Nelson Cruz blew as hard as he could and opened his eyes.
“Happy Birthday Nelson!!!”
He looked at the assembled faces - Robinson and Jean and Kyle and Chooch and the rest of the team. He noticed there were ten candles ringing the cake. His teammates had chosen not to include the number of candles equivalent to his birthday. He couldn’t decide if it was a kindness or an insult. Nelson sighed.
Getting old doesn’t look terrible, usually. You see those around you slow down imperceptibly, moving a bit more gingerly on occasion, but on a daily basis it can often be obscured. It’s not usually the day-to-day that reveals the cost of aging, it’s the unexpected. Today Nelson Cruz hurt himself again. He rounded first base on a laser to the wall and realized he needed to sprint halfway through his next step. It did not go well. The injury is supposedly not all that serious but on Cruz’s 37th birthday that could mean anything. Tomorrow he may return, he may miss a few days, he may make a move to the 10-day DL in anticipation of the upcoming All-Star Break. In a game that did its damndest to be boring in spite of a variety of absurd goings-on, Cruz being replaced by Mike Zunino was an early downer that the rest of the game built upon.
Sam Gaviglio, for instance, was interesting. Somehow he lowered his BABIP allowed, from .237 to .235, gave up a homer to Andrelton Simmons, continued to look eminently hittable, and earned a bevy of weak grounders for his trouble. He also was tested repeatedly by Angels baserunners. Cameron Maybin, who made several nice plays in center field and was a general nuisance, left early on Gaviglio in the 1st inning and was nabbed at second. Ben Revere later stole successfully, however, and when Maybin drove him in later that inning, he took up residence in Gaviglio’s head. That unfortunate rental lead to a type of balk you see from 13 year-olds sparingly.
It didn’t look much better than I laid out above.
Blessedly, Albert Pujols celebrated his gigantic ALBERT 600 day celebration by grounding into an easy double play after this. Gaviglio pitched just fine, going 6.1 innings with his usual low Ks and BBs numbers (3/1) and a gaggle of grounders. A 2-0 game through the fifth inning, nothing felt out of reach, but the listlessness of the bats proved contagious. Ricky Nolasco narrowly avoided a Maddux which is like saying you avoided a bed bug infestation by burning your house down. When Gaviglio left, Marc Rzepczynski was unable to retire old friend Luis Valbuena, and Luis bat flipped a looping line drive down the left field line as the Angels built a 4-0 lead that they would carry to the final pitch.
Dan Altavilla, sensing his chances of appearing in a game over the next two days might be fleeting, pounced on the moment to announce what country he was from on Canada Day (hint, not that one.)
Dan I am. I do quite like that Uncle Sam. I do quite like white & crimson. I like it mixed w/stars & blue. I love this country how bout you? pic.twitter.com/Lo1eDxtXXK— Lookout Landing (@LookoutLanding) July 2, 2017
Red, white, and woo. James Paxton pitches tomorrow, hopefully not too hung over from Canada Day festivities, and will hopefully be strong as he looked in his last start. Having some better patience at the plate from his teammates wouldn’t be the worst either.