I love going into what turn out to be good games with low expectations. I also like surprises. So today just turned out to be nothing but awesome for me.
Jessica came and picked Conor and me up at around 11am, and we drove down to get our free street parking. With attendance lately, I’ve been wondering if my habit of being down in the area two hours prior to game time is really necessary – but the weather was gorgeous today, it was Mother’s Day, and the Safe was eventually packed full of baseball fans hungry for a win. So even though I am rocking a pretty mean sunburn on my cheeks and nose (and likely the top of my head now matches my hair) from sitting out in the sun hours prior to the game, I don’t mind the early arrival.
While we were eating our lunches and taking in the atmosphere, we noticed an Angels player was not warming up with his cohorts, but with a young fan in the stands. This went on for several minutes longer than I might have thought it would, and he probably made the little guy’s year. Conor ID’d the player as alternate catcher Ryan Budde, but I’m still not sure:
Felix Hernandez was also taking a few warmup tosses with one of our catchers out in left center:
We were going to try and tough out the game in our actual seats, but the sun had other ideas. None of us took the Seattle weather seriously, so none of us had bothered with sunscreen: and all three of us are rather pale. Via Twitter messages, I found out that Pat Dillon was at the game, having gotten a ticket for the CF bleachers. He found us and sat down to chat, but before the game even really started, Jessica had had enough of the sun, and the four of us decided that Pat’s seats might not be such a bad idea, given that they were in the shade provided by SafeCo’s rolling roof. So we hurried over to an obvious gap in the seating and settled in for the game.
The game was just wonderful. A two-on left field home run came out of Josh Wilson in the bottom of the 4th inning, and Michael Saunders hit his first MLB homer right after that. Saunders ball landed in the pocket between the center field wall and the stands, and I believe they did manage to get it back for him. Jen Howson, the gal whose tickets Conor and I received for an Ian Snell start a few weeks ago said that Saunders mother was sitting in the area, and was absolutely delighted, jumping up and down and hugging everyone. Saunders mum is also a breast cancer survivor, so I’m guessing that this made the hit even more special. In a strange twist of events, Josh Wilson also wound up being a double away from hitting for the cycle (he was walked for his last at-bat). What weird game this is sometimes.
Here’s Reggie Willits, walking away empty-handed after the Saunders hit:
Franklin Gutierrez in action:
Jason Vargas was stellar through 7 & 2/3 innings, pitching shutout ball. The only run that the Angels would accomplish would come in the 8th inning against Vargas’ relief Brandon League, who allowed Vargas’ runner, Reggie Willits, home on a wild pitch. Everyone gave Vargas a standing ovation, well-deserved. I may complain about having to go to Vargas starts a lot, but it’s not because I haven’t been enjoying his starts, only that I’d like to see Cliff Lee or Felix Hernandez in person once or twice this year. Vargas and Doug Fister have been a bit of a marvelous shock this year, and I no longer harbor any apprehension over our starting pitching. If only our offense would wake up…
Brandon League, coming into the game:
In the bottom of the 8th, Brian Stokes was on the hill for the Angels, and was so concerned about allowing Josh Wilson to hit the double that would have given him the cycle, that he wound up walking Wilson as mentioned above, and allowed Ryan Langerhans to steal both second and third. With the bases loaded and Franklin Gutierrez at the plate, Stokes walked in a run thusly:
The laughing and screaming towards the end of the clip is Jessica. If I laugh, the screen gets all jiggly, and I’ve been trying to work on my video stability. Michael Saunders and Adam Moore also both singled in this inning to give us three runs total under Mr Stokes watch. They were our last runs of the game, but it was more than enough.
Brandon League was replaced by Shawn Kelley, whose last out was a Michael Ryan (who?!) flyout to left field. And of course, my favorite photo to take at any game, because it means that the game has been won by the Good Guys(tm):
There is no game tomorrow because of the travel day to begin a series at Camden Yards against the Baltimore Orioles. I’m actually a wee bit happy about the break, and I hope that this win today gives a little bit of bolstered confidence to a group of guys badly in need of it. Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there, and enjoy the rest of your Sunday!