Travis praises the heavens over baseball’s new enforcement of a rule, and catches a quick pitcher’s duel between two division leaders

Yes, I’m enjoying NL ball more than the American League at this point, but, on a weekend where the two AL division leaders get the chance to play each other, I’ll undoubtedly indulge in some DH play. So, tonight, it’s the Los Angeles Angels, who have undoubtedly proven to this point that they are, indeed, legit and the Chicago White Sox, who I still have my doubts about. Let’s see how this goes.

28-21 Angels (Joe Saunders, 7-1, 2.48) @ 26-20 White Sox (Gavin Floyd, 4-2, 2.92)

It really was Joe Saunders vs. Gavin Floyd tonight. They pretty much put up identical starts, with the exception of Floyd’s 5th inning, where Torii Hunter goes deep, followed by Floyd loading the bases on two walks and a single before hitting both Maicer Izturis and Gary Matthews Jr. to make it 3-0. Chicago put up one on Saunders in the 9th (the inherited runner coming in on Francisco Rodriguez’s watch) before K-Rod shuts them down, pumping his fists and screaming to the heavens after getting Joe Crede swinging to end it. Goose Gossage, were you watching this?

Tonight’s broadcast crew: Ken Harrelson and Darrin Jackson on WGN! Of all the homer broadcast crews out there, I’d heard that the White Sox guys are the kings of them all. There was definite reason for that, as Harrelson certainly does cheer on the ball after it’s hit and refer to Chicago as “the good guys”, but his act was toned down considerably from what I’d previously seen, as Jackson did much of the play-calling, with Harrelson chirping in fairly infrequently. Congratulations Sutton and Grace, you’re still leading this one!

A really fun pitching matchup. Saunders came off as a Roy Halladay-type. He worked quickly, didn’t rely too much on the strikeout, and put the ball on the ground. I’d rather have a guy like that on my team than a high strikeout guy, when it comes down to longevity. Floyd, though much more erratic, got out of some innings just as quickly, but also seemed more anxious to go with the heat, though.

Harrelson, at one point, stated that umps are finally enforcing, tonight for the first time, the unofficial pitch clock rules. This game moved real quick, and this might be part of the reason. Needless to say, I love this rule. In fact, I’ve previously advocated a NBA-style pitch clock at the top of the backstop counting down. Add that to the list of things that’ll happen should I be named commissioner of baseball.

All in all, it was a game where the teams were tough to evaluate. We already knew that both teams had a lot of talent with some pop, but nobody proved it today. Even in the Angels’ biggest inning, it was largely the other pitcher’s ineffectiveness that got the runners in. I really liked both pitchers (especially Saunders), but the offenses were non-existent tonight.

The Angels verdict: There’s definite talent, and it’s definitely nice to be able to be versatile with the DH spot. Regardless, outside of Saunders, they weren’t greatly impressive today, and K-Rod hasn’t been lights out lately. It’s needless to worry about them, but they’ll need to get hot if they’re gonna take the AL this year.

The White Sox verdict: In a bad division, I could see them being the best team. Orlando Cabrera was troublesome to the Angels today at the top of the order, and there’s plenty of power in the lineup. The finesse part may be lacking, and it might be what hurts them this year, but the Cleveland Indians and Detroit Tigers can’t let them get too far ahead, because they won’t give in if they get comfortable. Regardless, they’re probably the weakest of the AL playoff clubs at the moment.

May teams left to watch

New York Yankees

Detroit Tigers

Kansas City Royals

Minnesota Twins

Seattle Mariners

Texas Rangers

Atlanta Braves

Florida Marlins

New York Mets

Philadelphia Phillies

Washington Nationals

Chicago Cubs

Cincinnati Reds

Houston Astros

Milwaukee Brewers

Pittsburgh Pirates

St. Louis Cardinals

Los Angeles Dodgers

San Diego Padres

San Francisco Giants

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