Cory Rasmus Gets the Start, He & Bullpen Come Up Big

On an early evening in Oakland, California, the Los Angeles Angels and manager Mike Scioscia had not a single experienced major league starting pitcher to choose from. Narrowing the selection down to a precious few choices, Scioscia picked Cory Rasmus, who has been shuttling back and forth between the Angels and Triple-A for two seasons, and who had never before started a major league game. He only went three innings tonight, but it was a brilliant three, that got the team off to a great start in the third of their four game series against the A’s. Rasmus allowed a single hit and no runs, while walking none and striking out six. He was followed by a parade of the rest of the Angels’s bullpen, seven in number, who also were near perfect, once again blanking the powerful A’s, on two hits over the final six innings.

Two fourth inning runs were more than enough, as the Angels won 2-0, extending their winning streak over the A’s to four, and their American League West Division lead also to

four games. 33-year-old Yoslan Herrera, with his lifetime 8.88 ERA and single major league victory, acquired six years ago during his only other major league stay, retired two fourth-inning batters, and received credit for the win. One of those batters was Jonny Gomes, who A's manager Bob Melvin used as a pinch hitter for lefty-hitting Josh Reddick, in that fourth inning, when his team loaded the basis against lefty Michael Roth. Bare in mind that the game was still scoreless. This type
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of move by Melvin demonstrates the importance of this series, and how vitally important a first place division finish is under the new system of two the wild card teams playing a single game, one-and-out “series”.

It”s hard to believe now, but 21 days ago, the A’s had a four game lead on the Angels. That’s an eight game switch over three weeks.

Roth had just joined the Angels today, with Efren Navarro being sent down. Navarro has been a very productive player for the Angels, filling in at first base and playing sterling defense there and especially in the outfield, while providing timely hitting. He will be back in a couple of days when rosters expand on September 1. Besides Navarro, the Angels

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will recall a couple of more hitters, specifically C.J. Cron and J.B. Shuck, plus speed demon Tony Campana, and at least three more bullpen arms, but there is nary a starter to be found in the organization that merits a fall call-up. It would seem that Rasmus may be in the rotation for awhile, and that at least for his next couple of starts, seven relief pitchers per game may be a
common sighting.

Tomorrow, Matt Shoemaker, going against the A’s and Scott Kazmir, who the Angels beat up for seven earned runs in three innings a week ago in Oakland, will try to give the Angels a four-game sweep of the team that all the experts said was baseball’s best. Despite starting the season in the bullpen, and with a full month yet to go, Shoemaker can tie the franchise record for most wins by a rookie pitcher, which, at 14, is jointly held by a trio of outstanding names in Angels’ pitching lore: Dean Chance, Marcelino Lopez, and Frank Tanana.

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