Game 2: Angels
Kitty's cousin, David, drove us the ten or so miles form Norco to the Angel Stadium of Anaheim in Orange County on a beautiful Sunday afternoon. John Caprino who is the President of the club had personally replied to my letter and had provided us with two fantastic seats in the club section. Here we had great views over the first base line and waiters to bring us drinks. In the warm weather we had to make sure to maintain our hydration.
The Angels had played their first four seasons at Dodger Stadium under the banner of the Los Angeles Angels. Mickey Mouse, Pluto and Goofy were among a number of celebrities who opened the stadium at Anaheim in 1964. Unsurprisingly the stadium is about three miles away from Disneyland and covers 140 acres where farms and orchards once stood. When the ballpark was first opened one of its most distinctive features was a huge, 230 foot tall A frame, with a halo around its top, which housed the scoreboard. With the renovation of the ballpark in 1979 (in order to house both football and baseball) the A frame was moved out to the parking lot as an earthquake safety consideration. The towering scoreboard inspired the nickname of the “Big A”.
In the late 1990’s the park was again renovated, this time to turn it into a baseball only facility. It has a capacity of about 45,000 and on this day there was a crowd of 32,227. This was even though all tickets were sold out, as this was the Angels first home series of the season. The sell-out is caused by season ticket holders who buy their tickets but do not actually turn up to all the games. Thus while it is technically a sell-out, in practice not all seats are full. The park is in a beautiful setting and the main feature is a waterfall display in a rocky setting beyond the outfield fence. Angel Stadium of Anaheim is generally known as a hitter’s park but that is negated a little by the low fences near the foul poles which allows fielders to rob hitters of home runs by catching the ball. The fans in these sections have been known to help the Angels out fielders in catching long drives, while making it more difficult for the visiting fielders to steal hometown homers.
We found the staff at the stadium to be really helpful and efficient and all and all things seemed geared to giving the fan a good experience. We also got free tee shirts again and Angel’s caps priced at only seven dollars. We were ready for a good game. The Angels had purchased arguably the best batter in baseball in the off season, Albert Pujols, plus ace pitcher CL Wilson. They were generally considered to be favourites to win the division – the AL West, but were going into the game having won one and lost one of this three game series with the Kansas City Royals. The Angels had won Game one 4-0 while the Riyals won Game two 6-3.
Kansas City Royals………..300 021 100 – 7
Los Angeles Angels…………101 000 010 – 3
So the Angels had made it clear in the off season that their preferred route to winning was by the purchase of big name players. The Royals on the other hand had remained stable and had an experienced line up. After Alex Gordon was caught off the first pitch of the game Kansas City scored three runs at the top of the first innings. My old mate Billy Butler proved that he is worth everything that he is paid by hitting a home run over the centre field wall to bring in three runs still in the first. The ball actually just cleared the outstretched glove of centre fielder Peter Bourjos, who had thought that he caught it. Bourjos earned the ire of the crowd later on when a beach ball drifted onto the field of play later in the game and rather than throwing back to the frolicking fans he burst it.
One thing that intrigued me, and reminded me of the rules came while Royals short stop Alcides Escobar was at bat. The ball came through and clipped his hand on the way through to Angels catcher Chris Iannetta, who caught it on the full. Because Escobar had been hit by a pitch he got to walk to first base. In cricket of course this would be out because the hand (or batting glove) is considered to be part of the bat. That is of course unless you are Ross McNally. I was playing a game in Christchurch many moons ago and I caught McNally exactly in that manner – but it was a very gentle flick of ball on glove. I of course appealed vehemently to the umpire for the dismissal, but the umpire, understandably could not distinguish the nick, nor hear a sound. I complained veraciously for the catch to McNally and accused loudly “you hit that.” He repeated numerous times that he did not hit it. When I inquired what then it had hit he replied “my glove” (knowing full well that it is considered to be part of his bat). I however got the last laugh when later in the innings I caught him off a ball which had bounced, but the umpire this time ruled in my favour. What comes around goes around.
While the Angels picked up runs in the first and third innings to stay in touch, they missed a golden opportunity in the third when they had bases loaded and none out. Torii Hunter grounded out to first with none out but scored Erick Aybar who was on third base. However Vernon Wells struck out and Kendrys Morales grounded out, allowing Royals starter Jonathan Sanchez to escape the jam. A home run by Eric Hosmer took the Royals out to a 5-2 lead in the top of the fourth innings. This was Hosmers second home run of this series. The Angels starting pitcher, Ervin Santana laboured through 96 pitches in five and a half innings. By the eighth innings the Royals were up by 7-2 and although the Angels pulled one back in the eighth the score line remained at 7-3. Throughout the game though the Angels had numerous attempts to drag the game out of the fire. They left 13 runners on base throughout the game (i.e. when the third out occurred there were runners left on the bases and therefore not able to score).
Billy Butler also hit a double later in the game to back up his first innings home run. He is value for money. $240 million slugger Albert Pujols begun to get some action out of his bat after only getting one hit in the previous two games. He knocked in the Angels first run and added a fifth inning single along with a seventh innings double and was walked once. He also made a fabulous play in the field with a diving stop and throw to be selected as the Angels player of the day. Of note to me was the effort of $4,775,000 leadoff batter for Kansas City Alex Gordon. He has batted 13 times for the season and has an average of 0.0. I appreciate that it is very early on in the season, but if I was the paymaster I would be getting a little bit concerned with Gordon’s production.
David came and picked us up after the game at the allocated place so all in all it was a really nice experience. Thank you Angels for the day, and more importantly, John Caprino for the tickets.