Angels lose game, and Erick Aybar to injury
You won’t find Angels vs. Milwaukee in the heavyweight division of baseball rivalries with Yankees vs. Red Sox and Dodgers vs. Giants; Monday night marked the first time the Angels and Brewers had met since 2004.
But there seemed to be some tension between the teams after Milwaukee’s Casey McGehee took out Angels shortstop Erick Aybar with a hard and questionable slide into second base in the seventh inning of the Brewers’ 12-2 victory in Angel Stadium.
When Aybar, whose left knee bore the brunt of the collision, had to be helped off the field, it appeared a team that lost first baseman Kendry Morales to a season-ending broken leg May 29 might lose another key infielder for an extended period.
Aybar has been one of the Angels’ hottest hitters this month, batting .393 (22 for 56) with four doubles, two triples, 11 runs and six runs batted in on the team’s last trip.
But the injury was not as serious as it first looked; the leadoff batter received a diagnosis of a hyperextension of the left knee and is listed as day to day, though he appeared very stiff as he limped out of the clubhouse.
“Erick is a tough kid — he feels some pain,” Manager Mike Scioscia said. “You always think worst-case scenario, but hopefully it calms down. He was stiff, but he was walking around. We’re cautiously optimistic.”
The Angels did not think McGehee’s slide was dirty.
The Brewers were on their way to a lopsided victory, riding Ryan Braun’s third-inning grand slam against starter Joe Saunders, Randy Wolf’s solid start (seven innings, two earned runs, three hits), McGehee’s solo homer in the sixth and four runs against Trevor Bell in the seventh to a 10-2 lead.
McGehee was hit in the mid-section by a pitch, putting runners on first and second with one out, when Carlos Gomez hit a ground ball to first baseman Kevin Frandsen, whose throw to second was a little high and to Aybar’s right.
Aybar, 5 feet 10 and 170 pounds, lunged to catch the ball and reached his left leg back to touch the bag.
There was no way the Angels would turn a double play on the speedy Gomez, but the 6-1, 215-pound McGehee slid into Aybar with force, bending Aybar’s left leg backward at the knee.
“I thought it was a clean slide,” Scioscia said. “Erick was a little exposed, and Kevin pulled the throw inside. The slide was right over the bag, so I can’t find much fault with it.”
Angels center fielder Torii Hunter didn’t form an opinion about it until he saw a replay.
“Aybar was hung out to dry,” Hunter said. "[McGehee] was trying to break up the double play. That’s the way I play the game. It just so happened to be one of our better players, but we play the same way, and I respect that.”
Was McGehee still stinging from being hit by a pitch?
“Yeah, I got hit,” the designated hitter said. “Did it hurt? Yeah. But was I going in extra hard because I got hit? No. Unfortunately, the guy was in an awkward position. Look at the video. I didn’t try to pop up on him or roll him. Unfortunately, he got hurt.”
Bell threw a pitch at the next batter, Craig Counsell, bringing several Brewers to the top step of the dugout, but Counsell got out of the way. In the ninth, Rafael Rodriguez hit Counsell with a pitch.
Hunter fumed about another play involving McGehee, whose sixth-inning fly to deep center bounced off of the leaping Hunter’s glove and over the wall for a solo homer and a 6-2 lead.
“That was terrible. I’ve never had that happen in my career, and I didn’t like it,” said Hunter, a nine-time Gold Glove Award winner. “It was ugly.”
lose another key infielder for an extended period.
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