After more than two weeks since my last game I was pretty anxious about getting out to Angel Stadium again, this time to watch them take on the (ugh) first place (double-ugh) Rangers. Adding to my anxiety was the fact that I didn’t actually have my ticket in my hand as I approached the gates prior to their opening at 4:05pm. You see, about a month prior to this game I donated blood through the Red Cross at one of their blood drives (I’m O+, in case you’re wondering). There was an Angels/Dodgers tie-in and, long story short, I received a voucher for two free tickets to the game on this night. The tricky thing was that I had to exchange the voucher for the tickets and the Red Cross volunteers would be arriving at 4:00.
Well, I arrived at 3:30, was first in line, set my bag down, walked across the main plaza to the Red Cross booth, and waited. I also enlisted the help of BP regular, Eli, to help save my spot. At 3:55 I convinced the volunteer to let me redeem my voucher (before her supervisor got there, which was the initial issue she had) and then ran to will call because Michelle would be arriving later in the evening and that was the only way that ticket could be used for someone who wasn’t me… because I was the one who’d donated blood and my name was on the voucher… blah blah blah. Anyway, I did all that and got back into line with minutes to spare–and ran inside at 4:05 to set up shop in the bleachers.
The first ten minutes or so of batting practice were great! There were hardly any people around and I snagged the first ball of the night off the bat of Hideki Matsui after he hit a homer that took a bounce in the seats of Section 236. I beat out two other guys who were running for it. Just minutes later I nabbed a Torii Hunter BP homer that flew over my head and took a bounce right back toward me after I’d positioned myself closer to center field. With two baseballs in ten minutes I thought I’d be headed for a record-setting night–but things slowed down after that and the seats began to fill up.
That was at about a half hour after the gates had opened. And, I should point out Rob, with his foot on the seat in the middle of the right view photo, who’s got over 800 baseballs (most of them batted balls) to his name. And Skyler, the teenager in the black T-shirt and blue jeans near the usher in the left view photo. He’s an up and coming ballhawk who can be a little wild at times but who’s made some very nice plays in the bleachers. Also, that rather large usher who looks so stern is, in fact, making sure the young fan in the first row doesn’t stand on the seat or sit on the wall. Usually the ushers hang out in the back of the pavilion and let us do our thing during BP–they’re very friendly and professional.
Anyway, back to the now dead BP session… yuck. Well, the Angels left the field and the Rangers came out shortly thereafter. I spent a few minutes near the foul pole trying to get a ball thrown to me by a pitcher but came up empty. Once Vlad and Hamilton started hitting I ran back upstairs. Here was the view:
Unfortuantely, the Rangers exhibited an uncharacteristic lack of power during BP… except for Vlad who hit a couple shots to the rocks in center… but I didn’t snag another ball during BP.
I tried for a toss at the dugout. Nada. Tried for a warmup ball. Nope. As the game was starting Michelle still hadn’t arrived so I parked myself behind the Angels dugout to watch Dan Haren warm up before his second career outing with the Halos.
He did pretty well. I was glad because his first start, against the Red Sox, was going well but then he took a line drive to the arm and left after 4+ innings. He’d go longer today.
Once Michelle arrived we grabbed some seats… but then she had to take an urgent phone call from work so I followed her out to the concourse and used the opportunity to take a photo of myself with a commemorative ball from the All-Star Game (earning myself three points in the myGameBalls photo scavenger hunt).
We ended up in home run territory. My new goal has been to go for foul balls and home runs during games more than third out tosses. Those have become fairly easy. I’m still only at one foul ball and zero home runs in my life. Hopefully those numbers will improve soon.
This was our view for the game:
I didn’t take many pictures because, well, not a lot happened worth photographing. I’ll say this though: the pitching was spectacular. It was Haren against Rich Harden, returning fro
m the DL. Texas got on the board first, in the fourth inning, when Vlad smacked a two-run home run to left-center field. That was all the scoring the Rangers could do. Not bad, right? Haren went nine innings! And got the loss… the Angels only scored once–in the seventh on a Howie Kendrick solo homer. I thought we had a chance for a comeback but th ebullpen for the Rangers locked down a victory. Harden threw seven great innings. And the only chance I had at a homer? Well, it was hit right to my section but was about twenty feet shy of the fence–and ending up being a flyout.
I went down to the Ranger dugout for the ninth inning (while Michelle watched from the concourse) and watched as Neftali Feliz shut down the Angels. Alberto Callaspo flew out to center and Kendrick and Juan Rivera grounded out. It was a one-two-three ninth and it allowed the Rangers to increase their AL West lead over the Angels.
As the bullpen guys for the Rangers walked across the field I noticed Scott Feldman with a baseball–I called out, “Hey, Scott! Right here!” He flipped the ball to me for my third on the night. Not a bad night–but definitely not great. Still, I had a lot of fun at the game and kicked off my birthday celebration with a good time at the ballpark with my wife–I’d turn 27 the next day–I just wish the Angels would’ve won. The real celebration, however, would be the next weekend when Michelle and I would visit a new stadium…