By Joe Haakenson, AngelsWin.com Contributor -
SEPT. 3, 2002
GAME 137 - ANGELS AT DEVIL RAYS
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Angels manager Mike Scioscia sat in the dugout at Tropicana Field Tuesday afternoon and -- with a straight face -- said the Tampa Bay Devil Rays have played his Angels as tough as any team all season.
Scioscia pointed out that though the Angels were 5-1 against them, three of those wins came by one run. It was a one-run game through five innings Tuesday night when the Angels broke it open with a five-run sixth en route to a 10-2 win before an announced crowd of 10,146 fans.
With the win, the Angels moved to within 3 1/2 games of the idle Oakland A's in the American League West and increased their lead in the wild-card race to 2 1/2 games over Seattle, which also had Tuesday off.
Angels right fielder Orlando Palmeiro had two hits and a career-high four RBIs, three coming home on a bases-clearing double with two outs in the sixth. David Eckstein, Brad Fullmer and Adam Kennedy added two hits apiece in support of starting pitcher Jarrod Washburn, who improved to 16-5 but lasted only five innings.
Washburn became the first Angels pitcher to win 16 games since Chuck Finley and Mark Langston each won 16 in 1993. But Washburn had to work for this one, making 100 pitches and struggling to maintain his command.
``It's a mechanical flaw I'm going to have to figure out,'' said Washburn, who gave up two runs and six hits, walked three and struck out six. ``(Pitching coach) Buddy (Black) is real good at noticing things like that. I'll talk to him (today) and iron things out.''
Black said he did notice something with Washburn's delivery.
``I did pick up a little something; it was minor,'' Black said. ``He seemed to be a little bit rushed during his balance point. When he did that sporadically it caused some inconsistency in his pitches. He was trying to create too much velocity instead of trusting his natural, normal delivery.''
It took Washburn four starts to finally get that 16th win, and he said he was lucky to get it Tuesday.
``Any time we can pull out a win when I'm that bad, it's a positive,'' he said. ``The bullpen should get that win.''
Or the offense.
Palmeiro's playing time will decrease dramatically once Tim Salmon returns, which could happen in the next couple days. Since Salmon was injured on Aug. 10, Palmeiro has hit .328 (19 for 58) with 13 RBIs, often batting in Salmon's No. 3 spot.
``I know where I fit on this team,'' Palmeiro said. ``(Salmon's) a big-time player and I'm not. My job is to do the little things to keep the team moving and not try to overdo. If I try to fill his shoes, I'm in trouble.''
The Angels broke a 0-0 tie with three runs in the third inning off Devil Rays starter Jorge Sosa (1-7), getting consecutive hits by Eckstein (single), Darin Erstad (single), Palmeiro (single) and Garret Anderson (double) with two outs.
Anderson's double was his 50th of the season, becoming the ninth player in the American League since 1980 to do so. No player has reached 60 doubles in a season since two players (Charlie Gehringer, 60, and Joe Medwick, 64) did it in 1936.
The Devil Rays scored single runs off Washburn in the third and fourth innings before the Angels put the game out of reach in the sixth.
Troy Glaus and Scott Spiezio began the inning with walks, followed by consecutive singles from Fullmer, Bengie Molina and Kennedy. Two outs later, Palmeiro cleared the bases with an opposite-field double over Damian Rolls' outstretched glove in left field.
``Anybody in the role I do, this is how you want to perform when you're needed,'' Palmeiro said. ``When somebody's out for a while, hopefully you do enough for the team not to slow down and lose momentum.''
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – When the Angels signed pitcher Aaron Sele to a three-year, $24 million contract last December, they counted on him to help show the younger pitchers the way during a pennant race. But Sele hasn't pitched since Aug. 20 and it's possible he won't pitch for them again this season.
Sele is eligible to come off the disabled list on Thursday, but that's not going to happen. Out with a partially torn muscle in right (pitching) shoulder, Sele played long toss on Tuesday but there are no immediate plans for him to begin throwing off the mound.
Even when he does begin throwing off the mound, he would need time to build up enough arm strength to go six or seven innings. If the Angels make the playoffs they wouldn't need more than four starters, which likely would leave Sele out altogether.
Sele, though, isn't counting himself out for this season just yet.
``I don't need a full tank of gas to finish the season,'' he said. ``I don't want to do any more damage, but I can pitch on a half tank. At the same time, I have to be smart about it because I don't want to do something that's going to affect next year.''
Mickey Callaway was called up from Triple-A Salt Lake and has done well in Sele's place, going 1-0 with a 3.00 ERA in two starts. Sele is 8-9 with a 4.91 ERA and probably has been affected by the shoulder problem to varying degrees all season.
``There's still a lot of steps he has to take before you consider him even close enough to pitching in a game,'' manager Mike Scioscia said. ``We're not going to push him because the back end of the season is there. He's going at his own pace.
``If he feels OK but his velocity and arm speed are not where it should be, then he's not ready to pitch. We've got to get him back to not just pain-free, but able to make pitches.''
Right fielder Tim Salmon (bone bruise in left hand) batted in a simulated game and took live batting practice Tuesday without pain and probably will return to the lineup either Thursday or Friday.
Salmon said he feels no pain in his hand, which was hit by a pitch in Toronto on Aug. 10. Now, it's simply a matter of grip strength and feeling comfortable at the plate.
``It's like in spring, when you're trying to get your timing and rhythm,'' Salmon said. ``It would be nice to have another day of swinging. It's down to more their (coaches') decision than mine, how they see the ball coming off my bat and my reaction. But the big thing is I can let it go without pain.''
Salmon had been the Angels' hottest hitter since the All-Star break and is hitting .297 with 18 homers and 76 RBIs overall. But Salmon won't hit in his normal No. 3 spot in the order when he comes back initially, allowing him to get some at-bats to get comfortable.
The Angels will alter their pitching rotation down the stretch to get the best matchups, particularly for games against the A's and Mariners.
For now, because of Monday's off-day, the Angels are able to push Callaway back in the rotation and move Ramon Ortiz up to Thursday. Ortiz is coming off his first career shutout last Saturday vs. the Orioles.
Reliever Dennis Cook (partially torn labrum in left shoulder) threw a simulated game Tuesday. Scioscia said he'd prefer Cook's first appearance be in a blowout. ... The Angels claimed outfielder Barry Wesson off waivers from the Houston Astros. Wesson hit .200 (4 for 20) with one RBI in 15 games for the Astros and .293 with 11 homers and 61 RBIs for Triple-A New Orleans. He's been assigned to Salt Lake.