By Joe Haakenson, AngelsWin.com Contributor -
GAME 5 - ANGELS AT RANGERS
ARLINGTON, Texas -- It was the perfect situation for your $22-million-per-year superstar. Bases loaded, two out in the bottom of the ninth, his team down by three.
But Alex Rodriguez's high fly ball to left field dropped harmlessly into the awaiting glove of Angels left fielder Garret Anderson, and the game was over, a 6-3 Angels win over the Texas Rangers before 35,006 at the Ballpark in Arlington.
So certain that he hit the ball out for a game-winning grand slam that the Rangers' bench erupted and Rodriguez held his fist high in triumph as he headed towards first base. A moment later, he clutched his head with both hands.
With Troy Percival on the disabled list, it was Al Levine's job to close it out, and he did. Barely.
Thanks to Troy Glaus' three-run homer in the top of the ninth -- his second homer of the night and third in two games -- the Angels had a seemingly comfortable 6-2 lead. Angels reliever Ben Weber had two out in the ninth with one runner on when he lost his mechanics.
Weber walked Hank Blalock and Frank Catalanatto to load the bases. Levine, who earned a save Friday night, entered the game but walked Herbert Perry on four pitches, forcing in a run and bringing up Rodriguez representing the winning run.
Levine hung a 2-2 breaking ball to Rodriguez, but he got under it slightly and the game was over, leaving Levine's appreciation for Percival a notch higher.
''He does it in different fashion,'' Levine said. ''It's more exciting when he does it. I almost made everyone die in the dugout.''
Though it wasn't easy, the Angels' bullpen got the job done for the second night in a row sans Percival.
''You don't have to be hit with a brick in the head to know when Troy Percival's not around you're going to have to find other ways to get the job done,'' Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. ''There are not many guys in the league that get the job done like Troy. That being said, we have guys, when we mix and match, that can get it done too.''
Ramon Ortiz gave the Angels their second consecutive strong outing by a starter. Ortiz gave up two runs and five hits in seven innings. Both runs came across on solo homers, by Rodriguez in the first inning and Rafael Palmeiro in the second.
''He had his off-speed stuff working real well; he went to it quite a bit,'' Angels catcher Jorge Fabregas said. ''He threw a lot of changeups to lefties and sliders to righties. I think after (Rodriguez and Palmeiro) hit fastballs out, he got a little gun-shy with it.''
Rangers starter Hideki Irabu held the Angels scoreless on three hits through three innings before Glaus, who begins his two-game suspension Sunday, hit a solo homer with two out in the fourth, cutting the Angels' deficit to 2-1.
It was 2-1 in the sixth when with one out Tim Salmon was hit by a pitch. Salmon went to third on a double by Anderson, and Irabu was taken out of the game. Steve Woodard came in and struck out Glaus for the second out of the inning, then walked Brad Fullmer intentionally to load the bases and bring up Orlando Palmeiro.
Palmeiro hit the first pitch he saw from Woodard into center field for a two-run single and a 3-2 Angels lead.
''I would have done the same thing,'' Palmeiro said of the intentional walk to Fullmer. ''I don't play. It's a lot harder for me than a guy who plays every day. It felt good, you want to be a part of the team. You watch games and want to help out.''
It stayed 3-2 until the ninth, when Glaus unloaded on Todd Van Poppel with the key two-out, three-run homer.
''They threw a couple balls over the plate today,'' Glaus said of his two homers. ''I was able to take advantage of it. The only difference is when things are going bad, you don't take advantage of it.''
Such was case with Rodriguez, who missed his chance to be a hero.
''When it went over my head (I thought it was gone),'' Glaus said of Rodriguez's flyout. ''But when Garret tracked it and looked up I knew he had it.''
ARLINGTON, Tex. -- The Angels lost Benji Gil to the 15-day disabled list Friday when he sprained his left ankle, but at least they could joke about it.
Told manager Mike Scioscia said the swelling made it look like a 3-wood, Gil said: ''Yeah, it looked like a driver yesterday.''
When it happened, Gil was not in a joking mood. The Rangers' Rusty Greer, trying to avoid a Gil's tag at first base and beat him to the bag, slid into Gil's ankle. Not only did Gil suffer a sprain, but he was spiked as well.
''I was upset,'' Gil said. ''I don't see where there was a way he could've been safe. But anytime you get hurt, you get upset.''
Greer said he didn't think there was anything wrong with his slide.
''I'm playing the game; I'm trying to make it to first base,'' he said. ''I wouldn't try to run over Benji, he's quite a bit bigger than me.''
Gil joins the growing list of Angels first basemen to be knocked out of the lineup. Scott Spiezio is due back Sunday after serving a five-game suspension for fighting, and Shawn Wooten is out three months with a thumb injury.
''Actually I received a call from Woot,'' Gil said. ''He said it's not us, it's the position.''
Closer Troy Percival, who has a strained muscle in his right side, said it was his choice to go to the disabled list.
''I went to (Scioscia) after going to therapy (Friday),'' he said. ''We mapped out when I could play catch again, six days down the road, and then another couple days before throwing a bullpen, and another couple days before throwing a simulated game. It's almost 15 days by then. Why not get somebody up here?''
That ''somebody'' is Brendan Donnelly, who is on a major league roster for the first time at age 30. He spent a full 10 seasons in the minors, but never thought about giving up.
''I went through too much, too many teams,'' he said. ''I think a lot of people would have given up and gone on with their lives.
“I went through all of spring training with these guys, right up to the last pitch. Now I'm back and it feels like I've had a couple days off. It's nice to be back in this clubhouse.''
While Spiezio's suspension ends Sunday, third baseman Troy Glaus begins his two-game suspension. Spiezio will play first base and either Jose Nieves or Clay Bellinger will play third.
''I've been able to get through it, but it hasn't been fun at all,'' Spiezio said. ''I'm pretty much mad about the whole thing, but there's nothing I can do about it. It's almost over.''
Spiezio, who hasn't played since March 30th in the Angels' final spring training game, said he's tried to stay sharp through visualization and taking batting practice.
''That's all I can do,'' he said. ''I can't go out and get in a game situation. I feel good, but you never know if it's good enough until you get out there.''
Both Spiezio and Glaus were suspended for their roles in the March 9 spring training fight with the Padres.
Pitcher Aaron Sele left the team Saturday and returned to his home in Bellevue, Wash. to tend to a personal matter. Sele will rejoin the team in Anaheim in time to make his start Tuesday against the Mariners.