No Angels, you’re not that good. Not yet. Never will be.
On this Wednesday afternoon, playing ball in Minute Maid Park, Houston Texas, the Angels of Anaheim, (or is it Los Angeles, or La La or?...wherever dude), were California daydreaming of sweeping the Astros and making a rude statement right in the face of the reigning World Champions.
Not on this day. Not on this turf.
Before getting a sweep, Mike Trout, Albert Pujols, et al had to surmount one Justin Verlander. And Verlander proclaimed: “Not on this day. Not on this turf. Not against MY stuff. It stops HERE.”
For four and 2/3 innings the Angels box score read, “no hits, no runs, no walks.” Perfect. Although the Angels would eventually struggle for a couple of meaningless runs while striking out 9 times in seven innings against the Verlander machine, unfortunately for the Astros, Verlander’s mound opponent, Nick Tropeano, was also perfect for three and 2⁄3 innings.
And then Alex Bregman.
In the fourth inning, with 2 outs, suddenly Tropeano lost the strike zone, loading the bases by walking two Astros and hitting Yuli Gurriel.
Then Alex Bregman. On a 2-0 count Bregs broke the hitting drought, and broke all dreams of an Angels sweep, smashing a three run double down into the left field corner.
It was all the scoring that Verlander and the Astros would need.
But the Stros were not done. In the sixth inning Jose Altuve, who seemingly has reverted to the singles hitter he was in his early career, ended a 2018 streak of 101 ABs without a home run, smashing a 4 bagger 441 feet past the Crawford boxes.
In the seventh inning, from one of the dark corners of the Astros 2018 season, shone a new light. Jake Marisnick, coming in batting .125, on a typical 0-2 count, reminded us of the power he displayed last season, lofting an Eduardo Paredes fastball over the left center fence, just into the deepest part of the Crawford Boxes. Yea Jake.
And great running catch in the 8th in right center on that Ian Kinsler deep line drive!
The Angels did manage two runs against the Verlander machine. The ancient Astros nemesis of course, who never seems to visit minute Maid park without at least one, smacked a seventh inning line drive home run just into the Crawford Boxes. Well at least he didn’t hit it into Crawford STREET. Oh yea, his name is Albert Pujols.
His next two teammates in the batting order managed to string together a couple of hits, accounting for another run and all the Angels scoring on this beautiful spring day, again dominated by Astros pitching.
In what is becoming a welcome cliche from this pen, the Astros bullpen finished the game with two perfect innings, one from Chris Devenski, and the other from a rejuvenated Ken Giles, respectively.
See ya later Angels. You’ll be safe and warm, when you’re back in LA. (or is it Anaheim, or La La or?...wherever dude).
Box Score here
Question: With Derek Fisher’s home run last night, Marisnick and Altuve’s today, with production by George Springer and Alex Bregman slowly increasing, will the Astros again become MLB’s leading hitting team? Last year in April they slugged .765 in April. In May they hit .850. This year in April they are not far behind last year’s pace, at .744. Will the pattern hold. Are they just a group of slow starters?