By Joe Haakenson, AngelsWin.com Contributor -
GAME 25 - ANGELS AT INDIANS
CLEVELAND -- Angels manager Mike Scioscia promised his club would hit, he just didn't say it would happen all in one game.
The Angels had their second-highest run total in club history in a 21-2 rout over the Cleveland Indians Tuesday night before 24,286 at Jacobs Field. The only time the Angels have scored more came on Aug. 25, 1979 when they scored 24 against the Toronto Blue Jays.
The Angels totaled 22 hits, including four by Troy Glaus and three each by Darin Erstad, Bengie Molina and Jose Nieves. Glaus homered and drove in five, Erstad hit his first homer of the season and Jeff DaVanon homered and drove in four even though he didn't enter the game until the eighth inning.
The Angels had been at or near the bottom of the league in several offensive categories until last week, when they started to hit. Since being shut out, 1-0, in Seattle on April 23, the Angels have scored 54 runs during a five-game winning streak.
Superstitious hitting coach Mickey Hatcher has been wearing his undershirt backwards during the streak, and Scioscia made it a point to make sure Hatcher had the shirt on backwards for Tuesday's game.
''Thank God it's not his underwear,'' Scioscia said.
It got so bad for the Indians that what was left of the crowd, the second smallest in Jacobs Field history, began cheering for the Angels as they approached the 20-run mark. The Angels have scored 20 runs or more four times in club history.
''It was pretty awesome,'' Molina said. ''It can be very good for us, for our confidence, that we can do it. That's a positive for us. We have to take advantage of that.''
Other Angels, though, shrugged the game off, just like they did when they were losing earlier in the season.
''It's just one game,'' left fielder Garret Anderson said. ''You can't get wrapped up in one game. Guys' personalities on this team are the same day-to-day. Guys are walking around the clubhouse the same way they were last week when we were getting our butts kicked. That's good to see. We have a lot of games to play.''
Erstad said he had not been a part of such an offensive display since college, when his Nebraska Cornhuskers beat Washington, 35-15. And yes, he said, it was baseball, not football.
He added that despite the club's early struggles, the hitters never lacked confidence.
''We're confident as a group regardless of what's going on,'' he said. ''You guys (reporters) made a big deal about it, but we believe in ourselves.''
Ten Angel batters had at least one hit, nine had at least one RBI and 11 scored at least one run. The Angels scored 10 runs in the eighth inning, the fifth largest single-inning total in club history and the most in one inning since they scored 13 on May 12, 1997 at home against the White Sox.
All that offense would explain why Angels starter Ramon Ortiz smiled from ear-to-ear after the game. In Ortiz's previous four starts this season, the Angels had scored a total of nine runs.
Not that he needed it Tuesday's showing. Ortiz (2-3) gave up one run and six hits in eight innings, lowering his ERA to 2.55. He's the only Angel starter to go at least six innings in all of his starts. In his past two starts, he's allowed one earned run in 16 innings against Mariners and Indians.
''This year is very different,'' Ortiz said. ''My mechanics are better, I have more concentration with every hitter. Before, when a guy gets a base hit, I try to do too much. Now I just focus on making a good pitch. I have very good command now.''
Indians starter C.C. Sabathia (2-3) didn't pitch all that poorly, giving up six runs (five earned) and seven hits in five innings. But the Angels offense exploded against the Indians' bullpen. Mark Wohlers was the worst of the group, giving up seven runs in two-thirds of an inning.
CLEVELAND -- Angels general manager Bill Stoneman trusted the judgement of one of his scouts in August of 2000 when the scout suggested the club claim infielder David Eckstein off waivers from the Boston Red Sox.
Eckstein in his his second season as the Angels' starting shortstop and has become a consistent major leaguer. But two grand slams in two days?
''What he did the last couple of days? No, I didn't expect that,'' Stoneman said.
''Power-hitting guys go 1 for 7 with a grand slam usually, not middle infielders.''
Especially not middle infielders who need to stand on their tip-toes to hit 5-foot-7. He became only the 21st player in major league history to hit grand slams in consecutive days. And certainly the most unlikely to do it.
Eckstein said he had never hit a grand slam in his life before Saturday's off Toronto reliever Pedro Borbon. Borbon was on the mound again Sunday for Eckstein's game-winner in the 14th inning.
''The closest I came was in the summer league,'' Eckstein said. ''There was this wire that ran over the fence and I hit the wire. They said the wire was in play, and the ball came straight down. One of our guys got thrown out at the plate because he thought it was a home run.''
Eckstein's two homers this season are as many as Tim Salmon and more than Darin Erstad, Bengie Molina, Scott Spiezio and Brad Fullmer. But he isn't about to change his game of hitting the ball on the ground and to the opposite field.
''Eck's got a good grip on what his talents are,'' manager Mike Scioscia said. ''He got under the ball a little bit and drove it. That was a great mistake.''
Said Eckstein: ''It's definitely not my game. Especially in Sunday's game, I was 0 for 6 with four flyouts (before the grand slam).''
With Benji Gil (ankle) and Shawn Wooten (thumb) still recovering from injuries, the Angels continue to look for a right-handed bat. Wil Cordero, designated for assignment by the Indians April 22, was released by the club on Monday. He has been considered but is not necessarily the Angels' focus.
''When you're talking about right-handed bats, Wil's name comes up,'' Scioscia said. ''As far as our club, a right-handed bat would be a fit. But there are other guys to consider.
''You keep your ear to the ground and hope you don't get run over by something.'' Cordero hit .222 (4 for 18) with one RBI in six games for the Indians this season.
Pitcher Matt Wise joined the club Tuesday in place of reliever Donne Wall, who was placed on the disabled list with tightness in his right arm. Wise was 0-0 with a 1.13 ERA in three starts at Triple-A Salt Lake, but had not pitched in 10 days because of a bout with food poisoning.
Wise, listed at 6-4, 197 pounds, said he lost 10 pounds during the illness. His wife Amy, seven weeks pregnant, also got food poisoning but is OK now.
''I was skinny before,'' Wise said. ''Now I'm withering away.''