Aaaaaaaaand, no sweep for the Angels. Aw, shucks. That's too bad. It sure would've been nice, but it just wasn't meant to be.
Even without the sweep, this series was still a resounding success for the Halos. Obviously, they won the series, but the big thing they did was get in the Rangers' heads. Not only did Texas play some self-admittedly tight baseball these three games, it actually reached a point that the tight play forced Ron Washington to take a page out of Mike Scioscia's playbook by holding a "closed door meeting" after Saturday's game.
Too bad that meeting worked on Sunday... kind of. For the first several innings, it was yet another tight game that saw the Angels mount a comeback effort by capitalizing on sloppy Texas defense. The only problem for the Halos is that the cure for a tight opponent is apparently bringing in Bobby Cassevah.
Thanks to an uncharacteristically high pitch count for Dan Haren, Scioscia had to turn to the bullpen to start the sixth inning. He chose Cassevah. He did not choose wisely.
On one level, I get the selection of Cassevah since Scioscia likely wants to evaluate Bobby to see if he deserves to stay in the majors when LaTroy Hawkins returns next week, but bringing him into a tight game is a bit questionable, though not exactly an egregious error. What was an egregious error was not having a quicker hook with Cassevah who quickly demonstrated an utter lack of command. The second Bobby drilled Mike Napoli, Scioscia should've gotten someone up in the pen. Presumably he didn't because he was just so darned pleased to see Napoli get plunked.
But that isn't even the bad part. Where this bullpen choice went from bad to inexcusable was allowing Cassevah to start the seventh inning. Again, I see the logic Scioscia was using, hoping Cassevah could hold it together for two batters before handing things over to Hisanori Takahashi who would face the lefties due up after that. What I don't see is why Jason Isringhausen or David Carpenter couldn't have handled that instead. Cassevah was so bad that after he fell behind Nelson Cruz, Mike Butcher came out to the mound and appeared to scold Bobby for pitching so timidly. Cassevah responded to that tongue-lashing by immediately throwing a cookie to Nelson Cruz that resulted in a 484-foot blast, the longest home run in the majors this year and one of the longest ever in Angel Stadium history.
Too bad Cassevah didn't hitch a ride on that rocket because it could've given him a head start on the flight back to Salt Lake he should be taking soon.
- Speaking of Carpenter, he might actually be the one getting the boot back to the minors. He barely got throught he eighth inning and then fell apart in the ninth. He has been getting hit hard in every appearance for almost a month now, so it Cassevah could wind up getting a reprieve if only because Carpenter has been even worse.
- One last poor relief effort to mention, good ol' Jordan Walden. Actually, there is not much "good" to mention. Walden's outing on Saturday wasn't great, but he did sort of have the excuse of getting squeezed by the umpire to hide behind. Today, though, he managed to throw some strikes, but they were too hittable. Part of me thinks that his two-inning effort, a career-long for him, against the Yankees earlier in the week might've somehow thrown his mechanics out of whack. The other part of me thinks that this is just normal for him because his delivery has so bizarre and unrepeatable that he is never going to display consistent command of his fastball.
- And now we find ourselves in an unenviable position with Torii Hunter. He is clearly very rust after his long layoff and probably shouldn't be playing right now. However, he can't get the rust off if he doesn't play. That is a paradox that is further complicated by the fact that he was in a wretched slump before his leave of absence that makes one wonder if Torii's days as an everyday player might not be coming to an end very, very soon.
- I'm really starting to like what John Hester is giving the team with the bat. After today's game, Hester is sporting an impressive .406 wOBA thanks to his good plate discipline and that timely homer he hit. Really, he should be playing more but he won't. His defense is getting a little embarrassing. I know Craig Gentry is crazy fast, but you have to throw a guy out on a pitchout. If memory serves, this isn't the first time Hester has failed to nail a guy on a pitchout either. That won't sit well with Scioscia.
- It didn't take long for Albert Pujols to win back the Angel crowd, did it? He was being booed lustily a month ago, but when he came to bat with the bases juiced late in the game, everyone was cheering for him. It didn't work out, but the fans still didn't boo.
16 strikes on 37 pitches. Hard to take advantage of being a groundball specialist when you don't throw the ball over the plate, Bobby.
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