By Joe Haakenson, AngelsWin.com Contributor -
MAY 31, 2002
GAME 51 - ANGELS
MINNEAPOLIS -- Many pitchers would not have survived the inning Angels starter Jarrod Washburn encountered Friday night against the Minnesota Twins.
Washburn got the three outs he needed to get out of the second inning, but he should have had three others. As it was, he allowed only one run in the inning and the Angels offense took it from there in an 11-3 victory before 17,101 at the Metrodome.
Bengie Molina had four hits and Scott Spiezio had three to lead a 16-hit attack in beating Angels nemesis Eric Milton, who entered the game with a 5-0 career mark against them.
But it was Washburn's ability to maintain his composure and escape the second that was the difference in the game.
The three outs that weren't came when shortstop Benji Gil lost a pop fly in the Metrodome roof for a leadoff double by Doug Mientkiewicz. Two batters later, Mientkiewicz scored after A.J. Pierzynski hit a comebacker to Washburn. The throw to first tailed on Washburn and Pierzynski knocked the ball out of Spiezio's glove at first, allowing him to reach and the other baserunners to advance.
Washburn lost yet another out when the next batter, Denny Hocking, grounded to second baseman Adam Kennedy. Kennedy threw home when it appeared that Dustan Mohr was breaking from third. Instead, Mohr returned to third and Hocking reached to load the bases.
Washburn, though, got out of it by retiring the next two hitters and keeping the game tied at 1.
``The defining moment was the second inning,'' Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. ``We give them six outs and he holds 'em to one run. That was huge. It gave us a chance to go after Milton. You're not going to give a club like that six outs and give up only one run very often.''
Washburn said he never got rattled despite the circumstances.
``There's nothing you can do about it,'' he said. ``I've pitched in this stadium before. Things like (losing the ball in the roof) happen. I used to come to games here as a kid and it happened then too.''
Washburn made so many pitches in that inning (27) that it cut short his outing to six innings. But he gave up only two runs and four hits to win his fifth decision in a row, improving to 5-2.
``He's amazing,'' Spiezio said of Washburn. ``He's a very aggressive individual, both on and off the field. He's one of those guys that if you tell him to do something, he'll do the opposite. He's stubborn, but in a good way.
``He'll listen to the old guys like (Aaron) Sele and (Kevin) Appier and the pitching coach, (Bud Black) but he's not giving in to anything.''
The Angels' big inning offensively came in the fourth when they scored five runs on five hits and knocked Milton out of the game. Besides having a 5-0 career mark against the Angels, Milton took in a 1.38 ERA against them as well as his no hitter in 1999.
``He's one of the premier pitchers in the league,'' Scioscia said. ''The guys got some balls to hit and didn't miss 'em.''
The Angels again spread the wealth offensively, as everyone in the starting lineup had at least one hit. And it came one night after their disappointing loss on Thursday night, when they blew a 5-0 lead to lose, 7-6.
``That's what successful teams do,'' Washburn said. ``You can't let one loss get you down. (Thursday) night was one that got away, one we should have won. But we came out the next day and played well.''
MINNEAPOLIS -- In the early All-Star balloting, only one Angel is even in the top five at their position (third baseman Troy Glaus is fourth). Not one Angel outfielder is in the top 15 of the voting.
Because the fans vote for the starters and it's the fans' game, most of the Angels don't mind. But left fielder Garret Anderson felt snubbed last season when he wasn't picked as a reserve. He was hitting .279 with 15 homers and 62 RBIs at the break last year.
``There's politics involved, and that takes the fun out of it,'' Anderson said. ``I thought I had a case last year but I didn't get picked. There were a lot of guys like that, I wasn't the only one. The coaches take care of their own, and it kind of takes the luster out of it.''
Anderson said it would be ``cool'' to make an All-Star team some time during his career, but he doesn't dwell on it.
``I'm more proud of playing well over the course of a whole season, not just half the season,'' he said. ``But if I do good enough and make it one year, so be it.''
The fans voting has been criticized over the years because of ballot-box stuffing, and now it's possible to vote on internet.
``People vote for whoever they want to vote for,'' Anderson said. ``I think it's cool they pick the starting lineup, although there are glitches. Fans vote who they like instead of who deserves to be there.''
The Angels pitchers have started hitting soft toss and will begin taking live batting practice when the club returns to Anaheim next week. But it's not for the reasons one might think.
``They're not swinging so they can hit, they're swinging so they won't hurt themselves,'' manager Mike Scioscia said. ``They're swinging to get their torsos in shape. Some of these guys haven't hit since the minor leagues or college.''
Two years ago pitcher Scott Schoeneweis wound up on the disabled list because he pulled a muscle in his ribcage while batting in an interleague game.
The best-hitting pitcher on the team is Jarrod Washburn, who has a .400 (4 for 10) career average.
Second baseman Adam Kennedy got the start at second base Friday even though there was a left-hander (Eric Milton) starting for the Twins. Kennedy went into the game hitting just .226 against lefties this season, but has been swinging well lately. He had four hits in Thursday's game, including one against a lefty.
``Adam's been swinging the bat as well as he has all season,'' Scioscia said. ``We'd like to see him keep the rhythm.''
The Angels will make up their rainout from May 16 at Detroit on Aug. 5. The Angels will play Aug. 4 at home against the Yankees, travel to Detroit to play Aug. 5 against the Tigers, then travel to Chicago to begin a series against the White Sox on Aug. 6.
The Angels were also rained out in Texas on April 7. The makeup date for that game is June 24, when they will play a doubleheader.