By Joe Haakenson, AngelsWin.com Contributor -
AUG. 25, 2002
GAME 129 - ANGELS AT RED SOX
BOSTON -- Before Friday, neither Chone Figgins nor Mickey Callaway spent one minute in a major league uniform this season. But by late Sunday afternoon, they were the reasons the Angels had their music playing loudly in the cramped visitors clubhouse in the bowels of ancient Fenway Park.
Callaway matched Cy Young award candidate Derek Lowe pitch-for-pitch for six innings and Figgins burned up the basepaths in the ninth inning to lift the Angels to an 8-3 win over the Boston Red Sox before a sellout crowd of 32,059.
The win kept the Angels in a tie with the Seattle Mariners for the American League wild-card lead and two games behind the Oakland A's in the A.L. West. The Red Sox fell 3 1/2 games behind the Angels and Mariners.
Before this weekend, Callaway and Figgins spent all season playing for the Stingers, the Angels' Triple-A affiliate in Salt Lake. But injuries to pitcher Aaron Sele and right fielder Tim Salmon necessitated the call for help.
Callaway (1-0) started in Sele's place and gave up only three runs (two earned) in six innings before handing the ball to the bullpen. Brendan Donnelly (one inning) and Scott Schoeneweis (two innings) combined to retire all nine Red Sox batters in the final three innings.
Figgins' contribution didn't come until the ninth inning, when he was summoned to pinch run for Scott Spiezio after Spiezio's leadoff single in a 3-3 game. One out later, Figgins, who led the Pacific Coast League with 39 stolen bases, was on his way to second on a 2-1 pitch to pinch hitter Shawn Wooten.
Wooten grounded a run-and-hit single to left field, but Figgins slowed into second because he couldn't find the ball. When he did spot the ball, he broke for third and beat left fielder Cliff Floyd's throw with a head-first slide.
``I was just making sure it wasn't a pop fly or line drive so I had to freeze a little bit to make sure I didn't get doubled off,'' Figgins said. ``And then I picked up the third-base coach (Ron Roenicke), I saw the ball on the ground so I was just thinking be aggressive and keep going.''
Angels manager Mike Scioscia called for a squeeze bunt on the very next pitch. David Eckstein got the ball down and Figgins beat Lowe's throw home to give the Angels a 4-3 lead.
``I just made sure I didn't leave too early,'' Figgins said. ``If I leave too early he could pitch out. Having speed changes a lot of things and I just wanted to make sure he went to the plate, then I broke. Eckstein's an excellent bunter. If he gets it down, I knew we would score.''
Said Eckstein: ``I didn't have to put down the most perfect bunt because he flies.''
Watching Figgins run was nothing new to Callaway.
``He's been doing that stuff all year, game-in, game-out,'' Callaway said. ``Speed kills.''
The Angels weren't through in the ninth, getting to the Red Sox bullpen after Lowe (17-6) was replaced. Alex Ochoa delievered a two-run, pinch single and Benji Gil had a two-run pinch triple to give the Angels a cushion and save closer Troy Percival for another day.
Many Angels players credited the organization for having the depth to bring up players like Callaway and Figgins, but Callaway struggled to get through the early innings. After the Angels scored once in the top of the first, the Red Sox scored on Shea Hillenbrand's RBI single and still had the bases loaded with only one out.
But Callaway got Brian Daubach to hit into a double play to escape.
``That was big,'' Callaway said. ``That was big for me personally just to settle down. I was trying to get a groundball the whole inning and it finally went to somebody.''
Callaway settled in and pitched the rest of the way much like he did at Salt Lake, where he was 9-2 with a 1.68 ERA this season.
``He was everything he was billed, he didn't try to do anything that he didn't do at Triple-A,'' Scioscia said. ``He didn't get rattled. There were a couple situations when he really needed to execute his pitches and he did.''
BOSTON -- Some might argue that pitching for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays isn't really major league experience, but Mickey Callaway's seven games with them played a big role in helping him through Sunday's game against the Red Sox.
Callaway gave up three runs (two earned) and seven hits in six innings before a sellout crowd and a playoff atmosphere at Fenway Park. He didn't get the win, but he kept the Angels close before they scored five in the ninth to win it, 8-3.
``It's a lot different when you first get here,'' said Callaway, who pitched in five games for the Devil Rays in 1999 and two games last season. ``It helped just because you know what to expect.''
Knowing what to expect and facing Nomar Garciaparra and Manny Ramirez are two different things, though, and Callaway admitted as much.
``(Saturday) night I was up quite a while thinking about the hitters,'' he said. ``My heart was beating fast. I was in bed about 10 p.m. and the last time I looked at the clock it was 2:30 a.m.''
Angels manager Mike Scioscia said Callaway's composure was ``nothing different than what we saw in spring training and at Salt Lake. He wasn't trying to do anything super-human, just execute his pitches.''
Callaway, 27, said that even his experience in the minors helped. He developed a good changeup and a split-finger the last couple of years, working with former Angels coach Joe Coleman and current Triple-A Salt Lake pitching coach Mike Butcher.
Callaway was 9-2 with a 1.68 ERA at Salt Lake, but he missed two months of this season because of a protruding disk is his lower back. He pitched well since returning July 28 and took Aaron Sele's spot in the rotation after Sele went on the disabled list with a partially torn muscle in his right shoulder.
Callaway, who came to the Angels in a trade with the Devil Rays for minor league shortstop Wilmy Caceres last December, earned at least one more start, which will be Friday against Baltimore in Anaheim.
Sele said last week he was optimistic he could return to the mound by Sept. 5, the date he is eligible to come off the disabled list. But Sele's contract runs through 2004 and pays him $24 million, including $16.5 million after this season, so the Angels will not rush him back.
``You don't want to jeopardize (the next two years) or a guy's career,'' Scioscia said. ``If there's any question about his health, we will err on the side of caution.''
The Angels have only two off-days remaining the rest of the season, so they won't go to a four-man rotation.
Scott Spiezio isn't the slowest guy in the world, but he wasn't surprised when Chone Figgins pinch ran for him after Spiezio led off the ninth inning with a single.
``That's a good move, things were stagnant,'' Spiezio said. ``We got a guy on, and nothing against my speed, but Figgins might have me by a step.''
Spiezio was asked if he was insulted by seeing a pinch runner come in for him.
``I wasn't insulted ... but if (Shawn) Wooten ran for me, I'd be insulted,'' he joked.
Scioscia sent up three pinch hitters in the Angels' five-run ninth inning and all three had hits. Wooten singled, moving Figgins from first to third. Alex Ochoa singled home two runs and Benji Gil tripled home two runs.
With the three pinch hits, Angels pinch hitters are batting .287 (27 for 94) with two homers and 17 RBIs.