By Joe Haakenson, AngelsWin.com Contributor -
JUNE 20, 2002
GAME 69 - ANGELS AT CARDINALS
ST. LOUIS -- Troy Percival knows Jim Edmonds well. So well, the Angels closer wasn't about to challenge his friend and former teammate with the game on the line.
With a one-run lead and the potential tying run on third base with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, Percival walked Edmonds on four pitches. Percival got the next hitter, Tino Martinez, to pop out and allow the Angels to hold on for a 3-2 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals in front of 36,385 at Busch Stadium.
Many Angels called it a big win on an emotional day at Busch, where Hall of Fame broadcaster Jack Buck was honored with a memorial service before the game. The Angels avoided a sweep and broke their four-game losing streak.
Angels starter Scott Schoeneweis (6-5) endured the 94-degree heat to go 5 2/3 innings, getting just enough support from an offense led by leadoff hitter David Eckstein, who had three hits and scored two runs. But the game came down to the ninth with Percival, who had not pitched since June 12, left to finish it off.
Percival threw 23 fastballs in the inning and one curveball. That curve was hit sharply by Kerry Robinson leading off the inning, but second baseman Adam Kennedy made a nice play for the first out.
Edgar Renteria followed with a fly ball to deep left field, the ball going over left fielder Garret Anderson's head and off the wall, and Renteria wound up with a triple.
With a chance to tie the game, Eli Marrero didn't last long against Percival. After ball-one, Percival blew Marrero away with three consecutive fastballs clocked at 98-, 97- and 98-mph. That brought up Edmonds, and though it wasn't an intentional walk, Percival kept the ball off the plate far enough to put Edmonds on first base.
``I can't say I faced him right there,'' said Percival, who has 16 saves in 18 chances this season. ``I think everybody in the park knew what was going on there. I can't let a guy of his caliber beat me right there. Nothing against the next guy (Martinez), but there aren't many players like (Edmonds). I've seen him do it too many times.''
The strategy worked when Martinez popped to Kennedy at second base.
``The first thing I thought was it's miserably hot out there and if I tie this up, the players will have a mutiny,'' Percival joked. ``It was at the point where I'd rather give up a two-run homer so the guys will still be able to play tomorrow.''
Percival's teammates unanimously agreed with his strategy to pitch around Edmonds and they said they had confidence in him even after the Cardinals put the tying run on third with one out.
``We've got Troy Percival,'' Eckstein said. ``Sometimes with a runner on third he gets even better.''
The Angels might not have had to sweat this one out if they had done a better job of capitalizing on scoring opportunities earlier in the game. Cardinals starter Bud Smith (0-5) went into the game with a 0-4 record and 8.74 ERA, and the Angels loaded the bases with nobody out in the first.
They got one run on Tim Salmon's RBI single and another on Scott Spiezio's sacrifice fly for a 2-0 lead, but wasted several chances the rest of the way, stranding six baserunners in scoring position.
However, they got a big run in the seventh when Eckstein scored from second on a single to center by Darin Erstad. Marrero made a strong throw from center but Eckstein made a nice head-first slide, swiping his left hand across the plate and avoiding catcher Mike Matheny's tag.
``We've hit a little rut,'' Erstad said of the offense, which scored only seven runs in the series against the Cardinals. ``We're swinging the bats well but we hit some balls hard right at guys. We've been so good the last six weeks, we're all trying to execute but it hasn't been happening. But the main thing is our approach is right.''
ST. LOUIS -- The St. Louis Cardinals honored Hall of Fame broadcaster Jack Buck, who died at age 77 on Tuesday, with a memorial service before Thursday's game.
Fans were allowed to view Buck's closed casket, which was placed behind home plate. A total of 10,077 fans viewed the casket before the line was cut off so the club could begin the memorial service.
Several people spoke during the service, including Cardinal Hall of Famers Stan Musial and Lou Brock, Cardinals manager Tony La Russa and Mike Shannon, who sat alongside Buck in the broadcast booth since 1971.
Broadcaster Joe Buck, Jack's son, served as the master of ceremonies.
``When you think of Stan Musial's five homers in a doubleheader, Bob Gibson's no-hitter, Red Schoendienst's Hall of Fame career, Lou Brock's stolen base record, Ozzie Smith's 1985 playoff home run, you think about Jack Buck,'' said William DeWitt, the Cardinals' chairman of the board. ``When you think about Mark McGwire's home run chase, you think about Jack Buck. When you think about the return to baseball after Sept. 11, we also think about Jack Buck.''
Musial, 81, got a standing ovation when he was introduced.
``It was a great pleasure to know Jack Buck, he always had an uplifting spirit,'' Musial said. ``He always had a positive attitude even in the face of the ailments he had late in life. He enjoyed people, he loved St. Louis and he loved the St. Louis Cardinals. We will miss him greatly. And Jack, the fans and I, we all love you.''
Angels manager Mike Scioscia went 1-2 in his first head-to-head matchup with La Russa, but said he didn't consider the series anything more than the Angels vs. the Cardinals. La Russa has managed in the majors since 1979, including in the 1988 World Series for the A's when Scioscia was a player with the Dodgers.
``I have a ton of respect for Tony, but I don't look at it like I'm competing against him,'' Scioscia said. ``I know what he has accomplished as a manager. I think Tony's got a good philosophy. He'll look at his assets on the club and he maximizes it. He doesn't force anything. You look at when he was with Oakland and had all that power. Now with this club he works hard to expand the offense and get the most out of it.''
Ex-Angel and current Cardinals center fielder Jim Edmonds was not in the starting lineup Thursday. Edmonds had just returned from the disabled list on Sunday because of a sprained right wrist. He pinch hit in the seventh and flied out before walking in the ninth. For the series, Edmonds went 1 for 10 with a home run and a walk in the series. ... The Angels designated utility player Clay Bellinger for assignment. Bellinger had played all season at Triple-A Salt Lake.