Purgatory Online

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

The Angels' 5-1 victory over the Mariners last night moved the club to 82-61, guaranteeing them a winning season. The 2002 team went 99-63; the current squad would need to go 17-2 from here on in to match that.

So far, the Angels are 39 games over .500 counting from the start of the 2000 season. Counting from the start of the 1994 season, they are exactly at .500.

On to more important things: by and large, last night was a good game for the Angels - any win now qualifies as a "good game" - though it's starting to get to the point that an Anaheim win without an Oakland loss is making me hear "tick tock" sounds. Yes, they've got six left with the Athletics. But that last road stretch - four in Texas, three in Oakland - is going to be brutal. It may be imperative to be at least tied, and preferably a game or two ahead, before going in to that. In which case, the Angels may need a sweep of the A's during their series in Anaheim.

A couple of things concerned me. I thought Shields looked a little shaky, a little less crisp than he usually does. And Casey Kotchman is not going to make any significant contributions to this club, at least not this year. Darin Erstad is apparently suffering from back spasms, and is day-to-day, but the Angels will need him back ASAP. I missed seeing Kotchman's single, but in his other at-bats he looked totally overmatched, and he made at least two mental errors at first base. Since the Mariners are starting a lefty tonight, Scioscia has indicated that he might start Andres Galarraga at first if Erstad is not available.

After Rodriguez finished taking care of business in the ninth, I flipped over to catch the end of the Rangers-A's game, just missing the brouhaha in the bullpen. The Rangers' broadcast team was studiously avoiding replays, despite the fact that the delay in the game lasted longer than the reign of the Emperor Constantine, but my understanding is that Frankie Francisco threw a chair at a heckler, hitting a woman and breaking her nose. The general consensus seems to be that Francisco should be suspended, which I'm certain will be the case, though I also think it's a little out there to pretend like ballplayers should be expected to take any abuse without reacting. They're human, folks, and in an unprotected environment like the 'pens at Network Associates Coliseum, things can get downright scary. Remember when Robbie Alomar spat at Hirschbeck, and how everyone treated it as an unforgivable sin? Supposedly, though, Alomar was reacting to Hirschbeck calling him a "whining spic," which somehow almost never made it into the story. If you can't spit at a racist, I don't know what kind of world we're living in.

(NOTE: I have no idea what Hirschbeck called Alomar, if anything. As far as I know, that's never really been resolved, nor does it matter. The point is that there are times when you need to know what happened on both sides before you start up with the righteous wrath).

Of course, throwing a chair into a crowd is a much more irresponsible act than hawking a loogie at the specific guy you've got a problem with while he's standing by his lonesome, and I completely agree that Francisco deserves to be punished. But I also know that, if I knew what provoked him, I'd probably sympathize a little.

Anyway, the Rangers managed to blow the game a couple of times, thanks to some of the most comically terrible late-inning pitching and defense I've ever seen. So we're where we were yesterday - two back of Oakland. For what it's worth, Boston's lead in the wildcard is 4.5; they start a set with Tampa Bay today.