Angels' magic number: 23

Yes, it’s that time of the year when you can calculate how many wins of the first place team combined with the defeats of the second place team equals a division title. The Angels’ magic number stands at 23 after a not-so-simple calculation. Here is the official formula:

Number of games in a season (plus) 1 (minus) wins of first-place team (minus) defeats of second-place team.

In the Angels’ situation as of the end of play Friday, here is the calculation:

162 (plus) 1 (minus) 80 (minus) 60 (equals) 23.

To anybody good at math, I salute you.

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Angels stay with what works

Not much in the way of lineup changes today, one day after the Angels handled the Mariners with ease in the opener of a key three-game series. The only difference from Monday is that Reggie Willits and Garret Anderson will switch responsibilities. Willits will be the left fielder instead of the designated hitter like he was Monday. Anderson will be the DH. Here is the lineup:

Willits LF
Cabrera SS
Guerrero RF
Anderson DH
Izturis 3B
Matthews CF
Morales 1B
Kendrick 2B
Mathis C

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It was a true "Blue Monday" for M's

Yes, the Seattle mayor really did decree that the opening day of a three-game series be referred to as “Blue Monday.” He was, of course, trying to make a connection with the team’s dominate color, but he ended up describing the mood in the Emerald City after the Angels rolled to a 6-0 victory in the opener and built a three-game lead in the AL West. Not everybody participated with the “blue” theme, though.

Here is how the Seattle media reviewed the team’s depressing day:

The Seattle Times claims the Mariners aren’t worried about a 6-0 defeat. Forget that their manager was kicked out, their vaunted offense was handcuffed, and the Angels basically did what they wanted to Monday.

The Seattle Post Intelligencer wonders what it’s going to take to score a run off John Lackey. When you consider that Lackey hates all division opponents as if they stole his bike, rises to the occasion in big games and can pitch a shutout with strep throat, finding answers could take come time.

The Tacoma News Tribune compared the series to a boxing match. It hasn’t been much of a fight so far.

The Everett Herald credits the fans with having more energy than the Mariners players. No argument here.

How to sum it all up? Considering that after this series, the Mariners head on a road trip to Cleveland, Toronto, New York and Detroit, things aren’t looking so good for those gutty little Mariners, who had truly been putting a scare into the Angels.

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Angels to go national on Sept. 9

The Angels were notified today that their home game on Sunday, Sept. 9 against the Cleveland Indians will now be the ESPN Sunday night game. The game had been scheduled for 12:35 p.m. but will be changed to 5:05 p.m. to accommodate a national television audience. It is the second ESPN Sunday night game for the Angels this season. Their game on Sunday, July 29 against the Detroit Tigers was also shown to a national audience.

UPDATE: Sept. 9 will actually be the third ESPN game for the Angels. They already have learned that their Sunday, Sept. 2 home game against the Rangers also has been changed to an ESPN night game.

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Can Willits swing under water?

The story has made the round so many times that Angels fans can recite it by heart. While he is building a home on his property in Oklahoma, Reggie Willits also constructed a metal building that he planned on using as a batting cage. Since the metal building was up and running last year, the Willits family (Reggie, his wife and his young son Jaxon) decided to make living quarters in the batting cage and that’s where they have resided.

Willits said Friday, that widespread flooding in the area where he lives had reached his property. He said that about three inches of water entered the batting cage/temporary residence, in the middle of the night recently while his wife was sleeping. There was only slight water damage to the new house, which is about a month from being ready.

It looks as if Willits’ house will be ready once the season ends, but he is thinking more along the lines that he will believe it when he sees it.

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Santana still looking for excuses

Ervin Santana returned to the Angels with a flourish last Friday at Boston. He held the Red Sox to just one run and set the Angels up for a victory. They first blew the lead Santana helped them build, but a late rally still gave the Angels the win. Then Santana started acting up, looking every bit of the 24-year-old that he is. Actually, that would be an insult to 24-year-olds.

Santana wouldn’t look at the media as he had his answers to questions translated by first-base coach Alfredo Griffin last Friday. Santana apparently had said his answers to questions in English had been misinterpreted earlier this season so he wanted translator. Fine with me. Makes perfect sense.

Now comes a story in today’s Los Angeles Times where Santana says the media is bad, bad, bad. Please. There is not one Angels beat writer with evil intentions. Not a one. This crybaby just made sure nobody in New York, Boston or Chicago — all tough media markets — ever thinks about signing him one day.

Santana just made himself look like the spoiled young ballplayer who saw some adversity for the first time in his career and did not have any idea how to handle it. He still is handling things poorly, which makes you think that once some adversity comes his way again, he will implode like he did so famously in the first half. A pitcher goes 1-9 on the road to start the season and his biggest gripe is that the media doesn’t know how to do their job? I see only one person in this scenario who isn’t doing his job properly and he isn’t carrying a notebook and a laptop.

It really gets you to think about something. I wonder how much Windex it takes to clean that glass house Santana resides in.

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Anderson in elite company

Garret Anderson’s 10 RBI night Tuesday against the Yankees was a rare feat indeed. He becomes just the sixth player in the last 38 years to get 10 or more in a game. The list is as follows:

12 -Mark Whiten, STL (Sept. 7, 1993) – tied Major League record set by Jim Bottomley with St. Louis (Sept. 16, 1924)
10- Garret Anderson, LAA (August 21, 2007)
10 -Alex Rodriguez, NYY (April 26, 2005)
10 -Nomar Garciaparra, BOS (May 10, 1999)
10- Fredd Lynn, BOS (June 18, 1975)
10- Reggie Jackson, OAK (June 14, 1969)

* American League record is 11 RBI set by Tony Lazzeri (NYY), May 24, 1936
courtesy of Elias Sports Bureau

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Speed cleaning

Between games of today’s doubleheader the cleaning crew seems to have picked up the large pieces of trash in advance of the gates being opened again. All it took was a little over an hour. This being a day-night doubleheader, all the fans were asked to leave Fenway Park after the Red Sox beat the Angels in Game 1. The crowd of 36,686 made it out in a timely fashion and now the last bits of trash are bing picked up in the center field stands.

The field also has been prepared already with the dirt dragged and the foul lines and batter’s box freshly painted. It seemed to be a preparation effort of the highest order. While it sounds like the cleaning crew did a heroic job, remember, Fenway Park is much smaller than Angel Stadium and only the large pieces of trash were cleaned. The night crowd is going to have to deal with peanut shells, sunflower seeds and popcorn on the ground, along with any spilled beer and soft drinks. Hey, you can’t have everything.

So are the Red Sox any better at keeping the stadium rats away? One Angels player, who wished to remain anonymous, said the Red Sox’s rats are still bigger than the Angels’.

The Angels are winding down between games with some players watching the Martin Lawrence comedy “Black Knight.” Maybe somebody is brushing up on how to ride to the rescue after the 8-4 defeat earlier in the day.

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Game 1: Red Sox 8, Angels 4

That hurts. The doubleheader game the Angels figured to take from the Boston Red Sox was a complete disaster, ending in an 8-4 defeat. Needing a lengthy outing from John Lackey, the right-hander threw 46 pitches in a six-run first inning for the Red Sox. He was gone after four innings having thrown 97 pitches.

The Angels got their hits off Red Sox newcomer Clay Buchholz, just not enough timely ones. Buchholz allowed three walks and eight hits but rode the offensive support to the status of newest hero in Red Sox Nation. The outing was Buchholz’s major-league debut and outside the park free Buchholz T-shirts were going to anybody who purchased a bootleg, unlicensed program.

With their late-night arrival in Boston and their early wakeup call for the first game of the doubleheader, the Angels simply looked tired. Vladimir Guerrero threw a ball away for an error and a Red Sox run. Communication was even an issue. Guerrero and Reggie Willits bumped in right-center with Guerrero making the catch. Garret Anderson and Chone Figgins collided in short left field with Figgins making the catch.

There simply wasn’t much to remember about this one. Now the Angels have to face 15-game winner Josh Beckett in Game 2 and try to hold him off with newly recalled Ervin Santana. Hey, the Red Sox were able to trash a 15-game winner in Lackey. For now, their best hope is to do the same to Beckett.

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Trains, Planes & Automobiles … just for a doubleheader

So you say it would be great to follow a ballclub around? Seems like a prime gig to watch a ballgame every day at work and chat with the players afterward. Admittedly, it beats a real job. But it isn’t always prime seats in the press box, all the hot dogs you can eat and virtually unlimited access before and after games. Travel days are where things even out and travel days like today (Friday) are where you make your money. Now I’m not complaining, but get this …

Just to get to this day-night doubleheader was a chore. After getting out of the ballpark in Toronto at 11:30 p.m. or so Thursday night, it was off to get as much sleep as possible. Luckily there is a hotel in the Blue Jays’ stadium. After four hours of the most restless sleep ever (why did I have a dream that I was camping in the parking lot of a ballpark with some family members?) it was off to the airport. It’s Toronto so don’t forget that customs takes at least a half hour.

The one-hour plane ride was a snap, landing in Boston at 8:30. By the time the luggage arrived and the cab got to the hotel in Boston it was 9:30. Mercifully, there was a room ready. A restless one-hour nap was followed by a jammed-packed subway ride to the ballpark (now I know what the olive at the bottom of the jar feels like). Arrive at the park, scarf down lunch and take my seat for first pitch. And to think, there are 18 more innings to go. The day is only starting.

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