and in key situations no less.
- After watching Bourjos let a ball up against the wall get away from him last night, Torii Hunter seemed to take a little extra delight in making that highlight reel catch at the wall in right-center. That's how it is done, kid!!!
- It took eleven games, but the Trum-bomb has landed. Keep an eye on Mark now, as most power hitters in his mold tend to go on home run binges. With his raw power, we might need to build a Trum-bomb shelter if he really gets on a roll.
Not only was Haren's performance terrific, it might have been the most Halo Heroic performance of the season so far. I'm tempted to give it to him twice, and I think I will. It's my blog and I'll do whatever I want, dammit!