By Joe Haakenson, AngelsWin.com Contributor -
OCT. 4, 2002
ALDS GAME 3
YANKEES AT ANGELS
ANAHEIM -- In New York, they like to call the Angels ``scrappy,'' ``gritty'' or ``plunky.'' One more loss in the American League Division Series, and their beloved New York Yankees will call it a season.
The Angels rallied from an early 6-1 deficit to post a dramatic 9-6 win before a sellout crowd of 45,072 at Edison Field, taking a two-games-to-one lead in the best-of-five series with a chance to eliminate the Yankees Oct. 5.
Darin Erstad ripped a one-out double to right field in the eighth inning off Yankees reliever Mike Stanton to score Adam Kennedy from second base for what turned out to be the winning run. Steve Karsay replaced Stanton and Tim Salmon hit his first pitch for a two-run homer that whipped the largest crowd in Edison Field history into a frenzy.
The Angels offense did what it did in the first two games of the series by putting constant and unrelenting pressure on the opposing pitcher. They had runners on base in every inning but the first and scored in every inning but the first and fifth.
Kennedy led the offense with three hits, including a homer and a sacrifice fly. Erstad, Salmon and Brad Fullmer had two hits apiece.
But the comeback would not have been possible without the work of the bullpen, which included starter-turned-reliever John Lackey. Lackey replaced rattled starter Ramon Ortiz, and teamed up with Scott Schoeneweis, Frankie Rodriguez and Troy Percival to hold the Yankees to one hit over the final six innings.
Lackey threw three scoreless inning and Rodriguez was perfect in his two innings, setting up the ninth for Percival, who retired Alfonso Soriano, Derek Jeter and Jason Giambi to close it out.
``The story tonight was our bullpen, flat out,'' Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. ``You can talk about the offense and the comeback and the hits all you want, but it doesn't mean anything without John Lackey and Frankie Rodriguez. If those guys don't put up zeroes, it's a different game.''
Ortiz, who appeared nervous in a press conference in New York earlier in the week, was rattled from the start on Friday. He was through after 2 2/3 innings, having allowed all six Yankees runs, giving up three hits and walking four, all four of which scored.
Down 6-1, the Angels started chipping away at the lead, scoring two in the third in Salmon's two-run double off Yankees starter Mike Mussina. Kennedy hit a solo homer in the fourth and had a sacrifice fly in the sixth and the Angels were down just 6-5.
In the seventh, Garret Anderson doubled with one out and was still on second with two outs when Spiezio muscled a pitch from Stanton just over the outstretched glove of the second baseman Soriano to drive in Anderson and tie the game at 6.
``You just keep playing offense when you get down like that,'' said Angels shortstop David Eckstein, who didn't have a hit but was hit by a pitch and had a sacrifice bunt. ``In the dugout we were saying, `Let's just score one run and inning.' That was our goal. We approached the game offensively like we have all year.''
Despite the big deficit, Scioscia stuck with the club's aggressive approach of hitting-and-running and bunting runners over.
``We weren't going to sit back,'' Scioscia said. ``We've played an aggressive style all year. Our club has to stay aggressive and we did.''
The winning rally in the eighth started with Kennedy's leadoff double. After Eckstein bunted him to third, Erstad fell behind in the count 1-2 before hitting one down the right-field line to score Kennedy. Salmon followed with his homer to give Percival some breathing room for the ninth.
``Erstad did the hard part, he got the winning run across the plate,'' Salmon said. ``I don't know how to put this into words. This is what Anaheim fans have been waiting for for a long time. And me. It's just awesome.''
As high as the Angels were after Friday's game, they tried to remind themselves they haven't won anything yet. The Yankees rallied from an 0-2 deficit to Oakland last season to win the series.
``We've had a lot of emotional wins this year and come back the next day just as focused,'' Eckstein said. ``We know we haven't accomplished anything yet. That hunger makes us just as focused.''
ANAHEIM -- The Angels have had mixed results this season against Yankees starting pitcher David Wells, who they will face in Game 4 with a chance to close out the series. They scored five runs off him while knocking him out after two innings in a start Aug. 4 in Anaheim, but he held them to two run in 7 2/3 innings in a start at Yankee Stadium on Aug. 22.
The Wells the Angels will face in Game 4, though, is a decidedly different Wells than they've faced before. Wells has gained a reputation as a big-game pitcher. In 19 career postseason games, including 10 starts, he is 8-1 with a 2.74 ERA.
``I think he likes to be challenged,'' Yankees manager Joe Torre said. ``When you tell him, `David, I think you should lose some weight.' He's going to show me he can pitch at that weight.
``He dares people. I think that's evidenced by the fact that he throws so many strikes. He dares you to hit him. I think that's important. He doesn't try to play around with picking corners. He goes after you and throws strike-one.''
Said Wells: ``I'm not afraid to fail. That's my philosophy going in. If you're not afraid to fail, then what do you have to lose going in?''
Wells nearly signed with the Arizona Diamondbacks during the offseason before having lunch with Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, who didn't have to do much to pull him away from the Arizona desert.
``We sat there, talked about family, about this and that, just nothing related to baseball,'' Wells said. ``Then he just dropped (a contract offer) on me. I was in shock. But it was a great feeling knowing that that's the place where I wanted to play.''
It was no secret the Angels planned to start Jarrod Washburn in Game 4, despite Angels manager Mike Scioscia's refusal to commit publicly. However, when John Lackey replaced starter Ramon Ortiz in the third inning Friday night, it removed all doubt.
``We've got our work cut out for us,'' Washburn said. ``They're not going to quit. They were down 2-0 last year (to Oakland) and they came back and won. We can't relax.''
Washburn said his fastball lacked its usual ``life'' after the Game 1 loss, and he believes he knows why.
``The only thing I can think of is the nine days off (between starts),'' Washburn said. ``I don't foresee that happening again.''
Lackey was Scioscia's only other option for either Game 4 or 5. If there is a Game 5, Kevin Appier will start on three-days' rest.
Angels reliever Ben Weber, closer Troy Percival's top set-up man, was not available for Friday's game because of the bruised index finger on his right (pitching) hand. Weber hurt the finger trying to barehand a chopper hit back to the mound by the Yankees Raul Mondesi in Game 2 at Yankee Stadium.
Weber is expected to be available for Game 4.
When Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter singled in the first inning, it marked the 63rd time in 81 career postseason games he's had at least one hit. He's reached base safely in 72 of those games.
It was also Jeter's 99th career postseason hit, the most in major-league history.
Former Angels Bobby Grich and Brian Downing threw out the ceremonial first pitches before Game 3, flanked by fellow former Angels representing teams from the 1979, '82 and '86 American League West champions.
Dave Frost and Don Baylor represented the '79 team; Doug DeCinces, Fred Lynn, Ken Forsch and Bob Boone represented the '82 team and Mike Witt Gary Pettis, Kirk McCaskill and Wally Joyner represented the '86 team.
Former Angels shortstop Gary DiSarcina will throw out the ceremonial first pitch for Game 4.