By Joe Haakenson, AngelsWin.com Contributor -
OCT. 25, 2002
WORLD SERIES GAME 6
GIANTS AT ANGELS
WORLD SERIES GAME 6
GIANTS AT ANGELS
ANAHEIM -- Their pulse faint, their offense lifeless, the Angels were eight outs away from a long winter's nap.
But these Angels have a certain way about them, having an ability to come back when all seems lost. Saturday night in Game 6 of the World Series, they put together their most incredible rally yet, a 6-5 victory over the San Francisco Giants before 44,506 at Edison Field to to tie the series at three games each and force a deciding Game 7.
It was the biggest comeback in an elimination game in World Series history, and almost certainly one of the most exciting World Series games ever.
``I can go back to the Kirk Gibson game in '88,'' Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. ``I think there was about as much electricity in that stadium as there ever was. I think tonight surpassed that.''
There wasn't much of a flicker of light as the Angels headed into the bottom of the seventh inning, trailing 5-0. Garret Anderson led off the inning and grounded out.
But consecutive singles by Troy Glaus and Brad Fullmer not only gave the Angels some life, but it knocked Giants starter Russ Ortiz, who had pitched so well for six innings, out of the game.
Giants reliever Felix Rodriguez, who gave up Tim Salmon's game-winning homer in Game 2, got ahead in the count against Scott Spiezio. But Spiezio fouled off several pitches before working the count full.
Then on a 95-mph fastball, Spiezio golfed one into the right-field seats near the foul pole for a three-run homer, stirring the crowd into a frenzy and cutting the Giants lead to 5-3.
``I didn't know it was gone when I hit it,'' said Spiezio, who has tied a single postseason record with 19 RBIs. ``I was praying. I was saying, God, please just get over the fence. It seemed like it took forever.’’
In the eighth inning, Darin Erstad led off with a home run off Tim Worrell. Salmon singled, Anderson singled and when Barry Bonds bobbled the Anderson's ball in left field for an error, pinch runner Chone Figgins was on third and Anderson on second.
Giants manager Dusty Baker went to closer Robb Nen, but Glaus ripped a slider into the left-center field gap to score both baserunners for a 6-5 Angels lead. Troy Percival pitched a 1-2-3 ninth to end it.
``I've said it a million times before and I'll say it again,'' Erstad said. ``If we're going to go down, we're going to go down fighting.''
The Angels have come from behind 51 times this season, 43 times in the regular season and now in eight of their 10 postseason wins. Angels hitting coach Mickey Hatcher said he can't take any of the credit.
``They get it going and the sparks start to fly,'' Hatcher said. ``Honest to God I don't know what to say. I'm the proudest hitting coach in the world right now. I just sit back and watch with amazement. They just don't quit. I saw it in New York, I saw it in Minnesota and I'm seeing it now. I'm speechless. I'm in awe.''
Though so many seem to feel the same way as Hatcher, the Angels players have come to expect such things from themselves.
``I knew this team, all it needs is a little spark,'' Spiezio said. ``You never know who's going to supply that spark. We knew we could do it. This team's amazing. Yeah, I guess it's the biggest at-bat I've had in my life and the biggest hit. Tonight was pretty amazing.''
Angels starter Kevin Appier matched Ortiz inning-for-inning through four, allowing only one hit entering the fifth inning.
Appier got the first out of the inning, but David Bell beat out a grounder that shortstop for an infield single before Shawon Dunston turned on an 87-mph fastball and hit it over the short fence down the left-field line to put the Giants up, 2-0. After Appier yielded a double to the next batter, Kenny Lofton, Scioscia came out with the hook.
Frankie Rodriguez entered the game and allowed Lofton to steal third. But with the infield in, Rodriguez got Rich Aurilia to hit a grounder to shortstop David Eckstein, who looked Lofton back to third and threw to first for the second out.
Rodriguez got ahead in the count, 0-2, to Jeff Kent, but threw a slider in the dirt that catcher Bengie Molina couldn't handle. It was ruled a wild pitch and Lofton scored easily to give the Giants a 3-0 lead.
Rodriguez retired Kent on a grounder to third to end the inning, meaning Bonds was up to start the sixth. After taking a 94-mph fastball for a strike, Bonds unloaded on a hanging slider and hit it deep into the right field seats, putting the Giants up, 4-0. It was Bonds' eighth homer this postseason, breaking the record he shared with Glaus.
The Giants tacked on another run in the seventh. With one out Lofton singled and then stole second despite a pitchout. Molina's throw was in the dirt and bounced into center field for an error, allowing Lofton to take third.
Rodriguez struck out Aurilia for the second out, but Kent singled on a 1-2 pitch to drive in Lofton and give the Giants a 5-0 lead, which, it turned out, was one run too few. And now the Angels and Giants have reached baseball's pinnacle game, Game 7.
``I've been thinking about Game seven since I was 4 years old,'' Erstad said. ``This is the ultimate. Just like in your backyard, two outs, down by three ...''
ANAHEIM -- The term ``Game 7'' is like no other in sports, and tonight, the Angels will send a rookie starting pitcher to the mound in John Lackey. But where Lackey might be lacking in experience, he makes up for it in other ways according to Angels manager Mike Scioscia.
``I think if you look at a pitcher's production, there's a sum total of things that go into it,'' Scioscia said. ``Sometimes it's experience, sometimes it's incredible talent, sometimes it's your makeup. But the bottom line is how are you throwing the ball. Are you getting outs.''
Lackey has had the best performance of any Angels starter in the postseason, holding the Twins scoreless on three hits in seven innings in Game 4 of the ALCS. Overall, Lackey is 1-0 with a 2.60 ERA in four postseason games, including two starts.
``For us to say that a guy is a rookie pitcher and not have confidence in him is missing the whole point,'' Scioscia said. ``If you look at the bottom line, there's absolutely nobody that we would have more confidence in to give the ball to. He is a rookie, but he's executing pitches, he's getting guys out and he's got the makeup.''
Facing Giants left fielder Barry Bonds has turned out to be as tough as advertised for Angels pitchers. In the six World Series games, Bonds has hit .500 (7 for 14) with four homers, six RBIs, 12 walks (seven intentional), and an on-base percentage of .731.
``I think our intentional walks, we've done those well, we've executed those well,'' Scioscia joked. ``At times we've gone after Barry. We're probably around what the average is of what teams have done to Barry during the season. We've made some good pitches. We've gotten Barry out. We haven't quite gotten pitches in some locations we're lookng for and he's hit the ball.
``This series is much more than `Hey, let's contain Barry and you're going to win the series.' It's much more than that. I think the Giants have shown that.''
In his 26 plate-appearances this World Series, Bonds reached base 19 times. Angels reliever Frankie Rodriguez had the most success against Bonds, getting him out on twice on grounders to first in two at-bats. But Saturday in Game 6, Rodriguez hung a slider and Bonds crushed it for a home run. Rodriguez struck out Bonds in the seventh inning.
``As far as pitching to Barry, just narrowing down the times we've gone after him, when we've been able to make good pitches, we've gotten him out,'' Scioscia said. ``It hasn't been very often, obviously. You make a little mistake, the margin of error of pitching to Barry is not very comfortable because he's very locked in.''
Among the many offensive records tied or broken this postseason includes two by Angels first baseman Scott Spiezio. Spiezio has hit .733 (11 for 15) with runners in scoring position in the postseason. The major league record is .688, set by Boston's Marty Barrett in 1988.
Spiezio also tied the record for RBIs in a single postseason with 19. Sandy Alomar Jr. also had 19 for the Cleveland Indians in 1997.