By Joe Haakenson, AngelsWin.com Contributor -
APRIL 24, 2002
GAME 21 - ANGELS AT MARINERS
SEATTLE -- It's difficult to determine which was a bigger surprise Wednesday night. Was it a loss by the Seattle Mariners, only the second in their past 16 games? Or was it Orlando Palmeiro, with six home runs in 11-plus professional seasons, batting third for the Angels?
The two were related, as Palmeiro had three hits in helping the Angels salvage one victory in the three-game series with the Mariners, a 10-6 win before 37,212 at Safeco Field.
Angels starter Jarrod Washburn (2-2), who gave up three runs and six hits in 6 2/3 innings, won both of his starts on the road trip, the only games the Angels won in their seven games against the A's and Mariners.
The Angels had a season-high 16 hits, including four by Bengie Molina and three each by Garret Anderson and Troy Glaus. It was the Angels' first win in seven games against the Mariners this season.
The Angels got another welcomed sight -- a home run by Tim Salmon, his first of the season and first in 32 games and 114 at-bats going back to last Sept. 21.
Salmon began the season as the club's No. 3 hitter, but has been dropped in the order in favor of Glaus, Anderson or Brad Fullmer. It was Palmeiro's turn to hit third on Wednesday.
Palmeiro didn't quite know how to react when reporters informed him of his place in the lineup: ''I just show up to play. If that's where (manager Mike Scioscia) put me, that's where I hit.''
Palmeiro has been hitting lately, which is why Scioscia put him there. With his three hits Wednesday, Palmeiro has eight hits in his past 17 at-bats. He's been getting a chance to play as center fielder Darin Erstad recovers from a concussion.
''We're trying to set the table for Garret and the guys in the middle of the lineup,'' Scioscia said before the game. ''Adam Kennedy (who batted second) and O.P. are swinging the best. We're trying to get a little more offense going early in the game.''
That's exactly what happened Wednesday as the Angels scored five runs in the first inning, their biggest inning of the season, off Mariners starter Paul Abbott (1-2).
With one out, Kennedy got the rally started with a walk and Palmeiro singled. Anderson singled home one run and Glaus doubled home another. After Salmon walked to load the bases, Scott Spiezio came up with the big hit, a three-run double that made it 5-0.
''We have so many guys who aren't swinging the bats well, to find the right recipe is difficult,'' Scioscia said. ''It's like trying to make bread without yeast and water.''
Meanwhile, Washburn seemed to benefit from the early offense. He allowed only one hit through four innings before facing the Mariners' first scoring threat in the fifth. An error by Glaus at third and a walk preceded a two-out single by Ichiro Suzuki that loaded the bases. But Washburn got out of it when Jeff Cirillo flied out.
The Mariners got on the scoreboard in the sixth inning on John Olerud's two-out, RBI double, but Washburn halted the rally there.
Even after the Angels took the early lead, they continued to put pressure on the Mariners pitchers. Spiezio walked and scored on Bengiel Molina's two-out double in the third. Palmeiro singled and scored on Anderson's two-out double in the sixth. And Salmon led off the seventh with his home run, giving the Angels an 8-1 lead.
The Mariners crept back in it in the seventh, knocking Washburn out of the game and benifitting from some shoddy defense. With runners on second and third and two out, Bret Boone lined what should have been a single to right field. But right fielder Jeff DaVanon tried to make a sliding catch, allowing the ball to get past him for a two-run triple.
Boone then scored when Ruben Sierra's grounder went through Kennedy's legs at second, cutting the Angels' lead to 8-4.
After the Angels scored twice in the top of the eighth, the Mariners got two off struggling reliever Al Levine, cutting the Angels' lead to 10-6. Troy Percival pitched the ninth but was not credited with a save.
SEATTLE -- Going into Wednesday's game against the Mariners the Angels were 6-14, their worst record through 20 games in franchise history. But unlike 1999, when the players revolted against then-manager Terry Collins, the current Angels are standing behind manager Mike Scioscia.
''I don't think he deserves any of the blame,'' first baseman Scott Spiezio said. ''He's not out there playing. It's not like players are clashing with him. He gets along with all the players and coaches. There's no hostility between him and the players.''
Scioscia signed an extension last season that puts him under contract through 2005, with a club option for 2006. General manager Bill Stoneman has said he is not considering making a managerial move.
Through all the team's frustration, Scioscia has been as upbeat as anyone and the players have noticed.
''He's been very positive and supportive,'' Spiezio said. ''He does nothing but tell us how he believes in us. As a player he went through tough times just like anybody, so he knows how to get out of it. The fault right now is on the players.''
Said left fielder Garret Anderson: ''He's prepared us every day since spring training. We have work to do every day and he makes sure we get it done. Every time we're out on the field, he's all business. It's always been that way with him.''
Scioscia seemed surprised about questions involving his job status, but said he recognizes that it's the nature of the business.
''I'm ultimately accountable,'' he said. ''That's the way baseball is, the manager is accountable. But I haven't even thought about that scenario. And it absolutely won't change what I do on a day-to-day basis.''
Center fielder Darin Erstad was examined Wednesday by Dr. Craig Milhouse, who cleared Erstad to begin riding a stationary bicycle. The best-case scenario for Erstad's return is Sunday, but it's more likely he'll return Tuesday in Cleveland.
If Erstad isn't ready by Tuesday, the club will put him on the disabled list. He'd be eligible to come off on Sunday, May 5. Among those who might replace Erstad on the roster if he went to the DL is Wil Cordero, who was designated for assignment on Monday by the Indians.
Pitcher Ramon Ortiz's complete-game against the Mariners Tuesday night resulted in a 1-0 loss, but the performance didn't go unnoticed by the Mariners.
''Outside of Pedro (Martinez), he had the best stuff I've seen in years,'' said Mariners second baseman Bret Boone. ''The guy was filthy.''
Ortiz was the No. 5 starter coming out of spring training, but he's the only starter to pitch at least six innings in all of his starts and holds the best ERA among the starters at 2.96.
DH Brad Fullmer was not in the lineup Wednesday so that he could rest, both mentally and physically. Fullmer is hitting .183 with no homers and two RBIs. His mechanics are slightly off, Scioscia said, but it's more of a mental thing with Fullmer now.
''I think he works hard almost to a fault,'' Scioscia said. ''Maybe he needs to work a little smarter on things instead of pounding so much in batting practice.''