COMMENTARY | It was supposed to be a fun weekend filled with extra-base hits, easy outs and a plethora of scoring to delight one and all. The Houston Astros were coming to town and this was just what the Angels needed to get the season back on track. But they had no idea the carnage that would ensue would be their own.
The Angels have been struggling so far this season. They just can't seem to get things going offensively and their pitching has been dreadful. What they needed was to get some easy wins off some terrible teams, and the baseball gods answered with a four-game series at home against the lowly Astros.
These were supposed to be just a few easy days at the park -- like four company picnic softball games -- to help bring the Angels together and lift their spirits for the season ahead. But, like any horror movie, what started off as a delightful gathering of unsuspecting acquaintances turned quickly into a bloodbath.
The first game started off promising when the Angels took a two-run lead. Classic horror movie setup here: make the audience like the main characters more so that when the characters start getting knocked off, the audience has a stronger reaction. And then the Astros struck with two three-run innings of their own to eliminate the first victim and stun the audience.
But it's just one game, right? There are still three games left and everything will be fine. Or in horror movie terms: But it's just one victim, right? There are still plenty of us left alive and everything will be fine.
No such luck. The second game was even more grizzly as Bud Norris took to the hill for the Astros and chased the Angels' offense into the woods and slaughtered them. Norris is 3-0 against the Angels this year and has only allowed one run in 21 innings. Bud Norris!
The silver lining to Saturday's game was that every fan in attendance was part of a magical moment in baseball history when they set the record for "most people wearing wigs." They deserved to lose. (Said the writer who was part of the Dodger Stadium record for most people doing the Macarena.)
Of course, the third game seemed like they might just get away. That's how movies are written. The death is much more dramatic if the audience feels like the victim has reached safety. The result was a narrow 5-4 loss to the merciless Astros.
The fourth game seemed like it was a can't-lose for the Angels. Right? There had to be at least one survivor -- if only to carry forward to the sequel. Sequels are extremely important in the movie world because you're selling a movie that already has a built-in fan base.
There would not be a sequel. The Angels took the lead early, and we all thought they would survive to make it out of this nightmare weekend series. But it wasn't to be, as the Astros tied it up and then took the lead to complete the four-game sweep.
This is baseball and the old saying goes that even the worst teams win a third of its game. The Astros are the worst team in baseball, but this weekend the Angels turned them into an unstoppable machine.
The Angels scored a total of eight runs in the four games against a pitching staff that, coming into the series, was actually worse than theirs. All of a sudden the Astros were pitching Jordan "Jason Voorhees" Lyles, Bud "Leatherface" Norris, Dallas "Freddie Krueger" Keuchel and Eric "that crazy guy from the Saw movies" Bedard. The Angels' lineup was just no match for this assembly of terrifying pitchers.
The Astros were supposed to be the league's whipping boy for everyone to get fat on after tough games against "real" teams. "Everyone" except the Angels -- who, with a 3-7 record against Houston this year, just cannot put it together against the Astros. Maybe what looks like trembling in paralyzing fear is actually a show of the greatest possible sympathy for the Angels to continue to roll over against this vastly inferior team.
This weekend was a disaster for the Angels and instead of being a launching point, it may well have been the crucial nail in the coffin for the rest of the season. It's early June, so their fate is not sealed and it's still possible for a hero to emerge to rescue the team.
In time, people will forget the unlikely massacre at the meager hands of the Astros, but now the bottom-feeding Chicago Cubs have come to town and one can only guess what horrors are in store for the Angels.
Jed Rigney is a Los Angeles-based award-winning filmmaker who also fancies himself a baseball writer. He is the lead humor columnist at Through The Fence Baseball.
- Sports & Recreation
- Houston Astros