Friday night was an odd game. We faced the slop throwing righty or “crafty righty” Jeff Weaver. Drew and Tex were able to sneak a few homers over the short porch to give us a 4 run lead and we tacked on a few runs to get us to an 8-1 lead entering the 9th. The one run Anaheim scored was when Eovaldi, who was pitching very well, ran out of gas in the 6th inning, uncharacteristically walking the bases loaded. Girardi correctly pulled him and Shreve did another nice job allowing one run on a weak grounder and then after a 3-2 walk, he struck out Aybar to end the threat. After Shreve got through the 7th and Lindgren got through the 8th, Girardi correctly went to Rogers IMO, but incorrectly moved Pirela to 2nd while giving Tex rest for the final inning…moving Drew to 3rd and Headley to 1B. Now in an 8-1 game it probably doesn’t matter, but one inning to get Pirela lose and moving Headley to 1B seemed like a waste to me…and truth be told, it made no difference defensively as Pirela had one play and he made it, but the inning unraveled and it could have mattered. Rogers was horrific. He allowed a single, double, infield single, wild pitch, walk and a single before Girardi went to Betances. I can’t blame Joe for leaving in Rogers that long with such a lead. Now the score was still only 8-3, but the tying run is on deck (making this a save situation and a very easy one at that). Betances could not find the strike zone, allowing a single, and 2 walks which made our lead 8-6 with bases loaded and nobody out!
I did not track all the pitches, but I did not like the pitch selection as I thought we threw far too many breaking balls. My take was he controlled the fastball better (not well, but better) and the batters seeing him have less control would lay off any breaking ball and only swing at the fastball. This appeared to be the Angels strategy as well. However, what makes pitch selection so interesting; is that the other side of the coin is that if Betances could throw a breaking ball for a strike he would get an easy “taken” strike. While the McCann Betances strategy hurt us to get us to 8-6, it started to pay off as we struck out Niewenhuis on a 2-2 pitch. Then Betances fell behind 3-1 before getting a grounder to SS that Didi made a diving stop and got the force out at 2nd (huge play/pitch on a 3-1 count in that spot considering Betances had thrown a lot of pitches and control was shabby). Carlos Perez was sent up to pinch hit with the score 8-7 (1st and 3rd). Betances threw a breaking ball for a strike, then two breaking balls for balls, then another breaking ball for a swinging strike before throwing his 5th breaking ball in a row to strike out Perez swinging on Dellins' 33rd pitch…Whew!!!
1st inning, Didi made an outstanding dive going up the middle showing range that way we have not seen in a decade to get an out. While Didi did boot his 8th error later, it was not horrible as the runner went right in front of him and his footwork was off as he might have been thinking of getting the runner at 3rd. It was not a good play, but I think Didi is starting to play the game like most thought he would.
Drew hit 2 homers in the game and as awful as he has been at the plate, had been very solid in the field. Maybe this is his turning point? Doubtful, but he did raise his OPS 46 points to a still anemic .583. With Ellsbury out and Flores really giving us another out at the plate (so far) we need someone to step up.
Gardner was on 1st against Weaver who throws slow and allows a lot of SB’s and it took Gardner 4 or 5 pitches to go and easily get the SB. He is blazing fast, but he clearly does not have base stealing skill. The AB could have been over waiting so many pitches.