I’m just gonna come out and say it. Mike Scioscia, the skipper for the Angels, cost the team Tuesday’s game. No pussy footing around it, he goofed, and anyone who has watched this ballclub the past two seasons knows that this isn’t the first time Sosh has goofed in these type of situations. Hindsight is 20-20, I get that folks. But this isn’t about hindsight. You saw this coming from miles away. As soon as I saw Scott Downs warming up in the bullpen, I correctly guessed the following sequence:
A. Dan Haren would be pulled before finishing the inning. Dirty Dan’s control wasn’t the best, but it was miles better than what he had shown in his first two starts. In the 7th inning, he allowed a one out single to Yoenis Cespedes, then had Kurt Suzuki drop a bunt on him for a base hit with two outs and two on. Sosh decided to remove Dan Haren from the game, after only 85 pitches. The thought being that Daric Barton, the man coming to the plate, had hit a home run off Haren earlier in the game. I can see this logic, though I don’t particularly agree with the move (we know Danny is that good, let him pitch out of it). In comes Scott Downs, the Angels’ best reliever, by far.
B. Scott Downs would pitch a maximum of 5 pitches to retire his only batter of the night. This is our best reliever mind you. If you don’t believe me, his numbers help paint a nice picture. In 53 2/3 innings last season, he posted a 1.34 ERA and 1.006 WHIP while only allowing 8 earned runs all season. He got it done as a regular full inning reliever and lefty specialist, the latter too much for the fans’ taste since he has shown the ability to handle a full line-up time and time again. Know how many pitches Scott threw? Four.
C. Kevin Jepsen would come in during the 8th inning in a close game. Kevin Jepsen has a great fastball. Great. It can get to the 97-98 range easily. The problem with Kevin Jepsen is typical of many flame-throwing relievers: he has a really hard time controlling his pitches. Jepsen has earned a place in the bullpen on the back of an impressive second half showing in 2009, the last year the Angels made it to the playoffs, and a decent 2010 campaign. Ever since, Kevin has endured injuries, and worked through many inconsistencies. Jeppers has been less than stellar so far this year, and his outing today continued that trend. After retiring the first batter, Jepsen walked Cliff Pennington and Jemile Weeks, and gave up a single to Coco Crisp which brought in a run. Then, Josh Reddick drives in another to chase Jepsen. The next reliever, David Carpenter, gave up a double to Cespedes that scored two more, but the damage had already been done.
By removing the team’s best reliever in favor of a struggling flamethrower, Scioscia cost the team a division game that could play an important part in this year’s playoff race. It’s not too early to think about this friends, the Rangers just pounded one of the top teams in the American League, the Boston Red Sox, 18-3 IN FENWAY PARK. This is a powerful team we’re talking about here, so every mistake counts. With the offense and starting pitching sluggish out of the blocks, the managing has to be on point in order to keep the team on course. Nights like Tuesday showed many of this team’s flaws in spectacular fashion, no offense to the A’s, but they’re not big contenders and everyone knows it. They are building to get there, and a game like this can help toward making that happen for them. But what about us? Watching this team is like watching a car stuck in the mud. It needs a good push, and right now, Mike isn’t giving that good push.