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Sunday, August 14, 2022

Wow! Look What The Angels Did!

The Los Angeles Angels did something Thursday afternoon that has never been done before in a major league game. Right away you are being super negative about this, thinking it must be some kind of sequence of bloopers that somehow ends with their opponent scoring five runs on one wild pitch. It’s because I said the Angels did something. If I’d said “Shohei Ohtani did something” or “Mike Trout did something,” or possibly even “Janson Junk did something,” you might be looking for a cool highlight. It’s a little unfair, this fixation of yours on the bad things that happen to the Angels organization. It’s unbecoming, is what it is, and I’ll tell you what else: It’s unhealthy! Here you are, reading a baseball blog on a nice summer Friday morning and instead of optimism, you are practicing pessimism, even cynicism.

Well, prepare to have your world rocked, buddy: The Los Angeles Angels scored seven runs on seven solo dingers off of Oakland Athletics pitchers Thursday afternoon, tying a franchise record for home runs in a game, tying a MLB record for solo home runs in a game, and becoming the first team in history to score seven or more runs in a game all on solo homers. Please point out for me which part of this is negative, you negative nilly. Seven runs? Very good. Seven dingers? Even better. The Angels lineup produced nine hits in nine innings, and seven of them left the yard. Hmm, you are wondering if nine three-run home runs wouldn’t be preferable. To this I say: Balderdash! A fully optimized hitting performance would feature nothing but home runs—no singles, no walks, no outs—and so each home run would naturally be a solo home run, and they would go on infinitely, until our planet is finally swallowed up by the very star that gives it life. The Angels, if anything, have now come closer to baseball perfection than any lineup in the sport’s long history.

The first dinger of this historic afternoon came in the first inning, off the mighty bat of Shohei Ohtani. Ohtani was responsible for two of Los Angeles’s seven dingers, making Thursday’s outing Ohtani’s fifth multi-homer game of the season and the 11th of his career. The first was a loud blast to the opposite field:

The second was an absolutely preposterous pull-shot to right on a slider that came in a solid seven inches off the inside of the plate. Getting the good part of the bat onto this ball is hard enough, without getting all the way around on it and smashing it to baseball hell:

The remaining dingers came from Kurt Suzuki, Taylor Ward, Jo Adell, Jared Walsh, and Mickey Moniak, in his very first at-bat as a member of the Angels. The incredible power display left the Athletics in awe, at a loss to explain what they’d seen. “Today was a little bit of a different baseball game than I have probably been a part of,” said Oakland manager Mark Kotsay. “It is a very interesting boxscore.” Yes it is! Seven solo dingers! Wow!

“I’ve never seen anything like that,” reflected Oakland starter Paul* Blackburn, responsible for four of the Angels’ bombs. Well, Paul, that’s because no one has, because it has never happened before. Seven runs on seven solo dingers, by one team, in one baseball game. Never happened before! Once again I would like to emphasize that it is good to hit seven solo dingers in a game! Way to go, Angels!

It just so happens—and really this is a minor detail measured against the weight of baseball’s entire history as a professional sport—that the Angels did not technically “win” the game Thursday afternoon. Junk was crud, allowing six earned runs on five hits and two walks in less than three innings, and Los Angeles’s bullpen allowed another pair of runs before settling down in the later innings. Despite hitting home runs in each of the game’s first four innings, the Angels found themselves down 6–3 in the fourth and 8–4 in the fifth, and simply could not get the crucial eighth and ninth solo dingers that would’ve pushed them over the top.

“I guess they always say solo home runs don’t beat you, but you feel like if you hit seven, you might,” said Angels manager Phil Nevin, after the loss. “It didn’t work out for us.” With all due respect to Nevin, whose job title requires that he perform angst over whatever the scoreboard has to say about how his team performed, this is precisely the negative attitude that dogs this poor team nowadays. In only the narrowest, most technical reading could it be said that “it” didn’t work out for the Angels. They hit seven dingers! Seven solo dingers! They scored 100 percent of their seven runs on solo dingers. Never been done before! Wow! Lots of teams can score seven runs. Lots of teams can hit seven dingers. Hell, this isn’t even the first time a team has hit seven dingers in a game and lost. It’s happened six other times in MLB’s 146-year history. Nothing to see here!

So the Angels did not “win” one measly baseball game, against the worst team in the American League, and in fact dropped their three-game series, and in fact are now 24 games back in their division, and are 12 games out of the wild card, and realistically have nothing left to play for this season, and may lose Ohtani in free agency after next season, and also Mike Trout is now dead. Big deal! They scored seven runs on seven solo dingers! S-E-V-E-N.

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