Watching the Angels that last few nights has been an execise in self torture. It's like some sort of sick game you play with yourself. You're not sure where the heartache will come from but you are sure it's coming. Tonight the once reliable pitching staff managed to throw up frizbee after frizbee and the White Sox hitters capitalized. This pitching breakdown comes when the offense seems to have found it's groove after their own struggles. See, frustrating isn't it?
Angels 6 White Sox 8
-- The bullpen was a mixed bag tonight. Jepsen and Isringhausen were solid again but Takahashi and Carpenter were mediocre to awful. Maybe Carp should have tried to hitch a ride to AAA on that homer he gave up to lose the game.
-- I'm starting to wonder if Albert Pujols may not be as clutch as we thought. It seems that every chance he has had to get that big hit has come up short and his homers come when the team is already leading. This is something that bares watching.
-- I'm not one to buy into conspiracy theories, but it does seem the Umps have it out for the Halos lately. The strike zone seemed to expand as the game went on (but only for the home team). Add that to the blown call in the first that would have gotten the Angels out of the inning with minimal damage and you have to at least raise an eyebrow at the role the boys in blue have been playing lately.
Halo A Hole
A lot of experts will tell you that trades often don't lead to the results you would expect. So far, the Grienke deal has not added to the Halo win total. Tonight's loss would seem to fall on his shoulders since he gave up a sick amount of hits. For a ground ball pitcher he sure had the ball up a lot tonight. Here's hoping Zack gets it together in a hurry or the Angels will have given up a lot for a seat wathcing the post-season.
I guess ESPN thinks it's over for the Angels, too. I just realized that Mark Saxon has been moved to cover the Dodgers so the Angels are going without an ESPN beat writer present. I think I'd rather that Saxon had gone out with the emergency appendectomy I was imagining and that was the reason there were no game comments on the ESPNLA Angels Blog. Bummer for us. Irrelevance is Hell. Now I know what it's like to be a Royals fan.
So...after all the improvements to the lineup the Angels made in the off-season, including calling up Mike Trout early on (note that this is not said with any sarcasm), the Angels are worse off than they were last year on this date AND will actually have to pick it up a little to finish as well as they did last season. Wow. Who amongst us saw THAT coming?
An off-the-cuff guess would be that the difference was a sharper Haren and Santana last year but, still, that lineup "featured" Vernon Wells and Bobby Abreu. Does this tell us that the WPA-type of stat is as useless and discredited as any stat the Climatic Research Unit gave us? Hard to tell, I guess someone with more number crunching ability than I have will have to tell us that but I'd imagine proponents would hide behind the "probability" aspect of the acronym. For my part, I didn't think the Angels could play so far below the "probability". Many of their players have had pretty stable careers so you could usually be pretty sure what you were getting.
I'd like to hold more hope because they ARE so improved but yesterday Mark Simon agreed with my comment after the Texas finale and went even farther to say that he felt like Texas had pulled themselves together and, sure enough, going into KC looks like it will just build on that increasing momentum the Angels allowed them. Great, another August with nothing to look forward to? I refuse to cheer for a Wild Card slot, why would the Rangers or Yankees fear them? Besides, the Wild Card is not a lock at this point. Detroit and Tampa Bay are breathing down their necks and reality is in question when Oakland leads them by two in the Loss Column.