What?!?! The Angels are allowed to win! I had almost forgotten that was even possible. I have to say, it feels kind of nice, even if the win was completely meaningless unless you really think there is anything on the line in this epic battle between two of the most disappointing teams in baseball.
I think what really feels the best about it is that it featured another strong outing from Garrett Richards who was not only effective, but did so efficiently, needing just 90 pitches to get through seven innings. That's an especially impressive accomplishment considering that he is getting stretched out on the fly here and facing an above average offensive team.
Of course with this Angels team there is no moral victory that comes without some dark cloud over it. Though there has been a long gap in between, Richards now has six starts under his belt this season and only one of them was what you would consider to be a below average start. Seeing that, one can't help but wonder what would've happened with the Angels this year had they let Richards stay in the rotation instead of Jerome Williams and Joe Blanton. It might not have made enough of a difference, but at this point, it doesn't look like it would've hurt.
Angels 8, Blue Jays 2
-- Scioscia may not have realized it, but he inadvertently used a rather sabermetric friendly lineup tonight. First and foremost, he returned Mike Trout to the two-hole where he should remain for eternity and I really don't want to argue about it anymore because anyone who thinks otherwise is trapped in a way of thinking of a bygone era where sacrifice bunting like crazy is still considered to be a good idea. Sorry, got a little derailed there. Anyway, having Calhoun bat leadoff instead of Shuck was smart choice and, yes, having Hamilton bat third where his feast or famine production works best was a good idea too. I hope nobody tells him how progressive this batting order was otherwise he might change it again out of fear of living in the 21st century.
-- One interesting development with Richards is how he has changed as a pitcher. He is stil mostly a fastball-slider guy, but he has introduced some new wrinkles as a starter this year. In this game, he relied a lot more on his curveball as a change of pace pitch whereas in his previous starts this year and last he'd gone with the changeup more. That's a big step forward for him as his change has never been very effective but his curve is a good one, though he still struggles to command it. If he can finally settle on a half-decent third pitch, this starting thing might finally work out for him.
-- Keep a close eye on Chris Nelson because he is a candidate to have a good-sized role on the team next year. He's such a hard guy to figure out. He had one terrible half season for the Rockies in 2011, then was great in 2012 and then fell off a cliff so fast in 2013 that the Rockies and Yankees both released him. Heck, even the Angels DFA'd him earlier in the year and he was still able to clear waivers. He caught fire in Salt Lake, which isn't had, but it could be that he figured out how to recapture what he did for the Rockies in 2012. He is no long-term solution, but if he can prove productive these next two months, it gives the Angels even more options as they plan to reload for a 2014 World Series run.
-- J.C. Gutierrez was solid once again and looks like he at least deserves a longer look, or at least he would if he wasn't a Fraudney wannabe with the crooked hat. As for the Stange guy, he didn't create a mess or anything, but he hardly flashed anything impressive. The search continues.
Halo Hero of the Game
Never doubt anyone named Garrett.