Purgatory Online

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

After Seattle's 14-inning victory over Oakland last night - on a balk, for God's sake - the A.L. West standings got a little bit tighter. Oakland's still out in front at 8-5, but the Angels are a game back, Texas is two back, and Seattle is three back. Get used to it.

After their day off yesterday, the Angels start a three-game home series with the Rangers tonight. Heading to the mound tonight is, of course, Ramon "You Doormat, You" Ortiz, who made his previous start against Texas into an audition, assuming someone in the stadium was looking for someone to play the role of Dresden in a World War II documentary. The day off theoretically gave Scioscia a chance to skip Ortiz, but ultimately I think maintaining the rotation right now is a good call - after all, if he's going to melt down completely, I'd rather know it sooner as opposed to later.

Now, Ortiz did have a decent start against Seattle his last time out, but it's fairly obvious, even at this early date, that Seattle's lineup lakes a certain...potency. The Texas lineup differs from the Seattle lineup in much the same way a doberman differs from a shih tzu. An old, wheezing, arthritic shih tzu. And if the Angels are going to win this one, they're going to need Ortiz to throw those first-pitch strikes, and avoid situations in which the Rangers know he has to come over the plate.

The offense is also going to have to help out. There's no question that they were pretty ineffective against Hudson and Zito, but...well, that's Hudson and Zito. Tonight, they'll be up against Kenny Rogers, and that's a whole 'nother bucket of chicken. The Angels got to Rogers for six runs in six innings ten days ago - a game Rogers won. All six of the Angels runs came in the fourth inning, and account for two-thirds of his runs given up this season - in his other two starts (both against the A's), Rogers has given up a total of three runs.