By Joe Haakenson, AngelsWin.com Contributor -
APRIL 23, 2002
GAME 20 - ANGELS AT MARINERS
SEATTLE -- Angels manager Mike Scioscia says he believes the first 20 games his team has played are the exception, not the rule. The track records of his players, he says, reflect different numbers than the ones they have put up so far this season.
But after Tuesday's 1-0 loss to the Seattle Mariners before 32,127 at Safeco Field, the only numbers that count are in the win-loss column, where the Angels are 6-14. It is the worst start through 20 games in franchise history.
After a 3-2 start, the Angels have lost 12 of 15, including all six to the Mariners. The Mariners now lead the Angels by 10 1/2 games in the American League West and have beaten them in 21 of their past 25 meetings going back to last season.
''I played on a team in '95 that was phenomenal all year long,'' Angels closer Troy Percival said. ''Then all of a sudden, we couldn't win. The same thing can happen in reverse. We just have to get it started and get some momentum. This team has the talent to do it.''
And in the meantime?
''Keep playing hard, keep pitching hard, there's nothing else you can do,'' he said. ''Each time you hit or each time you pitch, try to do your job.''
The Mariners continue to do their job. At 17-4, they have the best record in baseball and have the same record as they did at this time last season, on their way to a record-tying 116 wins.
After bombing the Angels with offense Monday night in a 16-5 win, the Mariners beat them with pitching on Tuesday.
But it wasn't Freddy Garcia or Jamie Moyer, the usual Angel-killers, on Tuesday. This time it was Ryan Franklin, who was making the first start of his major league career. Franklin threw 5 2/3 scoreless innings before getting help from his bullpen.
Joel Pineiro got out of a couple tight situations but pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings, setting up for Arthur Rhodes (perfect eighth) and Kazuhiro Sasaki (scoreless ninth, sixth save).
The Angels also got good pitching from starter Ramon Ortiz. Ortiz, the only Angels pitcher to pitch at least six innings in every start this season, went eight innings, allowing one run and five hits.
Ortiz struck out eight and walked only one, and was still throwing well late in the game, hitting 94 mph on the radar gun in the eighth inning. It was the first complete game by an Angels pitcher this season.
Ortiz's biggest problem, though, came not on the mound, but when he stood in front of the Angels dugout, backing up a throw.
Mark McLemore, who hammered his former team with a grand slam and five RBIs on Monday, tripled to left-center with one out in the fifth inning. Shortstop David Eckstein's relay throw to third baseman Troy Glaus was in the dirt and got past him, Eckstein being charged with the error.
Ortiz was properly positioned on the play, backing up the throw. But the ball bounced between his legs, off the protective screen in front of the Angels dugout and rolled away. Ortiz retrieved the ball but his throw home was too late to get McLemore.
''You want to throw the ball only when you have a play,'' Scioscia said of Eckstein's relay. ''The third baseman has to knock that ball down. And when you are backing up that play, it's a ball you have to stop. Three breakdowns on one play.''
Scioscia, though, said his team isn't waiting to catch a break.
''If you're looking for breaks to win ballgames, you're in trouble,'' he said. ''If you're playing consistent baseball, one break good or bad is not going to make a difference.''
One unearned run was all the Mariners needed on this night, though the Angels did have their chances.
Garret Anderson struck out with the bases loaded and two out to end the sixth, and Bengie Molina grounded into an inning-ending double play with two on and one out in the seventh.
The Angels' final chance came in the ninth after Glaus led off with a double. After Anderson lined out to first, Tim Salmon struck out. Glaus went to third on a wild pitch, and had a chance to score on another pitch that was in the dirt and got away from catcher Dan Wilson.
Instead, Glaus stayed put and Brad Fullmer eventually struck out to end it. It was the second time the Angels have been shut out this season, the first time on opening night when Cleveland's Bartolo Colon did it.
SEATTLE -- The Angels have considered the possibility of signing outfielder Wil Cordero, who was designated for assignment on Monday by the Indians. The Indians have until May 2 to trade, release or outright Cordero to the minor leagues, with a release being the most likely.
With Darin Erstad's (mild concussion) status uncertain and Shawn Wooten still at least six weeks away from returning, the Angels are considering their options for a bat that could help, particularly one that's right handed. Wooten was supposed to be that bat, but he dislocated his thumb during spring training and is recovering from surgery.
The Angels have started to hit -- going into Tuesday's game against Seattle, they had scored 26 runs in four games -- but would need help if Erstad goes to the disabled list. And their options in the minor leagues are limited.
''He could be a right-handed bat, but we're talking about a lot of names,'' manager Mike Scioscia said. ''We're not going to narrow it to one guy. We're always looking to improve the club.''
Cordero, 30, played in six games with the Indians this season, batting .222 (4 for 18) with no homers and one RBI. Last season with Cleveland, he played in 89 games, batting .250 with four homers and 21 RBIs. He's a .276 career hitter who can play both the outfield and infield.
Scioscia said reliever Donne Wall's status with the club is safe for now. Wall gave up six runs without retiring a batter in Monday's game and holds a 12.54 ERA in seven games. Wall, who had shoulder troubles last year, is healthy, but he's having trouble with command of his pitches.
At Triple-A Salt Lake, the Angels have Brendan Donnelly, Matt Wise, Scot Shields, Bart Miadich and Mickey Callaway among those who could replace the 34-year-old Wall. But not now.
''The bottom line is production, but we still have to give things enough time to get sorted out,'' Scioscia said. ''We're not going to panic. I know Bill (Stoneman, general manager) won't hesitate to make moves, but we're not even talking about it. I don't think there's a sense of urgency. The only sense of urgency is to get the team to play to its potential, but we're not going to start ejecting pieces.''
Erstad was examined Tuesday by neuropsychologist Betsy Parker, who noted a decrease in symptoms from previous examinations, but Erstad still exhibits mild post-concussion sydrome. Erstad will be examined by the Angels' Dr. Craig Milhouse today.
''We should know by Friday which way we're going to go with him,'' Scioscia said.
Erstad sustained a mild concussion Friday in Oakland when he hit his chin on the turf diving for a fly ball. He spent the night in the hospital and underwent a CT scan, X-rays and an MRI on his head and neck, which came back normal.
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