By Joe Haakenson, AngelsWin.com Contributor -
GAME 62 - PIRATES AT ANGELS
ANAHEIM -- The Angels were so close to first place they could smell it.
A check of the out-of-town scoreboard in right field Tuesday night showed the A.L. West-leading Mariners had lost to the Cardinals, 7-4, meaning an Angels win would vault them into a first-place tie.
The Angels haven't been in first place in the month of June since 1998, and they still haven't, because they lost to the Pittsburgh Pirates, 7-3, in front of 17,755 at Edison Field, and remain one game back.
It was a game the Angels had a chance to win, at least until Pokey Reese's three-run double in the eighth inning off Donne Wall broke the game open. The Angels had rallied from a 4-0 deficit to get within 4-3, but Reese came up with the bases loaded and hit one off the base of the wall in left-center.
The Angels had to feel somewhat fortunate to even have a chance to win Tuesday's game considering how starter Kevin Appier pitched and how the Angels appeared to lack their usual focus and intensity.
That was evident as early as the fourth inning when left fielder Garret Anderson jogged towards Reese's flyball to left-center. Anderson appeared as though he expected center fielder Darin Erstad would make the catch. Erstad, though, began the play aligned toward right-center and had a long way to go.
When Anderson realized Erstad couldn't get there in time, he lunged at the last moment but missed the ball. Reese had an RBI double and the Pirates had a 3-0 lead.
``There's nothing to talk about,'' Anderson said of the play. ``Write it as you saw it.''
Angels manager Mike Scioscia said the ball should have been caught but wouldn't blame either of his outfielders.
``Both were a little indecisive,'' he said. ``It wasn't a lack of effort. They saw the ball and were a little unsure about who'd have a better shot at catching it. It's tough to say who should have caught it, but a ball that's got that much hang time should be caught.''
Appier (5-5) struggled from the start as the Pirates had at least one runner in scoring position in every inning he pitched. He complained of tightness in his right (pitching) forearm after his last start but said after the game Tuesday the problem is gone.
However, he lasted only 4 2/3 innings and was tagged with his fourth loss in a row. After starting the season 5-1 with a 2.96 ERA in his first nine starts, he's 0-4 with a 6.41 ERA in his past four.
``I've throw good games with less command than I had tonight,'' Appier said. ``I've been in kind of a funk, in conjunction with having (expletive) luck, and that's a bad combination.''
Appier began the second inning by hitting Aramis Ramirez with a pitch. One out later, Kevin Young belted a two-run homer to break a scoreless tie.
``It was supposed to be a slider,'' Appier said of the pitch to Young. ``But it was a piece of (expletive). That's what it was.''
Reese's gift double in the fourth made it 3-0, and after Craig Wilson's two-out, RBI single scored Jason Kendall to make it 4-0 in the fifth, Appier was through.
The Angels didn't get to Pirates starter Josh Fogg (7-4) until the bottom of the fifth after Adam Kennedy's one-out triple. David Eckstein, a teammate of Fogg's at the University of Florida, drove Kennedy home with a grounder to second.
The Angels knocked Fogg out of the game in the seventh after Brad Fullmer and Scott Spiezio hit back-to-back homers, cutting the Pirates' lead to 4-3.
``He didn't have anything I haven't seen before,'' Anderson said of Fogg. ``I saw everything he had. He kept the ball down and threw strikes, but he had nothing special.''
But it was enough to hold the Angels down and keep them from reaching the division's top spot, at least for now.
``I'm not a scoreboard watcher, but I don't think there's any time -- early, middle or late -- when you wouldn't want to pick up a game,” Anderson said. “That's one less game you have to win later on.''
ANAHEIM -- Third baseman Troy Glaus went into Tuesday's game hitting a modest .263, and his 13 home runs put him on a pace for 35, which would be a drop-off from each of the past two seasons, when he hit 47 (2000) and 41 (2001).
Glaus, though, could be on his way to the most productive season in Angels history. It's a matter of looking at the numbers that mean the most. And to Glaus and the Angels, it's all about RBIs and runs scored.
Glaus went into Tuesday's game against the Pirates with 52 RBIs (second in the A.L.), which put him on a pace for 138. He had 49 runs scored (third in the A.L.), which put him on a pace for 130.
The Angels' team records in those categories are 139 RBIs (Don Baylor, 1979) and 121 runs (Darin Erstad, 2000).
``Those are the only two stats that count,'' Glaus said. ``RBIs and runs scored, that's it. I'd rather hit .260 and score a bunch of runs and drive in a bunch than hit .340 and not.''
It has taken time for Glaus to learn when to cut down on his big, home run swing and adjust his approach to the situation.
``It's something that started the last couple months of last season,'' manager Mike Scioscia said. ``He's started to understand it, and put his focus on overall production.''
Glaus admitted he'd like to hit for a higher average, but it's not something he's worried about.
``We strive for perfection,'' Glaus said. ``Granted, perfection is an unattainable goal in this game, but it's what we all strive for. It's why we put in the extra time in the cages. It's why we work as hard as we do.''
Reliever Al Levine was examined Tuesday by Dr. Lewis Yocum, who confirmed what Monday's MRI exam showed -- that there is nothing seriously wrong with Levine's right shoulder.
Levine was not available for Tuesday's game and his availability for tonight's game is doubtful.
If Levine has to go on the disabled list, the Angels could call up either Matt Wise or Brendan Donnelly from Triple-A Salt Lake.
Outfielder Rob Quinlan was named the organization's minor league player of the month for May. Quinlan hit .373 with six homers and 33 RBIs for Salt Lake. Donnelly was the pitcher of the month, going 4-0 with a 1.88 ERA.