It was 1-1 in the bottom of the 10th inning of an intense 1-1 ballgame with the bases loaded and at the plate was 2009 MVP Finalist Kendry Morales. Jered Weaver had only given up an unearned run through 7 innings and it appeared he was going to end up with a loss. However, Bobby Abreu struck lightning in the bottom of the 8th and hit a solo HR off King Felix to tie things up at 1-1 while an even unlikelier situation later unfolded when the Angels’ beleaguered bullpen managed to throw three shutout innings to send the game into the bottom of the tenth.
Here, Morales stood with the chance to end the game in a myriad of different ways. A sacrifice fly or hard ground ball up the middle would have sufficed to send Angels Stadium into a frenzy, but Morales went the dramatic route as fireworks were ignited after he launched a Brandon League fastball over the left-center wall to end a close, hard-fought game with a not-so-close final tally of 5-1. The joy in the Angels dugout was genuinely over-the-top and Morales’ teammates cleared a nice landing zone for the hero at home plate. Morales broke out into a huge grin and eagerly gathered himself in preparation for an emphatic, celebratory jump on home plate. He flung his helmet into the air in anticipation of a rowdy and physically brutal welcoming from his jubilant teammates. His jump on home plate, however, was not so successful. Morales crumbled to the ground, held up only by the hands and arms of his teammates. These hands and arms had been reared to slap his back and head in appreciation and celebration, but now were being used to brace him and prevent him from collapsing. Morales’ leg was broken.
Angels fans also had their hands and arms out and ready to deliver fives, hugs, and pounds. But they too will have to be used as a brace; a brace for the reality that our most exciting young player won’t be around for awhile.