THE GAME: Dodgers vs Braves
To recap what has happened to my local teams while GameDay Eating was on vacation in the month of July:
The Angels went 9-13, their worst month of the season. Not surprising - Mike Trout didn't return until the 14th and, being the Angels, they lost yet another starting pitcher. Alex Meyer, who in his previous start pitched a one-hitter against the Nationals, went on the DL with shoulder inflammation and has yet to return. So the Angels are currently without their top SIX starting pitchers.
The Lakers Summer League team won the whole tournament and Lonzo Ball was named MVP. Cool to see? Hell yes. Does it mean anything? Not really.
The Dodgers went 20-3, the best winning percentage any team has posted in a month in 81 years.
They lost to Atlanta on Wednesday night after having a lead... the first time they have lost a game they led in 53 games. I have been watching baseball with a near-fanatical devotion since I was seven years old, and I still can't wrap my head around that stat. It is, not surprisingly, an MLB record. (The second-longest such streak was the 1906 Cubs, at 44 games.)
They also added Yu Darvish, one of the best strikeout pitchers in baseball, who makes his Dodgers debut tomorrow.
And, for the first time since 2013, I can watch Dodgers games on my TV. So with them playing in Atlanta, followed by the Angels playing at home, I sat down to watch roughly six straight hours of baseball.
(Another fun fact: since the 4th of July, the Dodgers are 3-3 against Atlanta and 17-0 against everyone else.)
NOTES ON THE FOOD:
- I had some leftover chicken breast from a salad or something else healthy (and probably boring).
- I tossed the chicken with this store-brand "Mexican-inspired" sauce, the dominant flavors being chipotle and garlic. It's surprisingly spicy.
- It then went on top of tortilla chips with Tillamook extra sharp cheddar and baked in the oven for just over five minutes.
- Topped with diced green onion and Blue Top Brand's "Creamy Street Sauce."
- They were fantastic, but next time I make them I'm going to add some grilled corn and perhaps pickled jalapeños.
NOTES ON THE GAME:
- There were several years in the 90s when I loved the Dodgers almost as much as I loved the Angels. There are lots of reasons why - mostly because I was a kid, and then a teenager, and I didn't have the time nor the money to make it down to Anaheim with any regularity, while I could often get free tickets to Dodgers games, which was only a twenty-minute drive. I miss those Dodgers-Braves matchups - especially before realignment in 1994 when both teams were in the NL West.
- My brother and I ditched high school in 1996 to attend the Dodgers home opener, where Hideo Nomo pitched a complete game to beat Hall-of-Famer Tom Glavine 1-0. It was, of course, one of the best days I ever spent in Chavez Ravine.
- (Just in case you're wondering, that Dodgers love started dissipating the day Mike Piazza was traded - May 15, 1998 - and within a couple of years it was gone.)
- At the start of the season, I took an online visual tour of SunTrust Park. I thought it looked terrible and, worse, boring. Maybe it's one of those ballparks I have to see in person.
- Sean Newcomb was the highest-ranked pitching prospect the Angels had since Jered Weaver. I was confused and not entirely thrilled when the Angels traded him to the Braves for Andrelton Simmons two years ago. I was spectacularly wrong. Newcomb looks like he will be a good #3 (or maybe #2) pitcher if (big if) he cuts down on the walks, but Simmons is the best defensive shortstop I have seen since Ozzie Smith was in his prime. (A lot of people don't realize this, since ESPN and MLB Network have made Aaron Judge the biggest story in baseball this season, but Simmons is #2 in the AL in WAR this year, behind Jose Altuve. Judge is 3rd.)
- Puig gets walked intentionally with two outs so Atlanta can face the Dodgers pitcher, Alex Wood, who then strikes out. I respect people who hate the DH because they think every player should both bat and play the field. That's a valid opinion. But I laugh when people talk about liking the "strategy" of the pitcher batting. What was likable about that sequence? It's just bad baseball. Which is why everyone has adopted the DH except the National League and one Japanese league.
- Newcomb walks in a run to tie the game at 1. Like I was saying, he's gotta cut down on the walks.
- 30 minutes ago, the announcers were saying there wasn't going to be any rain. Now it's pouring. God, I miss the South.
- Commercial Note: The Hyundai commercial with "Sweet Caroline" is my least favorite commercial in months. Would I hate it so much if it didn't remind me of drunken Red Sox fans singing along at Fenway? I seriously doubt it.
- Nick Markakis just picked up his 2000th hit. I never would have guessed he had that many. I was at a game at Jack Murphy Stadium a long time ago when Tony Gwynn got his 2000th hit. (Tony ended his career with 3141 - I'm guessing Nick doesn't hit that many.)
- Newcomb exits after 4 and 2/3 innings. Only four hits allowed, but seven walks. That's not going to cut it against anyone, let alone the best team in baseball.
- The Braves had the bases loaded with no outs and Wood picked off the runner at second. What a boneheaded play for Atlanta.
- Braves then hit into a double play to end the inning. They will not get a better chance than that.
- Sure enough, the Dodgers add on more runs and are now up 6-1. They won't blow a lead for the second night in a row - and certainly not a 5-run lead. I'm switching to the Angels game now.