For the Angels, Tuesdays have been a magical day this season
Angels’ Martin Maldonado, right, celebrates his home run with Danny Espinosa during the ninth inning against the Dodgers on Monday. (Jae C. Hong / Associated Press)
It began one month ago in St. Petersburg, Fla., when the Angels’ radio play-by-play man, Terry Smith, informed the team’s television analyst, Mark Gubicza, that the Angels were 7-0 on Tuesdays in 2017.
Every Tuesday on Fox Sports West, Gubicza hosts a signature segment, in which he asks players their preferences in specific categories like burgers, candies, or superheroes. So the natural connection was made: The Angels are undefeated on “Gubi Tuesdays”.
As the club continued to garner improbable victories on Tuesdays — the streak was up to a dozen entering Tuesday night at Dodger Stadium — the connection strengthened. When he wakes up on Tuesday each week, Gubicza’s social-media mentions are flooded with fans heralding his segment. He loves the concept.
“First of all, I have zero effect on the game, nor do I think I have any effect on the game, other than the entertainment part of it,” Gubicza said. “Still, it’s kind of fun, though.”
An effervescent, relentlessly positive man, Gubicza has taken to reminding players and coaches of the fun fact, grinning as he does it on the bus or in the dugout hours before a game. And then he waits for their incredulous response.
By Tuesday’s first pitch, at least half of the Angels were familiar with the streak, whether through forces within the team’s traveling party or outside of it. Reliever Blake Parker discovered it on the “SportsCenter” bottom line last week in a Manhattan, N.Y., hotel room, when the television continued to flash it along the ticker.
The Angels’ manager, Mike Scioscia, has referenced it in postgame news conferences, citing Gubicza. On Tuesday, he deferred questions about it to the broadcaster.
“I don’t believe in it,” Scioscia has told Gubicza. “But I guess the numbers say I should.”
When he pitched, Gubicza was superstitious. Over a 14-year, 132-win career spent almost exclusively with the Kansas City Royals, he took to wearing concert T-shirts under his uniform to combat the mid-summer humidity. He would start with Aerosmith, and then introduce Rush and Pink Floyd iterations in the later innings, when the sweat built up on his body.
He understands the nature of randomness and that this trend is a fluke unlikely to hold up to continued testing. Only one team has ever won more games on Tuesdays to begin a season: the 1997 Baltimore Orioles, who won 16 consecutive and 94 games overall.
As a then-Cleveland Indian, Angels pitching coach Charles Nagy knocked those Orioles out of the playoffs. On Tuesday afternoon, Gubicza informed Nagy of this team’s statistic. Nagy made a face, seemingly acknowledging the jinxing potential.
“It is beautiful how everyone says, ‘Well, not now,’ ” Gubicza said. “And then it keeps going.”
Tuesdays in 2017
7-6, at Oakland, April 4 — The club recorded its first victory of the season in dramatic fashion. Danny Espinosa hit the winning home run in the ninth inning after Matt Shoemaker made his return to the mound from emergency brain surgery.
6-5 (10 innings), vs. Texas, April 11 — The Angels notched their first extra-innings victory since 2015, in another comeback that required a three-run ninth inning. Then-Rangers reliever Sam Dyson coughed it up and has since been traded.
5-2, at Houston, April 18 — The Angels came back again, but earlier, on the strength of an Albert Pujols three-run homer in the fifth inning.
2-1 (11 innings), vs. Oakland, April 25 — After both teams were scoreless through regulation, Mike Trout clubbed a home run in the 10th inning to tie it, and Espinosa scored the winning run with two outs in the 11th.
6-4 (11 innings), at Seattle, May 2 — Pujols doubled in Trout for the winning run, then humorously stole third when Seattle forgot about him. He later scored an insurance run.
7-3, at Oakland, May 9 — In an odd game, the teams hit five home runs, including one by Ben Revere, the major league hitter least likely to hit a home run.
7-6 (11 innings), vs. Chicago White Sox, May 16 — Picked up off the scrap heap in April, David Hernandez stumbled in his attempt to save a three-run ninth-inning lead. But Cameron Maybin logged a five-hit game in his first start as the club’s leadoff hitter and scored the winning run.
4-0, at Tampa Bay, May 23 — Early home runs by Maybin and Trout and a star turn from Shoemaker made for a rare suspense-less victory.
9-3, vs. Atlanta, May 30 — Pujols hit the 599th home run of his career and batted again for his first chance at No. 600 amid an outlandish third inning. The Angels scored all nine of their runs in that frame.
5-3, at Detroit, June 6 — After the Angels raced out to an early lead, closer Bud Norris loaded the bases in a tense ninth inning before striking out Alex Avila on a backdoor slider to end the game.
3-2 (11 innings), vs. New York Yankees, June 13 — With the streak in double digits, Eric Young Jr. tied the score with a solo home run in the eighth inning and then drove in the winning run with a walk-off single.