By Joe Haakenson, AngelsWin.com Contributor -
JUNE 21, 2002
GAME 70 - ANGELS AT BREWERS
MILWAUKEE -- All of his teammates have made a big joke out of the fact that Ramon Ortiz ended last season claiming to be 26 before immigration officials discovered his actual age to be 29.
But the Angels' pitcher has truly grown up.
Ortiz pitched another strong game Friday night, holding the Milwaukee Brewers to two runs in seven innings in the Angels' 11-4 victory before 20,289 at Miller Park.
Ortiz gave up another home run -- he's allowed a major league-leading 23 -- but it came with nobody on base. Nineteen of the 23 have been solo homers, including Robert Machado's on Friday.
That in itself is a sign of Ortiz's maturity, something that had been the missing link to his development as a pitcher. Unlike past seasons, Ortiz will challenge hitters in an effort to avoid walking them. He walked one on Friday while striking out seven.
``He doesn't want to walk anybody,'' Angels catcher Bengie Molina said of Ortiz, who improved to 8-5 and lowered his ERA to 3.34. ``He's willing to let you hit it and make you beat him, even if you get a single, double, whatever. In years past, he'd be upset after giving up a hit, and he'd start rushing his pitches. This year, he's so calm, even after giving up a homer.''
It was easy for Ortiz to be calm on Friday, though, because the Angels offense had its best output in three weeks. They scored seven of their 11 runs off Brewers starter Ruben Quevedo (3-6), including five runs in the fourth inning that broke the game open.
Garret Anderson had the big hit of the inning, driving in three with a bases-loaded double. But the inning was set up in much smaller fashion.
After Brad Fullmer was hit by a pitch to begin the inning, Angels manager Mike Scioscia called for a hit-and-run. With Brewers shortstop Jose Hernandez breaking to cover second, Molina hit a grounder through the vacated shortstop's hole and into left field for a single, driving Fullmer to third.
Molina said he didn't know whether the shortstop or second baseman would cover second base as Quevedo delivered the pitch.
``You don't know who's covering until they break,'' Molina said. ``So I was looking with the corner of my eye. I usually hit the ball to second base, but honestly, when I saw (Hernandez) break, I hooked the ball to the shortstop side.''
The Angels scored the first run of the inning when Adam Kennedy singled home Fullmer, but the inning nearly stalled. Because the slow-footed Molina was on second base, Scioscia tried to surprise the Brewers by having Ortiz swing away instead of bunt the runners over, but Ortiz grounded into a double play.
A few minutes later the play was forgotten because the Angels scored four more runs in the inning, one scoring on a single by Darin Erstad and three on Anderson's double.
They added three runs in the fifth inning, two coming home on a single by David Eckstein. In all, the Angels had 12 hits, including solo homers by Fullmer (No. 8) and Troy Glaus (No. 14).
``You just want to get hits at the right time and tonight we did that,'' said Anderson, who had two doubles to increase his season total to 26, tied with Boston's Nomar Garciaparra for most in the American League.
Ortiz was as grateful for the offense as anybody, even if he didn't need it. With veterans like Kevin Appier and Aaron Sele on the staff, it has been Ortiz who has emerged as the most consistent.
``Every time, I have good focus, good concentration,'' he said. ``I don't overthrow and I have good mechanics. I've got more experience in the major leagues.''
Despite the win, the Angels remained three games behind the first-place Seattle Mariners in the A.L. West.
MILWAUKEE -- The Angels got their first look at Milwaukee's Miller Park Friday, and for most of them, this weekend's series will be the only games they'll play here this year.
There will be at least one Angel who will be here next month when the year-old ballpark will be the site of the All-Star game. No Angel is close to winning a starting spot based on the fans' vote, but there are a few who might be named as a reserve. Every team must have at least one All-Star.
``No doubt there are players on this team who are All-Stars,'' manager Mike Scioscia said. ``The thing about the All-Star team is there are always guys left off that are deserving. We've got Garret (Anderson) and Troy Glaus. And look at what (Troy) Percival and Tim Salmon are doing. Darin Erstad. These guys are definitely deserving of All-Star consideration.''
Of that group, Percival, Erstad and Glaus have been All-Stars before. Both Anderson and Salmon have had All-Star caliber seasons in the past but never have been named to the team. That includes Anderson last season, when he was hitting .279 with 15 homers and 62 RBIs at the break.
``There's politics involved, and that takes the fun out of it,'' Anderson said. ``I thought I had a case last year but I didn't get picked. There were a lot of guys like that, I wasn't the only one. The coaches take care of their own, and it kind of takes the luster out of it.''
Yankees manager Joe Torre, like last season, will manage the American League team and will pick the reserves.
``Joe knows baseball,'' Scioscia said. ``He'll put a team together within the parameters the league has determined.''
The Angels finish up play in National League ballparks this weekend, and it couldn't come soon enough for the Angels pitchers. Forced to play without the designated hitter, the Angels have been at a noticeable disadvantage with their pitchers flailing away at the plate compared to their counterparts on the N.L. teams.
Through Friday's game, the Angels pitchers are hitting .071 (1 for 14) with nine strikeouts and no sacrifice bunts. The only hit came when Aaron Sele beat out a comebacker because Cardinals pitcher Matt Morris hesitated and looked towards second base after fielding the ball.
Besides Sele's hit, Ramon Ortiz is the only pitcher to put a ball in play. The others -- Kevin Appier, Jarrod Washburn and Scott Schoeneweis -- have struck out in every at-bat.
``We have them working their (rears) off, but once they step in the box, it's a different story. There's a fear factor,'' hitting coach Mickey Hatcher said. ``It's difficult playing interleague games because the National League pitchers are used to hitting. Right now we're just trying to get them through this series and hope they can get down a bunt.''
Washburn will make his first major league start in his home state of Wisconsin tonight against the Brewers. He said his aunt Diane bought 62 tickets for tonight's game, but added that it doesn't make a difference that he'll be pitching in the new Miller Park and not the old County Stadium.
``I liked the old place,'' Washburn said. ``I didn't know it was a dump and run down, I was a little kid. It's a big league ballpark, so you don't think about the other stuff.''
First baseman/DH Shawn Wooten looked good during a full baseball workout Friday afternoon and if he comes out of it today fine and continues to progress, he'll likely begin a rehab assignment next week.
Wooten missed the beginning of the season because of surgery on his thumb, then strained a muscle in his right side on May 31 during a rehab assignment.