Tuesday, April 30, 2013
Game of year: A's win, Angels in trouble
By David Schoenfield
You cannot lose a game like this if you're the Los Angeles Angels, not when leading 6-2 in the eighth inning, not while coming off losing three of four to Seattle, not when your team is struggling and staring at a second straight disastrous April.
The Angels did lose to the Oakland A's, when Brandon Moss' two-run walk-off homer in the 19th inning gave the A's the dramatic 10-8 victory in a game that lasted 392 minutes and required 597 pitches to compete. It might end up being the game of the year. The painful defeat dropped the Angels to 9-16. They're already 7 games behind the Rangers and 5 games behind the A's in the AL West, and you have to wonder if long-time manager Mike Scioscia will survive much longer.
Angels manager Mike Scioscia might be running out of time to save his job after another slow start.
I made it into the 17th inning before calling it a night (hey, it was 4 a.m. on the East Coast!). Some thoughts on a game that began with A's fans chanting "Thank you, Josh! Thank you, Josh!" in regards to the fly ball that Josh Hamilton dropped last year in the final game of the regular season, helping the A's beat the Rangers to win the division title, and ended with Moss swatting a Barry Enright changeup over the wall in right:
The thing to remember about Scioscia is that GM Jerry DiPoto didn't hire him; he inherited him. After a second straight slow start, maybe the Angels will make a change just to shake things up. The Angels have missed the postseason the past three seasons, and are now looking at a fourth straight October on the bench if they don't turn things around in a hurry. That doesn't mean there's an obvious replacement available (how about Joe Torre on an interim basis?) and maybe the Angels don't want to signal panic, but I would say it is time to panic. The Angels might also have to consider that Don Mattingly isn't exactly on firm ground with the Dodgers, who might happily scoop up their popular former catcher, a turn of events that could be a PR disaster for the Angels.
Look, everybody knows this team was built around Mike Trout, Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton. Trout is off to a slow start, Pujols hit two home runs on Monday but is hitting a mediocre .265/.359/.439 and Hamilton is hitting .202/.246/.298. He looked terrible in going 0-for-8, with several ugly swings, especially against left-handers. He looks pretty helpless against lefties, getting tied up inside and is hitting .172 off them with 15 strikeouts and one walk in 32 plate appearances.
Kudos to relievers Jerome Williams and Brett Anderson (who was scheduled to start for Oakland but scratched because of a sore ankle) for soaking up innings. Williams deserved to earn the win after the Angels took the lead in the top of the 15th on a bases-loaded walk to J.B. Shuck that left Anderson barking at home-plate ump Kerwin Danley as he walked off the mound. (He did retire Trout to escape the jam). Josh Donaldson began the bottom of the 15th with a routine grounder that second baseman Howie Kendrick bobbled, but Pujols simply dropped the throw. Derek Norris walked but Williams got a double play before Adam Rosales' two-out single tied it up.
Anderson finally left after 5.1 innings, but Jerry Blevins threw 1.2 scoreless innings for the win. Williams went six. While Anderson's outing was a unique situation, Williams showed the value in having a good long relief option in the pen. A guy who can pitch multiple in extra innings is more valuable than having a third LOOGY in your pen.
The A's delivered with two outs all night. In the eighth, Melvin hit Chris Young for Josh Reddick when Scioscia brought in lefty Scott Downs, and Young singled to make the score 7-6. Scioscia ended up bringing in closer Ernesto Frieri for a four-out save anyway, but why not bring him in to face the struggling Reddick? He should have anticipated that Melvin would go to Young there. In the ninth, Yoenis Cespedes (who hit a big game-tying home run on Sunday) came through with a two-out blast off the left-center fence to score Coco Crisp.
Mark Trumbo hit a monster 475-foot moon shot in the second inning, tied with Anthony Rizzo for the longest home run this year. According to ESPN Stats & Info, it was the longest home run in Oakland since the ESPN Home Run Tracker began measuring home runs (in 2006), and the ball left Trumbo's bat at 120.1 mph, the fastest of any home run this season (by 3 mph).
The few fans left at the end of the game were chanting the names of A's announcers Ray Fosse and Ken Korach.