Split Decision Feels So Hollow
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It started magically for the Angels. They opened in the heart and sweltering heat of Texas by hammering the Rangers in the 1st 2 games of the 4-game series Monday and Tuesday. They continued their assault Wednesday, jumping to a 6-0 lead before the Rangers knew what hit them.
But Texas began chipping away. Still, it trailed 7-6 heading into the 9th. They rallied to tie it, though, as Ian Kinsler drilled a lead-off homer to open the inning off closer Ernesto Frieri. But in the 10th, the Angels again seemed headed for victory after catcher Chris Iannetta smacked a bomb to open the inning, then Albert Pujols, who eats Ranger pitching like Mike Tyson would your children, unloaded with a 2-run shot, giving the Angels a 10-7 advantage. They couldn’t blow this, right?
Of course they would. Four runs later, after Elvis Andrus capped the comeback with a 2-run game-winning single, the Rangers celebrated a 11-10 decision as if they had won the AL West. The Angels were crushed.
They didn’t recover on Thursday. The Rangers spotted them 2 runs before blowing them out late in a 15-9 win, gaining a split of the series. Instead of being a game back in a best-case scenario or 3 games at worst, the Angels left the Lone Star state 5 games back, just like when the series started. All work and no pay.
There is plenty of blame to go around. The bullpen cost the Angels dearly, but so did Manager Mike Scioscia, whose ego seems to get the best of him.
Leading by a run in the 9th Wednesday and with the slow-footed Kendrys Morales on 2nd, Scioscia could have pinch-run for him with the fleet-footed Peter Bourjos or Howie Kendrick. Instead, he left Morales in the game. He was thrown out at the plate trying to score from 2nd on a single to right by Maicer Izturis.
“Sure, we’re looking for the extra run, but we’re taking (Mark) Trumbo out and putting Bourjos in for defense,” Iron Mike tried to defend himself with reporters afterwards. “It’s tough to gut the middle of the lineup when you’re already taking 1 guy out.”
And the excuse for not putting in Kendricks?
“We wanted to to keep Kendrys’ presence in there,” Scioscia said.
Morales’ presence was again felt on Thursday, when he hit his 12th homer and drove in a pair of runs, but that was a drop in the bucket compared to the Rangers’ high-octane offense, which torched Angels’ pitching in the final 2 games. Even Rangers Manger Ron Washington knew the Angels and Scioscia, whose decisions (his failure to move Trumbo to the cleanup spot early on being his biggest) have often hurt this year, had let them off the hook.
“Our back was up against the wall,” Washington said. “We lost the first 2 ballgames. We had to fight back and win that 1 last night. Tonight, we showed more resiliency.”
It will be interesting to see if the Angels have some.