By Joe Haakenson, AngelsWin.com Contributor -
MAY 1, 2002
GAME 26 - ANGELS AT INDIANS
CLEVELAND – Jarrod Washburn spent much of Wednesday afternoon in the Angels clubhouse making sure a group of his teammates were committed to going on the early-morning fishing trip he organized for today.
Ramon Ortiz, though, promised to go only if Washburn pitched well against the Cleveland Indians Wednesday night. After Washburn held the Indians to two runs and five hits in seven innings in a 7-2 Angels win, it's safe to say Ortiz got his 7 a.m. wakeup call.
''I'll be interested to see how he handles a flyrod,'' Washburn said.
The win was the Angels' sixth in a row, matching their longest winning streak last season. Washburn (3-2) pitched his best game of the season and got help from the resurgent Angels offense, which had 11 hits, including two each from Darin Erstad, Brad Fullmer and Adam Kennedy.
The key to the game came in the fifth inning when Washburn faced his only trouble of the night. With the Angels leading, 4-1, Washburn walked two and gave up a single and the Indians had the bases loaded with nobody out.
He fell behind in the count to Omar Vizquel, 2-0, before giving up a sacrifice fly. Facing the Indians' Nos. 3 and 4 hitters, Washburn got Travis Fryman to pop out and got Jim Thome to take a called third strike to get out of it.
''Facing Thome, that was fun for me,'' Washburn said. ''He's a great hitter and that was a tough situation. It was fun.''
Fun because Washburn caught Thome looking at a slider to end the threat.
''The true story of Wash is to look at the bottom line,'' Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. ''He's very aggressive going after hitters. You look at his innings and the runs he gives up, he's certainly comparable to the top pitchers in our league.''
Washburn retired the Indians in order in the sixth and seventh innings before calling it a night. During the seventh Scioscia made a visit to the mound to check on Washburn, who complained of a tight forearm. But he was allowed to finish the inning and says he's fine.
The offense got a boost from Fullmer, who still does not have a home run this season but keyed Angels rallies in the second and fourth innings.
In the second Fullmer tripled to right-center, then scored on Bengie Molina's sacrifice fly to give the Angels a 1-0 lead. After Einar Diaz's homer in the third tied the game at 1, the Angels scored three in the fourth, including one on Fullmer's RBI double.
Going homerless in April marked the first time in Fullmer's major league career he's gone a full month without a homer. But he said it's not a concern.
''Home runs are the furthest thing from my mind,'' Fullmer said. ''I have no desire to focus on that right now. Worrying about hitting home runs only prolongs problems at the plate. If you hit the ball hard, that will take care of itself.''
Even though the club has Troy Glaus, the Angels are not a home-run hitting team. They've outscored their opponents, 61-19, during their six-game winning streak, but still have only 15 home runs all season, good for 12th in the American League.
''Our offense is based on every inning getting guys on base and putting pressure on clubs,'' Scioscia said. ''We did a good job of doing that tonight.''
After the Indians cut the Angels' lead to 4-2 on Vizquel's sacrifice fly in the fifth, the Angels added a run in the seventh, thanks to the Indians' third error of the game.
Kennedy (single) was on first when David Eckstein fouled out to left fielder Russell Branyan. Branyan had no shot at doubling up Kennedy at first, but made a wild throw that sailed into the Angels dugout for a two-base error, moving Kennedy to third. Kennedy eventually scored on a single by Erstad.
''We haven't played perfect baseball, but the offensive side has opened things up,'' Scioscia said of the winning streak. ''What I like is the starting pitching. That's where it begins with our club.''
CLEVELAND -- Pitcher Chuck Finley, who will start against his former Angels teammates tonight, is in the third and final year of his three-year, $27 million deal with the Indians. He said he hasn't determined whether or not he'll retire at the end of this season, but returning to the Angels next season is not an option.
''I don't know if there's a place for me over there,'' said Finley, who spent 14 seasons with the Angels. ''I wouldn't feel too comfortable. I don't know many people there, except for four or five people in the front office. The surroundings don't feel that familiar anymore.''
Finley, though, did say that once his playing days are through, he'd consider working for the Angels in some capacity. But it wouldn't be something which would take him away from his Newport Beach home.
''Like getting coffee for the GM,'' Finley quipped. ''Or making sure (vice president) Tim Mead has fresh flowers on his desk every day.''
Finley has maintained a sense of humor despite going through a lot of changes recently. He filed for divorce last month only days after his wife, actress Tawny Kitaen, was charged with spousal battery resulting from an incident in Southern California when the Indians were in town to play the Angels.
''I come here (to the ballpark) and everything else goes away for a couple hours,'' he said. ''I'm in a situation where I've got more things going on away from the game. But sometimes it's hard not to think about things when you're sitting in the dugout watching a game.''
Finley missed his scheduled start against the Angels April 3 after the allegations against his wife were made public.
''I talked with the general manager (Mark Shapiro) and we came to the conclusion of, what's more important here?'' Finley said of skipping his start. ''It was a no-brainer.''
Finley, 2-2 with a 6.75 ERA in four starts, said he won't decide on what he'll do next season until after this season.
''Physically, I feel great,'' he said. ''It'll come down to whether I still want to play. I still feel I can compete and win big ballgames. I think my stuff's good enough; I know it is.''
The Angels made a roster move after Wednesday's game, optioning outfielder Jeff DaVanon to Triple-A Salt Lake and calling up outfielder Julio Ramirez.
DaVanon homered, singled and drove in four on Tuesday night, but was hitting .167 overall and often appeared overmatched at the plate. Ramirez was hitting .272 with one homer and six RBIs at Salt Lake.
Manager Mike Scioscia said the move was made to give DaVanon a chance to get more at-bats while giving Ramirez a chance to be that right-handed bat off the bench the club needs.
''It's tough for a guy with not a lot of at-bats in the big leagues,'' Scioscia said of DaVanon's limited role with the Angels. ''Jeff needs to play.''
Scioscia added that Ramirez and DaVanon have similar tools -- both can run and throw well. Ramirez, who was claimed off waivers from the White Sox just before the end of spring training, once stole 71 bases in a minor league season.
The Angels scored 21 runs on Tuesday night, but it might have been more had not third base coach Ron Roenicke held up runners at third late in the game. However, it wasn't because the Angels were worried about rubbing it in.
''We're still going to play baseball,'' Scioscia said. ''Obviously, we're not going to steal or bunt. But the thing you worry about is if there's a close play at home, you don't want to put a guy in harm's way to pick up your 18th or 19th run. Ron used good judgment.''