Purgatory Online

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Man-oh-manimal. I'm still pretty damn tickled about last night's win.

The writeup of the day comes from the Orange County Register, which describes Colon as pitching "stoutly." As someone once said, that's not as easy as shooting fish in a barrel - it's as easy as looking at fish in a barrel.

A few impressions from last night's game: first, it's amazing how Angels fans have appeared at away games since 2002. For the first 32 years of my life, I was the only Angels fan I knew. Hell, I was the only Angels fan anyone I knew, knew. Of course, I lived in Atlanta, St. Paul, and Chicago, so it's not like I was all that close to Anaheim, but still.

Now, I go to games and see Angels fans all the time. Last night, there were at least six or eight within a couple of rows of us, including the couple right next to us. I don't know if the 2002 team made that many fans, or if it just made it okay to reveal yourself, but it's nice to see.

Second, the game attracted just over 20,000 paying customers. Okay, it was a Monday night, but the Monday before, the Angels had 39,074 in attendance when they played the also-ran Mariners. 20,000 people show up to watch a high-scoring pennant contender take on one of their division rivals in the last week of games? Shameful. And the excuse - that people were staying home to watch the Cowboys play the Redskins on Monday Night Football - is even more pathetic. Several of the people in my section were actually using their binoculars to watch the televisions in skyboxes, which were tuned to the MNF broadcast. These fans don't deserve October baseball.

Guerrero's homer in the second was a flat-out bomb. His next at-bat, he produced a little dribbler to the pitcher that probably traveled 25 feet. Sometimes you just shake your head and move on.

Kenny Rogers, man...that guy can either come back for one more year as a starter and get shelled, or move to the bullpen and be a left-handed relief specialist until he's 60. Erstad had no chance against him in any of his at-bats, and Anderson looked little better.

Bartolo Colon became the first pitcher to ever win six games in a season against the Rangers, finishing 6-0, with an ERA somewere around 2.20. Against that particular squad, that's pretty damn impressive. Whatever his struggles against other teams, he's almost single-handedly kept the Rangers behind the Angels in the standings. He was unquestionably studly last night.

I did, however, have to question Scioscia's judgment in bringing him out to start the ninth. Okay, truth be told, I kind of questioned his judgement in bringing him out to start the eighth. His pitch could was relatively low, it's true, but considering that he'll be starting on short rest in his next start, I kind of figured we'd see Donnelly in the eighth and Percival in the ninth. The flip side of that, of course, is that with EVERYONE starting on short rest starting tomorrow, the bullpen needed to be as fresh as possible, and of course Colon had been a dealin' fool ever since getting out of the fourth.

Figgins's slide to score the Angels' fourth run was brilliant. With one out and Figgins on third, Erstad grounded to Mark Teixeira at first. Figgins was off as soon as he saw it was a grounder, but I was sure he was a dead duck at home. Teixeira double-clutched for just a split second, then threw to Huckaby, but that split second was the difference. Figgins slid past the plate on the third-base side and reached back to tag it with his hand, avoiding the tag, and the Angels led 4-3. This, of course, was minutes after he tripled in the tying run, and an inning later he'd drive in Eckstein to make it 5-3. Nice game, Figs.

The Angels put the infield shift on for both Blalock and Teixeira. Blalock grounded into it in the third and lined into it in the sixth.

That bottom of the ninth...wow. Blalock and Young both had solid singles off Colon. Percival comes into the game and gives up another solid single to Teixeira, bringing up David Delucci with the bases loaded and nobody out, the winning run on first.

If you weren't watching last Thursday's A's-Rangers game, that may not mean much to you. But every Rangers fan watching was remembering that game, in which Delucci came to the plate in the bottom of the ninth with two out, two on, and the Rangers trailing by a run, then lined a double into the corner to win the game. Facing Percival with the bases loaded and nobody out, this looked like another dramatic come-from-behind win for Texas. Even a pair of sacrifice flies would score the game.

So when Percival got Delucci to pop out, it was a big deal. But then he had to face Kevin Mench, who had homered in the fourth and came within a couple feet of doing the same in the seventh.

Again, a pop out on the infield.

And then, the strikeout of Brian Jordan. Three straight chances for Texas to tie or win the game with a hit, three straight harmless outs, courtesy of Troy Percival. I give you Mr. Percival's numbers since the All-Star break:

1.57 ERA.
15 saves in 16 opportunities.
23 IP
16 H
4 ER
6 BB
18 K
.193 BAA

That, my friends, is what you call a closer.

I'll be there again tonight, cheering for the Angels to get to Chan Ho Park early, and give Kelvim Escobar some of that run support he's been patiently wating for lo these many months.