By Joe Haakenson, AngelsWin.com Contributor -
JUNE 1, 2002
GAME 52 - ANGELS AT TWINS
MINNEAPOLIS -- Technically, the difference in the Angels' 4-2 loss to the Minnesota Twins Saturday night at the Metrodome was Cristian Guzman's two-run homer off Angels starter Kevin Appier in seventh inning.
In reality, the difference came on the pitch immediately before that one.
With the game tied at 1, the Twins had A.J. Pierzynski on third with two out when Jacques Jones bunted. The spin on the ball made it take a bounce away from Appier and toward the first-base line, allowing Jones to beat it out.
Appier, though, gloved the ball after it bounced again, preventing it from possibly rolling foul. After the game, Appier and catcher Bengie Molina disagreed on the course of the ball.
``It was coming toward me and it either spun or it hit something on the turf,'' said Appier, who gave up four runs and nine hits in 6 2/3 innings. ``It was spinning away from me but when it hit the next time it didn't go anywhere. And I think Bengie would have said something if it was going foul.''
Molina said he did say something.
``I was yelling `Let it go,' '' Molina said. ``It was going foul, no doubt about it. I've got a better view than him. That was a crazy play. Crazy.''
Nobody was blaming Appier for the loss, however.
``Ape just reacted to it,'' Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. ``I thought it might be rolling foul, but I'm sure Ape's thinking he has to make a play. If you don't think you have a play, you have to let it go. If he had another shot I'm sure he'd like to see if it rolls foul.''
What compounded Appier's frustration was that he said he threw one of his better games of the season. Through five innings, he shut out the Twins on four hits. In the sixth, he walked Corey Koskie with two outs and Torii Hunter followed with a double just under third baseman Troy Glaus' glove and down the left-field line to score Koskie and tie the game at 1.
``It was definitely one of my best-pitched bad games,'' Appier (5-3) said. ``All my stuff was working.''
Even the homer by Guzman was a good pitch, he said, a slider down and in that Guzman went down and got.
``It was a pretty dang good pitch,'' Appier said. ``He missed a few of those tonight. It didn't seem like he'd be waiting for it.''
The Angels had taken a 1-0 lead off Twins starter Kyle Lohse (5-3) in the second inning on back-to-back doubles by Garret Anderson and Brad Fullmer. They missed a chance for more in the inning because Fullmer was thrown out trying to go to third when a pitch got away from the catcher Pierzynski, making the first out of the inning.
Tim Salmon followed with a double but was stranded.
The Angels went 2 for 10 with runners in scoring position in the game and missed several scoring chances, including the ninth inning when they nearly rallied against Twins closer Eddie Guardado.
Down 4-1 entering the ninth, the Angels cut the deficit to 4-2 when Salmon led off with a home run, his third hit of the night. Scott Spiezio doubled and went to third on a single by Molina. But the rally ended quickly when Bengie Gil struck out and Adam Kennedy grounded into a double play.
``We had a lot of opportunities early,'' Scioscia said. ``(Lohse) kept making pitches, getting out of jams.''
MINNEAPOLIS -- Center fielder Darin Erstad has already missed a week this season because of a concussion, so it was not a comforting sight for the Angels seeing him lying face down on Metrodome turf at the end of the fourth inning Saturday.
Erstad got the worst end of a collision with shortstop Benji Gil on a blooper to shallow center hit by the Twins' Bobby Kielty . Gil made the catch, but in the process kicked Erstad in the face and spiked him on the arm.
After a few minutes on the ground, Erstad returned to the dugout under his own power and was checked by medical personnel and remained in the game. When he batted in the top of the fifth, he had to step out of the batter's box a couple of times to wipe away the blood that was dripping down his face.
Erstad has cuts over his left eye, the bridge of his nose and on upper right arm. ``I got my bell rung a little bit,'' Erstad said.
Part of the reason for the collision had to do with the trouble the Angels have had picking up the ball in the Metrodome roof. Gil lost a ball on Friday and left fielder Garret Anderson lost one Saturday. Gil lost another one Saturday but second baseman Adam Kennedy made an acrobatic catch to save him.
``Everybody's going for the ball because nobody knows who can see it,'' Erstad said of collision. ``I didn't see it until the last second. I couldn't see it so I couldn't call it. I guess we ran into each other.''
Gil said he called for the ball but assumed Erstad couldn't hear him.
``I've had trouble seeing the ball so I just wasn't going to give up on the ball,'' Gil said. ``That one I could actually see. If you take your eye off it it's really hard to pick it back up.''
First baseman/DH Shawn Wooten, playing on a rehab assignment for Triple-A Salt Lake, suffered a setback on Friday when he strained a muscle in his side when swinging the bat.
Wooten was evaluated Saturday but there is no timetable on when he'll be able to resume playing.
Wooten has not played in a major league game since he tore a ligament in his thumb during a spring training game on March 13, resulting in surgery. He is hitting .294 (5 for 17) in four games for Salt Lake.
David Eckstein did not play shortstop Saturday for the 10th consecutive game since spraining his left knee May 20 sliding feet-first into first base. Eckstein can hit and run fine but is still not quite able to move laterally on defense the way he needs to.
It hasn't helped his situation that the club is playing a four-game series on turf in the Metrodome. There's a chance he'll start at shortstop today, but it's more likely manager Mike Scioscia will give Eckstein one more day and start in Monday when the club returns to Anaheim.