A few postgame notes from the Angels’ locker room that won’t appear in my game story:
The Angels’ 10-9 win over the Seattle Mariners was fun for a night. As I pointed out in my game story, they did something that no team had never done, beating Felix Hernandez after falling behind by seven runs.
Because it was such an anomaly it’s hard to extrapolate any long-term, big-picture ideas about what the win means for the Angels. Mike Scioscia tried.
“Hopefully it’ll inspire you the next time you’re down by two, three runs at any time in the game to just keep playing baseball. Hopefully that experience for some of the young guys out there — you just have to experience it, understand it.”
Angels manager Mike Scioscia was asked, naturally, about the play that ended the Angels’ 5-0 loss to the Houston Astros on Friday night.
Josh Hamilton was doubled off first base when he rounded second, and reached third base, after Mark Trumbo popped out in foul territory with one out. Astros catcher Jason Castro lobbed a throw from just in front of the Angels dugout to second baseman Jose Altuve, who was covering first base, for the rare 2-4 double play.
Was that a microcosm of everything that’s gone wrong in a 2-8 season?
This afternoon, Mike Scioscia bristled at the notion that he and reliever Sean Burnett were not on the same page about the non-blister on Burnett’s pitching hand Tuesday. After the game, an 11-5 loss to the Oakland A’s, the Angels did something that teams do when they need to get on the same page. They held a team meeting.
From the outside, it’s easy to misconstrue team meetings as a red flag or a panic button. To the players inside a clubhouse, they’re typically constructive. So it was no surprise that Albert Pujols left Wednesday in what seemed to be an upbeat mood.
“We’re having a good time,” Pujols said. “We’re having fun. We’re talking about eight games.”
The Angels are 2-6 for the second time in the last four seasons. That’s only four games under .500, which is an easy hole to climb out of in a 162-game season — even if the American League West standings look like this:
“Everything always looks worse at the start of the year,” pitcher Joe Blanton said, and right now he couldn’t be more correct.
So why hold a team meeting after eight games?
Sean Burnett was not dealing with a blister, in his mind or on the middle finger of his left hand.
Mike Scioscia seemed to disagree when he left right-hander Kevin Jepsen in to face A’s lefties John Jaso and Brandon Moss in the seventh inning with the southpaw Burnett available out of the bullpen. “Jeppy was the guy to get out of that inning,” Scioscia said, before mentioning Burnett’s blister.
Burnett said that there was no blister. Ever.
“It was more my nail came out of the bed” three days ago in Texas, he said. “It was a one-day thing. It happens all the time with my breaking ball … I was 100 percent.”
Burnett pitched Tuesday. He seemed healthy. He faced four batters in a scoreless eighth inning. Scioscia simply chose to save Burnett for the start of the eighth inning rather than the two-on, two-out situation in the seventh, citing the blister. It proved to be the wrong call.
Whether you attribute the Angels’ 9-5 loss to the Oakland A’s on Tuesday to Scioscia leaving in Jepsen too long, or to Jepsen for allowing two homers in the seventh inning, may be a matter of degrees. Six of one, half a dozen of another, there are still issues in the Angels bullpen. Right?
Jered Weaver had already left the ballpark as the Angels’ bullpen was busy ruining his handiwork. He won’t have that luxury of leaving early next week.
In most other ways Tuesday’s game against the Arizona Diamondbacks, a 7-1 Angels loss at Salt River Fields, had to feel like a regular-season game for Weaver. The Angels’ Opening Day starter allowed two hits, no runs, walked one and struck out three in his final start of spring training. Weaver needed only 87 pitches to get through seven innings.
“It was nice to get under the lights and go out the way you would in the regular season,” Weaver said. “I always try to treat the last game of spring training like a regular season game.”
That he did, against a Diamondbacks lineup that featured at least seven of eight Opening Day position players. (Though it should be noted that three — Jason Kubel, Willie Bloomquist and Aaron Hill, who was hit in the pinkie finger by a Weaver pitch — left with injuries).
If it were a regular-season game, you’d be talking about it tomorrow. Josh Hamilton’s first game against the Rangers was overshadowed by a lot of things: a walkoff hit, a four-homer inning, a complete implosion by Jerome Williams and — stop the presses — three damn fine throws from behind home plate by Hank Conger.
But since it’s only spring training (checking my watch, yup, one more week…) it’s getting the postgame bullet-point treatment for posterity.
It took three and a half hours, but it happened: The Angels won a game.
They scored in mind-numbing fashion, piling on former Angel Matt Palmer (two-thirds of an inning, seven runs) and former Mariner Sean White (two-thirds of an inning, five runs) for 11 unearned runs on four Dodger errors.
The quality of play didn’t make the game come alive, but a standing-room only crowd of 6,744 did. They got their money’s worth. Jered Weaver made his long-awaited debut and a patient Josh Hamilton belted his first home run. And the Angels won.
The bullet points:
TEMPE, Ariz. — Jerome Williams knows his place on the Los Angeles Angels’ pitching staff. His job is to be ready for any role necessary.
Making his first spring training start since 2007, Williams allowed a home run to Luis Valbuena but little else Saturday as an Angels split squad was beaten 11-2 by the Chicago Cubs.
“I got the first homer out of the way,” Williams said. “It was a curve. (Valbuena) had to go down to get it and he did.”