By Joe Haakenson, AngelsWin.com Contributor --
APRIL 1, 2002 - OFF DAY
ANAHEIM -- After a good and relatively healthy spring, the Angels were excited to open the season Sunday night against the Indians. Probably too excited.
The Angels lost, 6-0, but were done in during the first inning. Though settled down after it, starting pitcher Jarrod Washburn was erratic in the opening inning, during which he gave up a leadoff walk and five singles. A miscommunication on a relay play between right fielder Tim Salmon and shortstop David Eckstein resulted in an error, also in the first inning.
After getting knocked woozy in the top of the first, the Angels simply were blown away by Indians starter Bartolo Colon after that.
''I love opening day,'' said Salmon, who went 0 for 4 with two strikeouts. ''But it seems like it amps you up too much or distracts you. You want to make it happen instead of being under control and taking nice, easy swings.''
About the error, Salmon said: ''I spin to throw to second (on a single by Omar Vizquel) and (Eckstein) is not there. Everybody's excited and we're all trying to be in the right place and make the right play. Sometimes that happens. Eck'll be there 99 percent of the time.''
Going mostly unrecognized because of the poor start was the work of the bullpen on Sunday. Washburn was done after five innings, leaving three relievers to try to keep it close.
Donne Wall, who struggled all of last season with the Mets after coming off shoulder surgery, threw two perfect innings Sunday, striking out two. Lou Pote, who had a poor spring (15.00 ERA), pitched a scoreless inning and didn't allow a hit. Lefty Mark Lukasiewicz gave up one run and three hits in the ninth.
''After the first inning we did some good things on the mound,'' Scioscia said.
APRIL 2, 2002
GAME 2 - INDIANS AT ANGELS
ANAHEIM -- Kevin Appier's first start as an Angel won't be one to tell the grandkids about years from now, but the end result was one the Angels will gladly accept.
Appier, who came to the Angels from the Mets in a trade for Mo Vaughn Dec. 27, bobbed and weaved his way through five innings in the Angels' 7-5 victory over the Cleveland Indians Tuesday night before 20,055 at Edison Field.
Appier gave up four runs (two earned) and four hits while making 106 pitches, which helped to cut short his first night in Angel red. The win, though, was more a result of the bullpen and the offense, which scored five runs with two outs.
Ben Weber (two scoreless innings), Al Levine (one scoreless inning) and Troy Percival (first save) combined to throw four innings in relief of Appier, allowing one run and two hits. Russell Branyan homered off Percival in the ninth for the only run.
The Angels got most of their offense from the top of the lineup, where David Eckstein and Darin Erstad combined for five hits, two stolen bases, four runs and three RBIs. Eckstein had three hits, scored three runs, stole a base and made an outstanding defensive play.
Even Troy Glaus went to the opposite field, hitting a two-run double to right-center field in the seventh inning, providing the margin for victory. The Angels stole three bases and ran the bases aggressively all night.
It was the type of offense Angels manager Mike Scioscia stressed during spring training.
''That's my style,'' Erstad said. ''Grind it out, scratch and claw, do the little things to win. A lot of guys did that today. We're going to win a lot of ballgames if we keep doing it.''
The game-winning run, though, came courtesy of Indians second baseman Ricky Gutierrez, who is taking over for Roberto Alomar (traded to the Mets). With two out in the sixth inning and the game tied at 4, Gutierrez dropped Bengie Molina's routine pop fly, allowing Glaus to score from third and give the Angels the lead for good.
After being shut out by Bartolo Colon in their opener, the Angels got on the scoreboard in the first inning against Indians starter C.C. Sabathia. With one out, Erstad singled and stole second. Tim Salmon followed with an RBI double and 1-0 Angels lead.
Appier made a lot of pitches in the first two innings (41) but didn't allow any runs or hits. In the third, though, Omar Vizquel had an RBI triple and Ellis Burks had an RBI single to give Cleveland a 2-1 lead, as Appier's pitch count continued to rise. He made 71 pitches through three innings, 83 through four.
''I didn't think I threw all that badly,'' Appier said. ''They made things really tough, working counts and taking pitches. Really, they were super disciplined at the plate.''
In the fifth, though, the defense betrayed Appier. With one out and no one on base, Matt Lawton hit a hard grounder to Eckstein at shortstop. Eckstein knocked the ball down, picked it up and threw in time to get Lawton. But Lawton was ruled safe because first baseman Benji Gil pulled his foot off the bag. Gil was charged with an error.
It was a costly error, because the Indians went on to score two unearned runs in the inning. Burks drove in the first with an RBI single on a hit-and-run play, and Jim Thome drove in the second with a sacrifice fly.
''His pitch count was extremely high for the fifth inning, but Ape battled and made good pitches,'' Scioscia said. ''We didn't help him much with the error, but Ape kept us in the game.''
The Angels got the runs back in the bottom of the fifth by putting together a rally after two were out and no one was on base. Adam Kennedy drew a walk and stole second, and Eckstein followed with an RBI single to right field, cutting their deficit to 4-3.
Erstad then ripped a double into the right-field corner, scoring Eckstein from first to tie the game at 4.
''Everybody wants to do it, and we definitely have to do it,'' Eckstein said of manufacturing runs. ''When you have a team that wants to do it, it makes you better. If you move runners over it makes it easier for the next guy.''
The Angels went ahead for good in the sixth scoring the unearned run on Gutierrez's error. The only hit of the inning was Brad Fullmer's first as an Angel. With Glaus (walk) on first and two outs, Fullmer singled to right, sending Glaus to third. Molina followed with the popup that was dropped.
ANAHEIM -- The Angels decided during the offseason that they'd be better off spending money on offense, so they let reliable reliever Shigetoshi Hasegawa leave. That opened the door for a variety of the organization's younger pitchers to try to win a job in the bullpen.
Bart Miadich, Brendan Donnelly and Matt Wise were among those in the mix, but ultimately it was veteran Donne Wall who won the job during spring training.
Wall pitched two perfect innings in his Angel debut on Sunday night, a good start in his effort to bounce back from a bad season in 2001 with the Mets. Wall was 0-4 with a 4.85 ERA in 32 appearances last year while battling through shoulder problems.
''I was very frustrated,'' Wall said. ''I tried to stay as positive as I could, but physically, my body wasn't doing what it was used to.''
Wall, 34, is healthy again, and the Angels are hoping that he returns to the form he showed from 1998-2000 with the Padres, when he served as closer Trevor Hoffman's set-up man. In those three seasons Wall went 17-10 with a 2.92 ERA.
''Our job in the bullpen is to get the ball to (closer) Troy (Percival) with the lead,'' he said. ''It doesn't matter if you come in in the third inning or the eighth, just get the ball to Troy.''
Left-handed reliever Dennis Cook made 31 pitches during a simulated game Monday at Rancho Cucamonga, the Angels' Single-A affiliate. Cook, on the disabled list with bruised ribs, will throw again in the Quakes' season-opener on Thursday.
If all goes well, Cook could be activated by Saturday in Texas.
''Oh yeah, I've been antsy,'' Cook said. ''I think I'm close.''
Cook, 39, was injured during the Angels' March 9 fight with the San Diego Padres.
Starter Ramon Ortiz, in staying on a five-day pitching schedule, threw 90 pitches in a simulated game Monday at Rancho Cucamonga. He'll make his first start of the season Saturday in Texas.
Manager Mike Scioscia said the Angels' opening day dud should be something from which the players can learn.
''Opening day is probably as close as you're going to get to a playoff atmosphere,'' he said. ''You'd like the guys to use the experience to get used to it. Opening day is part of the season and the fanfare is part of the package. You want to use that energy for something positive because there might be a time during the season or in the playoffs when you'll be in the same situation.''
APRIL 3, 2002
GAME 3 - INDIANS AT ANGELS
ANAHEIM -- Cleveland Indians starter Chuck Finley was unable to make his scheduled start against the Angels Wednesday night so he could tend to family matters after his wife, actress Tawny Kitaen, was arrested on charges of spousal abuse and battery.
Finley has 189 career wins, while his replacement Ryan Drese went into the game with one. But what looked like a break for the Angels instead worked in the Indians' favor, as Drese out-pitched Angels starter Aaron Sele in a 6-5 Indians victory before 18,194 at Edison Field.
The Angels made things interesting by scoring two runs in the bottom of the ninth. But with the potential tying run on second base, Indians closer Bob Wickman struck out Troy Glaus to end it.
Sele's debut with the Angels wasn't unlike the starts of Jarrod Washburn and Kevin Appier in the first two games of the season. Like Washburn and Appier, Sele lasted only five innings and made a lot of pitches -- 99.
He wasn't terrible, but he wasn't good either. The Indians got eight hits off him, scored four runs and had at least one baserunner in every inning he pitched. Sele also had trouble getting the big out, as the Indians scored three of their four runs against him with two out.
''It was just one of those days,'' said Sele (0-1), who began last season with eight consecutive wins for the Mariners. ''I got the ball up and was battling it the whole game. You get the ball up to good hitters, they'll put the ball in play and that's what they did.''
Sele walked three, struck out two and fell to 5-8 against the Indians in his career.
''Right now it looks like our starters are having trouble getting their feet on the ground and pitching deep into games,'' Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. ''We know that'll flip-flop.''
Meanwhile, Drese escaped a first-inning jam having allowed only one run, then settled into a groove and lasted 5 2/3 innings. It was only his fifth career major league start, but he gave up just three runs and earned his second career major league victory.
''We knew he had a very good arm,'' Scioscia said. ''It was a gutty performance. In the first inning we had him on the ropes.''
In the first inning the Angels loaded the bases with nobody out on a single by Eckstein and walks to Darin Erstad and Tim Salmon. Garret Anderson popped to short for the first out.
Glaus then lined a single to right field, but because the ball was hit so hard the runners advanced only one base, with Eckstein scoring. Brad Fullmer followed with a hard-hit one-hopper to second baseman Ricky Gutierrez, who began a 4-6-3 inning-ending double play.
The Indians offense finished with 11 hits, including two each by Matt Lawton, Omar Vizquel, Brady Anderson and Gutierrez. The Angels also had 11 hits, two each by David Eckstein, Glaus and Bengie Molina.
The Indians went ahead for good in the second inning getting four hits off Sele. Russell Branyan drove in one with a single and Lawton drove home two more with a two-out double for a 3-1 lead.
Down 6-3 in the ninth, the Angels put together a rally against Wickman, starting with Adam Kennedy's leadoff double. He went to third on Eckstein's groundout, and after Erstad walked, Salmon singled to drive in Kennedy, moving Erstad to third. Anderson followed and swung at the first pitch, grounding out to second to score Erstad and move pinch runner Jeff DaVanon to second.
But on a 3-2 count, Wickman struck out Glaus with a splitter, allowing the Indians to take two of three in the series.
ANAHEIM -- Indians pitcher Chuck Finley, scheduled to start Wednesday's game against the Angels, was scratched from the lineup ''to take care of his family,'' according to Indians general manager Mark Shapiro.
Finley's wife, actress Tawny Kitaen, was charged Wednesday with spousal abuse and battery for allegedly attacking him while the two drove home to Newport Beach from dinner on Monday night.
''She kicked him in the thigh, in the leg, in the arm, she grabbed his ear and twisted it,'' said Tori Richards, spokeswoman for the Orange County district attorney's office. ''At one point, her high-heel shoe was on top of his foot pressing the accelerator to the ground.''
According to Richards, after the couple arrived home a third party called 911. Police arrested Kitaen after they noticed abrasions and scrapes on Finley. Kitaen, who since marrying Finley in 1997 has gone by her given name of Julie, was released from Orange County Jail on Wednesday. If convicted of the two misdemeanor counts, Kitaen, 40, faces up to a year in jail and a $6,000 fine.
A judge also issued a restraining order against Kitaen, ordering her to have no contact with Finley. Kitaen will continue to live in the couple's Newport Beach home. Finley, who signed with the Indians in 2000 after 14 seasons with the Angels, lives in the Ritz Carlton in downtown Cleveland when the team is home.
Following Monday night's incident, Finley attended Tuesday's game at Edison Field. Indians manager Charlie Manuel said Finley ''seemed fine.''
But Finley called Shapiro Wednesday afternoon and said he couldn't pitch in the game. It would have been Finley's first start of the season.
''He did not feel like he'd make it to the ballpark,'' Shapiro said. ''And if he did he wouldn't be able to pitch. He's just trying to take care of his kids and family right now.
''My attitude is, he's the same as any player in our organization. Everyone has issues outside of being a major league player that you have to deal with in life. What he's going through is the regular ups and downs people go through in their personal lives. But it's tough to go through it when you're in an environment like this.''
Shapiro said he expects Finley to rejoin the team this weekend in Detroit.
Closer Troy Percival underwent an MRI and bone scan Wednesday because of lingering discomfort in his mid-section. Percival was diagnosed with a strained right intercostal muscle and will be out at least until Monday, when he'll be reevaluated.
Before the results of the tests were known, Percival, who earned a save Tuesday night, wasn't concerned: ''It's no big story, it's something that's been bothering me for about three weeks. It's more for peace of mind.''
Percival said he first felt the discomfort pitching against Colorado in a spring training game in mid-March, but he ''tried to pitch through it.'' Percival's velocity on Tuesday was down to the 92-94 mph range, below his normal 95-98 mph.
''I haven't been able to jump on a pitch 100 percent,'' he said. ''It's been more like 90 percent.''
Left-handed reliever Dennis Cook (bruised ribs) will throw in the season opener for Single-A Rancho Cucamonga today. If all goes well, Cook could be activated from the disabled list on Saturday. … ... The Angels are off Thursday and will begin a three-game series in Texas starting Friday.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.
APRIL 4, 2002
OFF DAY - NOTEBOOK
ARLINGTON, Tex. -- The Angels will be without closer Troy Percival for the three-game series against the Texas Rangers starting Friday because Percival has a strained intercostal muscle on his right side. Manager Mike Scioscia said he'll implement a closer-by-committee, going by matchups and availability.
Al Levine and Ben Weber are most likely to get the call to pitch the ninth in a save situation.
Percival and Scioscia insist they aren't worried that the injury will become a long-term ordeal, and they say they don't expect the right-hander to end up on the disabled list. He'll be re-evaluated on Monday.
The injury has lingered for weeks, as Percival said he first hurt himself March 14 in a spring training game against the Rockies. He pitched six more times during the spring, and then again on Tuesday, when he pitched the ninth and got a save.
After Percival hurt himself initially, the Angels thought he could pitch through it. But when treatment didn't fix the problem, the tests were ordered. After the MRI revealed the strain, Percival said he wasn't surprised.
''It's consistent with what I thought it was,'' he said. ''But it's too early in the year to go out there and try to pitch through it. I'll take three or four days and get back to 100 percent. If this was September, I could go out and pitch.''
Conscious of the injury, Percival said he threw at about 90 percent in last Tuesday's game against the Indians, throwing his fastball at 92-94 mph, below his typical 95-98 mph. He gave up a leadoff homer to Russell Branyan before getting the final three outs.
Scioscia and the Angels seemed relieved with the diagnosis.
''It could have been a lot worse,'' Scioscia said. ''When you hear the word 'MRI' you think the worst, it's almost like a curse. But this is something that's fixable, and fixable on a short-term basis.''
The Angels' game Friday afternoon is the Rangers' home opener. There will be additional security measures in place because vice president Dick Cheney will be in attendance.
APRIL 5, 2002
GAME 4 - ANGELS AT RANGERS
ARLINGTON, Tex. -- Scott Schoeneweis did Friday what Jarrod Washburn, Kevin Appier and Aaron Sele could not in the Angels' first three games of the season -- pitch into the sixth inning.
In fact, Schoeneweis went a few steps further, going into the ninth inning and leading the Angels to a 3-1 victory over the dangerous Texas Rangers Friday afternoon before Vice President Dick Cheney and a sellout crowd of 49,617 at The Ballpark in Arlington.
While his fellow starters needed around 100 pitches to get through five, Schoeneweis walked off the mound with one out in the ninth having made 99 pitches. He gave up one run and five hits, struck out six and walked only one.
The Rangers' murderers' row of Alex Rodriguez, Juan Gonzalez, Rafael Palmeiro and Ivan Rodriguez combined to go 2 for 12 with four strikeouts against Schoeneweis. Alex Rodriguez struck out three times himself, including taking a called third strike in the ninth inning that caused him to slam his bat to the ground.
''I don't know what happened to us,'' Rodriguez said. ''He took it to us. Our thing is, I think we were too aggressive.''
Schoeneweis kept the Rangers off balance by changing speeds and throwing fewer sinkers, his primary pitch.
''We mixed it up,'' catcher Bengie Molina said. ''They all know he throws a sinker, but we mixed in a fastball and changeup. We got 'em by surprise. Last year he didn't have a changeup.''
Schoeneweis entered the ninth inning and gave up a leadoff double to Gabe Kapler. He struck out Alex Rodriguez looking on a slider and was taken out of the game. Al Levine came in and retired Gonzalez on a groundout and Palmeiro on a flyout to earn his first save.
''I've learned once (Scioscia) steps out of the dugout, there's no discussion,'' Schoeneweis said of coming out of the game. ''It was for the best.''
''That was a great performance,'' Scioscia said. ''You have to understand that's a very powerful offense, there's not much leeway. He made great pitches all day, he changed speeds well, and we played good defense behind him.''
For a while, though, Schoeneweis' performance appeared as though it might not be good enough. Rangers starter Ismael Valdes, who went 9-13 for the Angels last season, shut out the Angels on two singles through six innings.
When Valdes took the mound to start the seventh, the Angels had not even moved a baserunner as far as second base.
''Ismael pitched a terrific ballgame,'' Scioscia said. ''One thing about today's game is he didn't use his breaking ball as much. But his fastball command was as good as I've seen it.''
The Angels finally got to him when Tim Salmon led off the seventh inning with a double to left. One out later, Troy Glaus homered to left on a 1-2 pitch to give the Angels the lead for good. Molina added an RBI single in the ninth off reliever Colby Lewis.
''He's absolutely getting better,'' Scioscia said of Glaus. ''He understands the big picture of a guy in the middle of the lineup and what he has to bring. He's done a great job in RBI situations this year.''
The Rangers' only run came home in the second inning after Gonzalez singled, went to third on a double by Palmeiro and scored on Carl Everett's sacrifice fly. After that, no Ranger reached second base until Kapler's double in the ninth.
Schoeneweis believes adding the changeup was the difference.
''I think there was a little bit of uncertainty, a little bit of surprise,'' Schoeneweis said. ''Hitters will look for a certain pitch in a certain area at a certain speed. That's not how I want to get hitters out.
''That's a tough lineup. When you've got Carl Everett hitting seventh, that's a pretty good indication.''
ARLINGTON, Tex. -- Already playing short-handed because of the suspension to Scott Spiezio and the injury to Troy Percival, the Angels suffered another blow Friday when first baseman Benji Gil had to leave the game in the first inning with a sprained left ankle.
After the game, the Angels placed Gil and Percival on the 15-day disabled list.
Percival, bothered by a strained intercostal muscle on his right side for the past three weeks, last pitched on April 2 and will be eligible to return on April 18. Gil, who is eligible to return April 21, hurt his ankle in a play at first base against the Rangers.
Gil fielded a slow grounder hit by Rusty Greer leading off the bottom of the first. Gil was too far from the bag, so he tagged Greer, who slid into Gil's ankle.
Gil remained in the game as Gabe Kapler flied out to center for the second out. But with a 1-2 count on Alex Rodriguez, Gil limped off the field.
''It swelled up like a balloon,'' Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. ''We're going to give him some time.''
Gil was taken to a nearby hospital for X-rays, which were negative.
Utility player Clay Bellinger and right-handed reliever Brendan Donnelly have been called up from Triple-A Salt Lake and will join the team Saturday.
Donnelly was 0-1 with a 4.80 ERA in 12 spring games, while Bellinger, who played with the Yankees the previous three seasons, hit .261 this spring.
The Angels had hoped left-handed reliever Dennis Cook (bruised ribs) would be ready to come off the disabled list by Saturday, but he is not ready.
Cook will throw off the mound Saturday, and if he comes out of it OK he could be activated early next week when the team returns to Anaheim.
Rangers pitcher Ismael Valdes gave up two runs and five hits in eight innings against his former teammates. But like so many games in his past, he got the loss when the offense didn't support him.
''I was nervous,'' Valdes said. ''I was pitching in the first opening day game of my career against my former teammates. But it was a great game for me. My control was good. My off-speed pitches were working well today. I'm just trying to keep our team in the game and get the victory. I can't control the offense.''