Angels Survive Bullpen Collapse, Take Series in Toronto

Scott FowlerCorrespondent IJune 4, 2009

ANAHEIM, CA - APRIL 10:  Pitcher Jered Weaver #36 of the Los Angeles Angels throws a pitch against the Boston Red Sox at Angel Stadium April 10, 2009 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

Okay, here's a little insight about me.

I grew up in rural northern Ontario, Canada, near towns called Cochrane and Hornepayne, literally in the middle of nowhere.

From a sports perspective, I only had the Toronto Blue Jays and Montreal Canadiens to root for.

I moved to California in the fall of 1987 and went to my first Halos game in '88. I met Kirk McKasckill, fellow middle-of-nowhere Ontarian and an Angels pitcher, and became an instant preteen Angels fan. That has progressed to the fan I am today.

I still have vivid, happy memories of the Blue Jays' World Series victories in '92 and '93, and Joe Carter is among my all-time favorite players.

That said, I still want the Angels to hammer the heck out of the Jays whenever they play each other, but they have struggled north of the border. The Angels are 36-64 at Rogers Centre (formerly the Sky Dome).

The Blue Jays are among the better teams in the AL East this year, and are exceeding all expectations, buoyed by a power-offensive group and lead by one of the best pitchers in baseball, Roy "Doc" Halladay.

Doc was called up and pitched two games in '98, but since then, he's consistently been one of the strongest pitchers in all of baseball, with a career record of 140-67, a 3.48 ERA, and 1369 strikeouts.

Needless to say, he's owned the Angels so far this season. Halladay struck out a career-high 14 batters in a 6-4  victory in the first game of this series on Tuesday.

In Game 2, the Angels' bats showed up to support righty Jered Weaver, who pitched yet another gem, striking out 10 through 7.0 innings on the way to an easy 8-1 Angels win.

Which brings us to today.

Maybe it was the time change, the exchange rate, or any combination of Canadian Beer (that stuffs like moonshine!) and poutine, but once again, the Angels bullpen imploded.

John Lackey got the start and pitched a solid game, boosted by a productive offense—minus Erick @!#$@#ing Aybar and his 0-for-5 day (I'm not letting my desire for him to be sent packing go. Ever. Period.). Lackey left the game with a 5-2 lead going into the eighth inning.

Then the bullpen came in.

As is normal so far in this horrific nightmare of a season, the 'pen ruined Lackey's chance for his much-deserved second victory of the season.

Darren Oliver could only throw the ball down the middle and gave up three earned runs on three hits while getting no outs. Justin Speier stymied the Jays a bit, but gave up a sac fly, which allowed the Jays to tie the game at 5-5 going into the ninth.

Luckily, the Angels strung together a few hits in the top of the ninth, and with runners on the corners, Aybar to round into a double-play. But at least the runner scored.

Brian Fuentes came in and pitched a strong-ish bottom of the ninth, putting two men on but getting the save despite a ridiculously squeezed strike zone provided by the homeplate umpire.

The Angels dodged another collapse, but I think this should act as further proof that we need bullpen help.

I personally think we should platoon Fuentes and Kelvim Escobar at the closer role, and leave the middle stuff to Oliver (for lefties) and Jason Bulger. Everyone else has been a liability this season.

Let Matt Palmer keep going as a starter 'til he blows up, and let Escobar get three- and even six-out saves. Whatever it takes to keep the bullpen from blowing any more leads.

Up next, the Halos hop to Detroit for a three-game set with the Tigers.


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