THE GAME: Angels vs Rays
Both teams are 23-23. It's not exactly an ALCS preview. But it's a Monday late-afternoon game and it beats working.
NOTES ON THE FOOD:
- I love caramelized chicken when it's not syrupy-sweet. (As the dish is full of sugar, this is pretty rare.) Restaurants tend to serve the chicken sitting in a puddle of the sauce, so I rarely order it when out. At home, however, I can make it to my specifications.
- I marinated diced chicken breast overnight in fish sauce, garlic, pepper, and a bit of brown sugar.
- Then I threw a bunch of ingredients into the mini-prep: more brown sugar, a shallot, garlic, ginger, and couple of tablespoons of vinegar.
- I placed the chicken in a single layer in a nonstick pan and let it cook for about five minutes, then flipped it and cooked it the same amount on the other side.
- I scooped the chicken out with a slotted spoon and plated it, leaving a fair amount of the sauce in the pan. (If the chicken isn't sweet enough, you can always add more sauce, but this was fine as is.)
- I topped the chicken with beni shoga and diced scallions.
- It's great like this, and it's almost as good eaten cold as leftovers.
NOTES ON THE GAME:
- Tropicana Field is the only MLB stadium that I have no desire to visit. Partly because it's in St. Petersburg, but mostly because it looks like an absolute dump. It's the smallest ballpark in baseball, it's the only non-retractable dome, and it often looks about 10% full.
- Also, there are different sets of ground rules for batted balls that strike the catwalks. Seriously. It's 2017 and players have to worry about balls bouncing off of catwalks suspended from the ceiling of a dome.
- The Angels are starting a guy at second whom I'd never heard of before today. Do you think that's a good sign?
- Mike Trout walks in his first plate appearance, pushing his OBP to .470, easily the best in baseball. That's good.
- Next batter, Pujols pops up to third. His OBP is .291 - the fifth-best on the team. That's not so good.
- The Rays lead off the inning with a homer. As I mentioned the other day, the Angels pitchers give up a ton of home runs. I remind myself that their four top starters are all on the DL and I shouldn't expect much out of these replacements... but it's still not fun.
- Three batters later, the Rays hit another homer.
- Interesting stat: the Angels starter, JC Ramirez, has an ERA of 10.3 in the first inning. From the second inning on, his ERA is 2.5.
- Nolan Fontana, the second baseman of whom I'd never heard, is making his major league debut today. He's two months older than Trout.
- He hit into a fielder's choice, attempted to steal second, and was ruled safe. Then the Rays challenged the call and the umpires got together and overturned the call without bothering to look at the replay. I've never seen that before. (However, the television replay showed that he probably was indeed out, so I'm not upset about it.)
- Marte just struck out looking - at a strike right down the middle - when all he had to do was put the ball in play to get a run across for the Angels. I sometimes wonder if players get any coaching at all. So many of them just seem to have no clue about the fundamentals of the game.
- Cameron Maybin hit one off the catwalk rings... and no one was sure what the call was. Turns out it was a home run.
- They showed the rules so I took a photo of the TV. See for yourself:
- Jumbo Diaz is pitching in relief for Tampa Bay! I saw him pitch for the Great Falls Dodgers in Montana in 2002! He was like 300+ pounds then. These days he's listed at a svelte 278.
- Hey, check this out:
- Two balls, two strikes, two outs, in a 2-2 game. Maybin at the plate is 2 for 2. Can't you just hear Vin Scully? "So now the deuces are really wild." Damn, I miss him.
- Jumbo got yanked (although I'm hesitant to phrase it like that - I read a biography of Lyndon Johnson the other day; apparently he was obsessed with showing off his penis, which he called Jumbo) for a new pitcher. The new guy threw a wild pitch and now the Angels have a 3-2 lead. They definitely pulled Jumbo out too soon. You know what, let's just move on.
- Ramirez is done for the evening. In typical fashion, he gave up 2 ER in the first inning and 0 in the next six. Maybe the Angels should use their closer in the first inning when Ramirez pitches. (Although, not surprisingly, their closer and his two backups are all on the DL at the moment.)
- 4th-string closer Bud Norris gets the 4-out save and the Angels win 3-2.
- Still, this was not an enjoyable game to watch. The Angels were 0-9 with men in scoring position, the winning run came on a wild pitch, Trout didn't do anything special and, despite the low score and regular length, it took more than three-and-a-half hours to play.