I was sitting in the second row behind the Rangers dugout on Saturday night, a 4-1 loss to the Angels that marks Anaheim's 17th win in their last 21 meetings with Texas.
The game only featured five runs, total, on 16 hits, but it was a grinder throughout. I was there with my best friend and his fiancee, so it was a fun night out, but as far as the action on the field was concerned it was a big old snooze fest. Heading into the bottom of the 6th, the only run that crossed home plate was Adrian Beltre scoring on a wild pitch uncorked by C.J. Wilson. That was the extent of the Texas offense on Saturday night.
Finally, the Angels generated some action in the 6th. After a leadoff Drew Butera single, Kole Calhoon found a hole on the right side to put runners at the corners with nobody out. Following a Mike Trout walk to load the bases, Rangers manager Brian Bannister lifted Colby Lewis after 94 pitches.
During what was the commercial break, while Roman Mendez warmed up, I turned to my best friend and gave the briefest of scouting reports on Roman, saying he throws pretty hard but it's mostly flat, as he allows a good amount of contact. In other words, the odds of him extinguishing a bases loaded, nobody out pickle weren't incredibly high.
Sure enough, Albert Pujols flicked an 0-2 single to center to tie the score at one apiece, a score that would have tilted in LAA's favor had Leonys Martin not cannoned Calhoon at the plate. Damn, he has an arm. After inducing an innocuous David Freese pop out to the catcher, Mendez walked Erick Aybar before C.J. Cron delivered what turned out to be the game's knockout blow, a two-out RBI single to make it 3-1.
In the 7th, trailing by two, Bannister called on Tanner Scheppers get in some work.
There's no real way I can throw makeup on Tanner's season to make it look right; in 4 innings he's allowed 6 hits, 5 runs and 4 walks. He has been consistently wild and Brian Bannister has consistently thrown him into higher-leverage situations, where Scheppers has proven himself to be an asset in the past.
Surrounded by Angels fans, it was frustrating hearing all the boos when he twice went up and in on Mike Trout -- as if Tanner was intentionally trying to buzz his tower -- before finally hitting him on the 3-2 pitch. The next at bat, he brushed back Albert Pujols, and, again, boos. Laboring, Robinson Chirinos visited him on the mound at least twice, and there was just no pace or rhythm to anything Tanner Scheppers was doing last night.
When Bannister took him out, Scheppers basically met him on the lip of the pitcher's mound to give him the ball as he walked back to the dugout. There was no communication, no feeling. The nonverbal communication struck me, because I've really never seen Scheppers appear so resigned to a situation before.