angels parade

If you missed the 14-inning affair between the Indians and Angels on Tuesday night, then congratulations, you are a human being. If you were one of the nine creatures with opposable thumbs who suffered through the game, then you were witness to something that no living organism should have had to endure. The two teams combined to go 20-104 at the plate, striking out 32 times and stranding 19 runners.

The Lost Angeles California Angels of Anaheim succeeded in out-sucking the Indians, when, having resorted to every other option imaginable, they placed Joe Blanton on the bump for what would, of course, be the final inning of the game.  Blanton’s performance was par for the course, as he surrendered three runs on three hits in the inning. In Blanton’s defense, only two of those runs were earned. Not in Blanton’s defense, the one unearned run was due to his own overthrow of first base, the Indians had  five hits in the previous thirteen innings. and Blanton is getting paid 6.5 million dollars this season to put up impressive stats like these: 2-14, 6.12 ERA, and 29 home runs in just 129.1 innings. Joe Blanton, ladies and gents. Joe Blanton.

Of course, this wasn’t the Joey Blanton Show until the 14th inning. It was truly a team effort that kept the Angels from scoring any runs during the 42 outs that followed J.B. Shuck’s leadoff homer, as they repeatedly found creative ways to shoot themselves in the foot.

Two such occasions stood out.

The first had to do with a Clown Show favorite, Joshua Holt Hamilton. Josh? Oh, Josh. What were you doing wandering off second base on the eighth inning, with only one out and your buddy Mark Trumbo on first? After you got shamelessly picked off, did Kole Calhoun’s single — which you totally would have scored on, if you hadn’t been, you know, picked off second base — make it hurt even more? I bet hitting home runs and crashing into walls is fun. I bet getting picked off second base totally sucks.

The second such instance was as Lost Angeles California Angels of Anaheim as it was embarrassing. To kick off the tenth inning, Hamilton singled off of Matt Albers. Trumbo walked. Hamilton managed to not get picked off, and Calhoun bunted  a ball up the third base line. After briefly rolling foul, the ball was back on the chalk when catcher Yan Gomes reached down to pick it up, which is a product of some Mike Scioscia groundskeeping if I’ve ever seen it. Fair ball. Bases loaded, nobody out. Albers was to stay in the game, despite his letting the first three batters reach. Chris Nelson came to the dish.

If the Angels were really bad, Nelson had an awful night. He finished the game 0-6, with four Ks and eight men left on base. This particular strikeout — consummated by a mighty hack toward an Albers’ sinker that never was above his shoes — accounted for three of those runners.

Next up was catcher Hank Conger, a switch-hitter who should consider giving up hitting right-handed (.105/.261/.105). Apparently Terry Francona had access to this same information, because he promptly brought a left-hander into the game in the person of Rich Hill.  Scioscia, who just loves to believe he manages a National League team, decided this was a good time to call for a suicide squeeze. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a suicide squeeze nearly turn literal. Then again, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a should-be-strictly-hitting-left-handed catcher try to lay down a squeeze bunt right-handed.

I would like to that this moment to apologize to you, faithful reader, for I have no video to show you. You will have to take my word for how the execution of this almost-literal suicide squeeze manifested itself.

Conger squared around to bunt, but did so prematurely. Hamilton was charging down the third base line. Hill, perhaps intentionally, having had time to digest that the squeeze was on, threw a fastball straight at Conger’s chest. Conger jumped into the air, unable to rescind his offering at the pitch. The ball hit his bat, and then hit him in the stomach. Hamilton streaked across home as though that’s how baseball works. Strike. Do not pass go, Josh Hamilton, do not collect 133 million dollars. Eventually, Conger regained the ability to breath and weakly lined out to third baseman Mike Aviles, who dove into third base, nearly nabbing a now-lackadaisical Hamilton.

Francona came to the mound, fired up, and slapped Hill on the butt. The Indians just needed one more out, and Bryan Shaw was the guy who was going to get it. Former A’s prospect Grant Green took it from there, waving at a couple of Shaw’s pitches before throwing his helmet and bat to the ground. The Indians lived to play another inning.

And a few innings later, the Indians took a 3-1 lead when Drew Stubbs launched Blanton’s 91-mph fastball over the left field wall. Back in the seventh inning, Carlos Santana had gotten the Indians on the board by homering to the same part of the park. Peter Bourjos scaled the wall and barely missed out on a terrific catch, losing his glove into the bullpen in the process.

Yes, the Angels have been good at losing things this year, particularly baseball games. They can now put one in the win column: out-Cleveland-ing the Indians.