I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to get this entry up… boy, being sick is no fun.
After watching an awesome victory by the Halos on Thursday night I found myself heading back out to the park on Friday at about 3:00pm. Tonight’s matchup would be Jered Weaver vs. Josh Beckett and it was sure to be another sellout crowd. When I got to the Home Plate Gate I was first in line and I had about 45 minutes to kill… and before the gates opened there was another hearty crowd on hand:
I ran in, ignored the thunder sticks a worker tried to hand me, and made a beeline for the pavilion. With righties starting, there were sure to be some left-handed hitters knocking some balls out. I was out there first along with an older dude–we got to the seats at the same time but there were no Easter eggs to be found.
After a few minutes though, Kendry Morales smacked a pitch high and deep. It made it to the seats but I wasn’t quite in a position to catch it. I had moved to my left… but it was coming in a bit low. I leaned as far down and to the left as I could but it hit off the seats just below my glove. Luckily, the ball didn’t take a crazy bounce and I was able to nab it from the ground. Rob had come charging over and I heard him say, “Dang! Where’s my lucky ricochet?” with a grin on his face. I was thrilled that the bounce was lucky for me and not Rob–this was my 150th baseball. I wrote a nice 150 on it to commemorate the occasion. Rob congratulated me. It was a successful night, as far as personal goals were concerned.
Here’s what the stands looked like after that first snag of the day:
It filled up soon after. And it was just like the day before: not much space to maneuver. I adjusted my positioning based on the batters that were up but as the Angels finished I was stuck at just one baseball snagged. Though I got close to a few Red Sox homers—I was still at just one baseball as they began to wrap up BP.
I made it down to the field level and got to the dugout as the players headed off the field. As he headed into the dugout, I got my second (and final) ball of the day from Clay Buchholz. He threw it right to me in the third row. Nice–I’d doubled my playoff record. From one to two. Woo!
After that I decided to head over to the Angels’ side of the stadium as the players came out to warm up:
The players didn’t throw any balls into the stands but it was cooler than wandering aimlessly–after the Angels warmed up I went over to the visitor’s side:
Once the game started I got to hang out for a little while on the Field Level:
Then the seatholders started showing up. I decided to head up to the View Level… where my seats for both nights actually were. I started deep in left field:
And made my way behind home plate to the other side:
And finally, out to where my actual seat was located:
I sat there for exactly one half-inning. Bleh. Then it was time to continue my tour:
I’d been around this ballpark a hundred times, but never during the playoffs. There’s just a different energy. Normally the fans in Anaheim are very mellow and laid-back… I’m sure most Angel fans at the games come off as indifferent. That’s my perspective, anyway. But in the postseason there’s an energy that’s just simply wonderful to be a part of.
The pitching matchup, again, was intense. Weaver and Beckett were locked in a great duel. Each club put a single run on the board in the fourth. It was 1-1 going into the bottom of the seventh inning. Then the Angels put the game away. Maicer Izturis knocked in Howie Kendrick (running for Vladdy) and then Mike Napoli got hit by a pitch. With two men on Erick Aybar smashed a triple into the gap in right-center.
The place went nuts. Fans rejoiced:
It was 4-1 Angels at that point and that knocked Beckett out of the game:
And I managed to snag a seat behind the dugout (shown on the right) for the conclusion of the game.
Weaver pitched seven and a third innings and struck out seven. He yielded to Darren Oliver, and then Kevin Jepsen got the last out of the eighth and the first of the ninth. It was great! Scioscia made the call, with one out in the ninth, for his closer to come in and finish it.
Brian Fuentes came in–and though he made it pretty tense in that stadium (David Ortiz up to bat as the tying run), he nailed down the save. The crowd had been on their feet for, what seemed like, the last hour of the game:
It was a 4-1 victory and a two games to none series lead for the Angels! Two games, two consecutive nights, two wins for my team. It had been a great playoff experience!
After the game I hung out as long as the ushers let me, then grabbed some ticket stubs and found my way out to the main gate. I took a seat next to the Nick Adenhart memorial and just sat there and watched the people walk by for a few minutes:
It was somber. Fans left their ticket stubs with little notes to Nick on the mound. After a little while I made the trek to my car and home for the evening, two baseballs nestled safely in my backpack:
The Angels would head out to Boston to wrap up the series. Sweeping the Red Sox felt good–even though I was sick on Sunday morning when they won it. It was time to bring on the Yankees. Dun-DUN-DUHNN!!