I’d feared that the Angels could have had a lot of momentum heading into this weekend’s series: Holding their own so well in the absence of Trout, and coming out of the All Star Break with the return of their triumphant hero. But here’s the thing. These Rays are good. Like a couple games back from the division lead, if the season ended today they’d be in, good.
Sure, they couldn’t pull off the sweep in yesterday’s west coast matinee, but I still liked what I saw. Archer looked sharp as ever, going six full frames, striking out nine while giving up just five hits and two runs.
Longo did Longo things, going 3-4 on the day and scoring 2 runs, through no fault of his own making less of an impact with Mallex Smith and Corey Dickerson combining to go 0-8 ahead of him.
Adeiny Hechavarria, who is (with apologies to Victor Hedman) quickly becoming one of my favorite defensive players in Tampa Bay history, flashed some serious glove as he does pretty much every day we see him out there. This guy is a treat.
Most of all, though, I can’t recall a Rays player who has gone from so deep in my doghouse all the way to the top of my list of favorites quite like one Justis Logan Morrison. With the Rays down 2-0 in the 7th, stymied all day by Parker Bridwell, LoMo absolutely SMASHED a ball over the fence in right center. He admired it a bit, tossed his bat approvingly, and brought a genuine smile to my face. That’s how you energize a team. We’re never out of a game with bats like that.
The tie didn’t last all that long. CJ Cron soon ruined it with a two-run homer of his own in the following inning to put the Angels out front with a lead they wouldn’t relinquish, Souza’s efforts aside.
But this team, man. 49-44 as they head to Oakland. Tied for second in the division at the moment and at the top of the wild card standings. They’re making moves. They’re hitting. They’re pitching. They’re defending.
This is a team we can rally around. Cliff Floyd isn’t walking through that door this year. Neither is Eric Hinske. This isn’t 2008, but this team seems to have that special something that only comes around every once in a while for a team like the one we root for.
I’ll tell you this. Results aside, this team is giving us something meaningful and interesting to watch this summer. And as we enter each and every season, that’s all I ask for.