Late.

Sorry this is late today.  The day job being what it is, today I was going to have to write over lunch, or not at all.

If I’d stayed up last night for the end of the Angels-A’s series opener, I’d probably just be waking up.  Early on in that game, I tweeted: “I suppose I should be happy LAA is up on OAK early.  Difficult for me.”

The thing about a skirmish between those two clubs is, on a day when the Rangers are idle, one of them is going to gain ground.

Might as well put ’em both through 19 innings in the process.  Oakland 10, Los Angeles 8 ended, after about 300 pitches each side, at 1:41 a.m.

1:41 a.m. Pacific.

On what was Josh Hamilton Appreciation Night in Oakland, an apparently unofficial but widely recognized exercise in super-gauche as A’s fans loudly thanked the Angels’ new right fielder all night for booting that fly ball in Oakland last October 3, he went 0 for 8.

Not only that, but he struck out three times, a bit more frequently than his nearly-every-third-at-bat rate for the season.

Not only that, but in the five at-bats that didn’t require at least three pitches to end, three of them lasted one pitch, and another lasted two pitches.

It had been going so well for Los Angeles, too.  Albert Pujols had busted out of a deep slump with two home runs.  The club was up, 7-2, needing to record only six outs with that five-run cushion to close the thing down.

The Angels lost.

Not just the game, but Peter Bourjos, who lands today on the disabled list with a pulled hamstring suffered in an inning (the 11th) that should have never been played.  Third baseman Luis Jimenez left the game with a bruised shin and could miss at least a game.  Same holds true for relievers Jerome Williams (73 pitches last night) and possibly Michael Kohn (31), Barry Enright (28), Ernesto Frieri (27), and Michael Roth (“only” 23 but brutalized therein).

As Orange County Register writer Jeff Fletcher noted, not even midway into the extra frames: “This may be the Angels’ toughest loss of the year . . . even if they win.”

They didn’t.

We talked yesterday about how Texas has just lost consecutive games for the first time this year.

The Angels have managed to stop the loss-bleeding after one defeat just one time all season (when they beat Texas in 11 innings a week ago today).  They have losing streaks of three games, and five, and two, and two, and now three, going into tonight’s Game Two in Oakland.

After Los Angeles finishes with the A’s, they head home for four with Baltimore, while Oakland has a day off before traveling to New York for three with the Yankees to kick off a 10-game road trip.

Once the Angels are done with the Orioles, they have a day off of their own before jumping to Houston for three.

Is it gauche to wonder, if the A’s and O’s series don’t go well, whether there might be a high-level meeting at 2000 E. Gene Autry Way in Anaheim on that Monday before the team leaves town?

Or to tweet, as Los Angeles Times reporter Bill Shaikin did today: “Hamilton can’t hit, Pujols can’t run, [Jered] Weaver can’t pitch – and [Vernon] Wells is batting third for [the] Yankees.  Today ends [the] cruelest month for [the] Angels”?

Or to write a whole report, abbreviated as it might be, that’s about the fourth-place team in the division rather than the team sitting at the top?

Probably is, so let me leave you with this:

Yu Darvish, as a big leaguer, has made 17 starts immediately following a Rangers loss.

He’s 11-3, 3.01 in those games.

Including 4-0, 1.01 this season.

Not that you can find a whole lot of troublesome splits for that guy.

I’m still keeping an eye on tonight’s game in Oakland, and on every A’s game and Angels game all season long.  They all matter.

The A’s are two games out, the Angels seven back.

On this date a year ago, the A’s were 6.5 games behind Texas, the Angels nine games back.  And we know how that ended up.

They all matter.

Stop the bleeding tonight, Yu.

Even if, for Texas, relatively speaking, it’s basically a paper cut.

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