Happy Birthday to Nick Maronde, and what a generous man he is. Giving US the gift of a smooth Angels victory on his special day. Goodness what a guy, keeping the Angels bullpen from imploding on top of itself after a rough but highly effective outing by Dan Haren that was almost ruined by Garrett Richards. I don't know what your guys obsession with Richards "potential" as a reliever is, I just don't like him as a reliever at all. Yeah sure he has the "stuff" to excel at the job, but he obviously doesn't have it mentally because he always craps out when he comes in to a tough situation.
Except for one appearance in Oakland where he dominated the side in the 9th inning to close out a game and earn a save, other than that he always gives the opposition a great chance to attack the Angels rather soft bullpen hard. This isn't the time to complain about Richards relatively weak standing as a reliever, the Angels swept Oakland in grand fashion with nearly everything clicking together.
Let's just hope the rest of the Wild Card hopefuls lose tonight so the Angels can grab some real ground in the chase, we're gonna need it to prepare for this upcoming week of Wild Card warfare.
-- Dan Haren had a pretty strong start aside from his bi-polar tendencies early on in the game. Haren constantly see-sawed between letting everyone get ahead on him in the counts and serving up walks to tearing through hitters. The real turning point was Haren escaping a bases loaded jam with one out and bailing out teammates Kendrys Morales after a poor fielding choice that allowed the bases to load up for the A's. The A's did manage to scratch a run across with the bases loaded, but after Haren responded with two quick outs to hold the teams then 3-1 lead. Haren was only able to go 6 innings into the game, mostly because of his high stress pitch count (98 pitches 58 strikes), but he was able to limit the damage to only 1 run off 3 hits and 7 K's and secure the win for his team.
-- The offense clicked early today, stayed dormant for the majority of the ballgame, then inexplicably awoke in the 9th inning to tack on multiple runs to give the team much needed breathing room going into the bottom of the 9th. Hunter came through with 3 RBI's, further solidifying his case as a still able major league starter even at his age. Kendrys ended up doing something more amazing than his 2 home runs in one inning game in Texas this afternoon, well...I might be exaggerating a little bit but some supreme control of the strike zone for a typical free-swinging Kendrys is very rare these days especially when you take into account his 3 BB's today. Another strange sight was Kendrick coming through with this situation hitting, a bases loaded two out single allowed the Angels to take an early lead that would last throughout the game. If the offense can keep clicking like this through the rest of the month a playoff spot would be more than certain. If you can consider a Wild Card spot securing a post-season berth.
-- Brandon McCarthy exited the game early after being struck in the head by an Aybar liner. He was able to leave the field on his own two feet and was reported to not lose consciousness as he made a trip to the hospital to get checked out. It sounds like he's going to be ok, nothing serious to get worried about with him. Scary moment for both Oakland and Angel fans.