Purgatory Online

Monday, July 21, 2003

The Angels left Baltimore yesterday bleeding from just about every orifice they've got. For whatever reason, the Orioles have had the Angels' number this year, and actually came within one game of sweeping the season series between the two teams. As it was, the rather humiliating four-game sweep in Charm City this past weekend dropped the Angels to 1-8 on the season against Baltimore, and the only silver lining is that they don't have to play them any more this year.

The Friday, Saturday, and Sunday games were huge regressions for a starting staff that had finally begun to build some confidence. On Friday, Jarrod Washburn was victimized by the big inning, a five-run first that the Halos actually came back from, only to fall in the late innings when Frankie Rodriguez gave up a game-winning home run. Saturday, Kevin Appier melted like Velveeta in a blast furnace, coughing up seven earned in a mere 1.3 innings. Sunday, John Lackey was torched for six runs in five innings, four of those runs scoring in the sixth inning, when he put the first four batters on base and Frankie Rodriguez gave up a grand slam.

Meanwhile, as the Angels were suffering through what will probably, at the end of the year, be looked back on as "The Goddamn Baltimore Series," their division rivals were faring little better. Oakland dropped four in Minnesota, and Seattle lost three out of four to Kansas City, so, despite the horror show, Anaheim dropped just one game in the A.L. West race. Of course, they also lost a huge opportunity to make a move upward in the standings. Additionally, Boston and Toronto split a four-game series, meaning the Angels lost two games in the wild-card race - and fell behind Toronto again.

So, is that it? Is this, as it were, the end of Rico?

Not yet. As I mentioned, the Orioles just plain had the Angels' number this year. These things happen. For years now, the Angels have had the advantage over the Yankees, even during years in which the Angels were destined for sub-.500 seasons. The question becomes whether these four games will send the Angels into a tailspin, or whether Aaron Sele, Ramon Ortiz, and the offense can take out some of those frustrations on a bad, bad Tampa Bay team tonight and tomorrow night. Because if you can't get well against Tampa Bay...well, there's just no cure for what ails you.