Saturday, March 1, 2008

By Eric Denton, Senior Writer

In 2004, the Angels won their first division title in eighteen years. And while the championship wasn't officially clinched until the Halos played Oakland two days later, this was the game that saved their season.

With the Angels trailing Texas, 6-5, in the ninth, and Rangers closer Francisco Cordero looking to extend his club record to 49 saves, would-be American League MVP Vladimir Guerrero singled with two outs to keep the Angels hopes alive.

Up stepped seldom used veteran outfielder Curtis Pride, and the match up on paper was not favorable.

Pride, a perennial 26th man on various MLB rosters over twelve seasons is one of the best feel good stories in baseball. Born with 95 percent hearing loss, Pride showed fans, especially young ones, that if you worked hard and remained focused, you can accomplish anything — including hitting a game tying double off one of the best closers in the game and saving the season for your team.

Pride drilled a fastball from Cordero that nearly went out of the Ballpark at Arlington, scoring Guerrero from first base and sending the game into extra innings.

"It's a good feeling to be able to come in and help the team," Pride said. "It's a big win for us. It's probably the biggest hit of my career."

In the top of the 11th inning, with Cordero still on the mound, Darin Erstad singled with one out. At the conclusion of a 10-pitch at-bat, Troy Glaus got a hanging slider and crushed it deep onto the grass hitter's backdrop in center field, giving the Angels an 8-6 lead. It was the only home run Cordero allowed all season.

"I don't think you'll see a much better at-bat," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "There was a battler on the mound and a battler at the plate. He made a mistake and Troy didn't miss it."

The home run ended up being the last of Glaus' Angels career and he made it memorable.

Troy Percival notched his 32nd save of the season and the Angels went on to defeat the Oakland Athletics the next two nights to secure the 2004 AL West Championship.
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