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August 5, 2011 at 11:44 PM

When playing the kids, you take the good with the bad and move on

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Some folks will want to jump all over Casper Wells for what happened in the eighth inning, when he got nabbed going a bit too liberally around third and was part of an unusual 3-6-5 double play.
But it’s a bit as I initially thought.
He’s just not used to the speed at which these things happen in the bigs. If it happens again, I’m sure there will be consequences. But it probably won’t happen again anytime soon.
Don’t forget, we also saw Ichiro picked off first base tonight. We saw Mike Carp thrown out on a steal attempt that looked like some kind of hit-and-run that didn’t work, but to be honest, it was so early on and so much else happened after that I didn’t have time to ask about it and file my deadline story.
But stuff happened tonight on the bases.
And while the Wells stuff didn’t help the M’s considering it was the only time all night they got beyond first base, the play was more a tribute to the quick-thinking of Angels shortstop Erick Aybar than anything else. Aybar took the throw to second for a force out with two on, then looked to throw back to first to complete a 3-6-3 double play.
But Trayvon Robinson was too quick up the line. After a quick feint. Aybar turned and fired to third, hoping to catch a first-year guy rounding the bag the way he’s probably done a bunch of times in the minors. And the gambit paid off. Wells was indeed a little too aggressive.
“I screwed up, that’s the bottom line,” Wells said. “I was being aggressive in thinking of rounding the base. I turn around and the ball was already over there.”
Yes indeed. That’s the way these things happen in the majors. The kind of play a playoff-contending team like the Angels makes to stay in it. These guys have been to the post-season before.
When I asked manager Eric Wedge about it, he agreed. Make no mistake, Wedge was not happy with the baserunning tonight. But he’s been around long enough to know that these types of mistakes happen with new players.
“It’s a young mistake,” he said. “You’ve got to always be aware of what’s going on behind you. When you’re rounding first base right there you’ve got to almost stick on the bag. Because you’ll see that a lot. A guy will come across and not have a play at first and then either pull a fake or turn and burn and at least look at third base.
“So, that’s the speed at this level and just overall awareness.”
Wedge also saw Dan Cortes and Miguel Olivo get crossed up on that wild pitch in the 10th that moved Torii Hunter into position to score the winning run on a Vernon Wells single. The M’s were still trying to figure out post-game exactly what happened there.
But there was some positive stuff as well.
For a guy making his major league debut, Trayvon Robinson had quite a night. The highlight was that catch off Hunter in the third to rob him of a home run.

“I thought he hit it pretty good,” Robinson said. “But it’s a low fence over there and I just wanted to get there and make an attempt. I happened to catch the ball. I was quite surprised myself.”
Hunter had robbed a few guys himself on plays like that.
“After I did it, I put my hand up and let everybody know I caught the ball,” Robinson said. “Then, I immediately turned to Torii and I was like ‘Oh, God. I’ve got to walk past him.’ But it was pretty exciting.”
Robinson also collected his first hit on a single off Jered Weaver in the sixth. He’s giving the ball to his mother, who he said kept him focused on his dreams while growing up in South Central Los Angeles about a 40-minute drive from here.
The hit brought Robinson a different feeling than his catch — one of relief.
He compared it to when he notched his first hit while switch-hitting in the minors.
“It was kind of like that feeling, just times six,” he said.
M’s starter Jason Vargas had that feeling while watching Robinson steal the home run from Hunter. Vargas hadn’t looked good in three outings since the All-Star Break, but things went much better for him here on a night he spotted his fastball for six innings while mixing in a great change-up.
“It was a pretty good first day,” he said of Robinson. “It was a pretty good catch. It saved me some runs. To do that your first day in the big leagues, I don’t know…I guess it’s all downhill from there, huh?”
Vargas, you should know, has a very dry sense of humor. I actually saw him go up to Robinson when the media wasn’t around, fist-bump him quietly by his locker stall and offer words of encouragement.
On the pitching front, Vargas was tough when he had to be with two on and one out in the sixth. I was surprised Wedge waited so long to get a guy up in the bullpen, with Vargas closing in on 100 pitches at that point.
But he hung in there, got a broken bat groundout — with a great play by Jack Wilson at shortstop — then a strikeout to escape. Vargas said being left in the game in such a situation always boosts a pitcher’s confidence. But he’d been making good pitches with runners in scoring position most of the night and felt reasonably confident he’d do OK.
The bullpen looked like the bullpen of old. Good work from Aaron Laffey, Jamey Wright and Josh Lueke. But you’re not going to hold the Angels off the scoreboard forever.
Games like these are usually won by the contending teams. And the rebuilding ones? They take their lumps with their kudos and move on to fight another day.



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