By Joe Haakenson, AngelsWin.com Contributor -
JULY 23, 2002
GAME 98 - A’S AT ANGELS
ANAHEIM -- Fresh off their three-game sweep of the Seattle Mariners, the Angels had little time to breath to get ready for the Oakland A's who reminded the Angels there is more than one team to beat in the American League West.
In one of the best-played games by both teams all season, the A's held off the Angels for a 2-1 win before 25,370 at Edison Field. The result created a three-way tie for the top spot in the wild-card race between the Angels, A's and Boston Red Sox. The Angels and A's trail the Mariners, who won Tuesday, by two games in the West.
``They're right there,'' Angels shortstop David Eckstein said of the A's, who have beaten the Angels seven times in 10 games this season. ``To get where we want to be, we've got to beat Oakland also.''
A's starter Barry Zito improved to 14-3, getting outstanding defense behind him and just enough offense. The A's had only four hits in the game off Angels starter Kevin Appier (eight innings) and reliever Brendan Donnelly (one inning), but one of those hits was shortstop Miguel Tejada's two-run homer in the sixth inning.
Tejada also saved two runs with a diving, backhanded catch of Darin Erstad's line drive with two out and the bases loaded in the fifth inning.
But it was an error by Tejada in the ninth inning that nearly cost the A's. Pinch hitter Adam Kennedy led off with a high popup to shallow left field off A's closer Billy Koch that popped out of Tejada's glove. Kennedy, though, was slow out of the batter's box and only got as far as first base.
``I just didn't break out of the box good, that's all,'' Kennedy explained.
Angels manager Mike Scioscia wouldn't criticize Kennedy for not reaching second base, but the A's were happy to see Kennedy only get as far as first.
``I'm just glad he was dogging it,'' Koch said. ``He should have been at third as high as that one was. It saved the game for us.''
David Eckstein sacrificed Kennedy to second before Erstad lined out to left for the second out. Koch (25th save) got Tim Salmon on a grounder to first to end it.
Zito went 6 1/3 innings, allowing one run and five hits. Only last Thursday Zito shut out the Angels over 7 1/3 innings in a 2-0 A's victory, and Tuesday he picked up where he left off. The Angels didn't have a hit until Shawn Wooten's leadoff single in the fifth inning.
Zito took a 2-0 lead into the seventh when he gave up a leadoff single to Jose Molina. One out later, A's manager Art Howe removed Zito, who had made 112 pitches. Reliever Chad Bradford got Eckstein to hit into a force play for the second out, but Erstad finally found a hole when he grounded a triple inside first and down the right-field line to score Eckstein and make it 2-1.
With the potential tying run on third, Salmon struck out looking at a 3-2 pitch on the outside corner to end the inning.
The Angels had another chance to tie the game in the eighth when singles by Troy Glaus and Wooten gave the Angels runners on first and second with one out. A's reliever Jim Mecir ran the count full to Spiezio, then struck him out looking at a 75-mph curveball for the second out.
Pinch hitter Orlando Palmeiro followed with a hard grounder up the middle, but second baseman Mark Ellis backhanded the ball and flipped to second for the force out to end the threat. It was Ellis' second outstanding play in the inning, as he made a diving stop to rob Garret Anderson of a hit leading off the inning.
The Angels had two hits each in innings 5 through 8, but managed only the one run.
Appier (8-8) matched Zito zero-for-zero through five innings, allowing only two hits -- both singles -- himself. In the sixth, Ellis led off with a single before being picked off first base by the catcher Molina.
Scott Hatteburg walked before Tejada ripped a 2-2 pitch over the fence in left for a two-run homer (No. 21) and a 2-0 A's lead. When he was finished, Appier went eight innings, his longest outing of the season. But it wasn't good enough.
``It's right up there,'' Appier said when asked if Tuesday's performance was his best of the season. ``It was definitely a good a solid game. Obviously it took a different level of performance to come out on top in a game like today.''
ANAHEIM -- Angels player representative Scott Schoeneweis presided over a players-only meeting Tuesday during which they voted -- unanimously, according to Schoeneweis -- to authorize the players union to set a strike date.
Schoeneweis said the union has a general idea of when that date would be, but would not reveal it. He did say that the rumored date of Sept. 16 is wrong.
``I don't know where that date came from or what the source of that was but no date has been set,'' Schoeneweis said. ``It was a surprise and also semi-embarrassing because that date has not been discussed, that date has not been voted on and that date has not been approved.''
Schoeneweis said that if a strike date is approved, it will be revealed weeks before it would begin.
``Setting a date is to spur the negotiating process,'' he said. ``If negotiations are not spurred by that, obviously we might have to strike. The purpose of it is to get things moving. It needs to be set and made public with enough time for both sides to get to the table.''
Schoeneweis acknowledged that the anniversary of Sept. 11 is an issue when considering strike dates.
``Obviously, that's a date that's been on everybody's minds,'' he said. ``Everybody has it engrained in their minds that hopefully we'll be able to play on that day.''
Schoeneweis, in his first season as the club's player representative, said he is still optimistic something can be worked out before it's too late.
``My gut feeling is what it's always been, that no one wants to miss any time,'' he said. ``It's time you can't get back. Hopefully everything we're doing and talking about will help us get something done.''
Closer Troy Percival (infection on left foot) is eligible to come off the disabled list on Saturday, leaving manager Mike Scioscia in a tough but enviable position: Which reliever goes down to Triple-A Salt Lake.
The two candidates are Scot Shields and Brendan Donnelly, both of whom have pitched well. Both have pitched in 12 games this season while also spending time in the minors. Shields is 2-1 with a 3.15 ERA and Donnelly is 0-0 with a 3.21 ERA. Shields would seem more likely to stay because of his ability to set up as well as pitch two or three innings at a time.
``(When making a decision) we'll look at roles in the bullpen, because it's going to be very important to maintain continuity,'' Scioscia said. ``With so many guys pitching well it gives us a tough decision, but it makes us a better club.''
As part of Major League Baseball's ``Triumphant Glory Series,'' the Angels are wearing commemorative uniforms from their 1982 season, voted on by the fans as their most memorable season, for their series vs. the A's.
The A's are wearing their uniforms from the 1972 season.
In 1982, the Angels won the A.L. West with a 93-69 record, their best regular-season record in team history. They lost the American League Championship series to the Milwaukee Brewers, three games to two.
JULY 24, 2002
GAME 99 - A’S AT ANGELS
ANAHEIM -- Angels manager Mike Scioscia was asked before Wednesday's game about going up against a pitching staff like that of the Oakland A's, regarded as among the best in the majors, to which he quickly replied: ``I think our staff stacks up well against theirs.''
Such a comment might have been met with smirks and giggles in Scioscia's first two years with the club, but not now. And Wednesday night his players backed him up with a 5-1 win over the A's before 25,240 at Edison Field.
The Angels beat A's pitcher Tim Hudson for the second time in a week, coming off a 10-4 victory in Oakland July 17. Orlando Palmeiro, who went into the game with a .400 (10 for 25) career average vs. Hudson, had the big hit, clearing the bases with a three-run double in the sixth inning.
Angels starter Aaron Sele took care of the rest, holding the A's offense to one run and six hits in seven innings to get the win. Reliever Brendan Donnelly retired all six batters he faced in the final two innings to finish it off.
With the win, the Angels moved one game ahead of the A's and Boston Red Sox for the American League wild-card lead. Because the Seattle Mariners lost, the Angels are one game back in the A.L. West.
Before last week, Hudson had dominated the Angels throughout his career, going 9-1 against them including a victory over them this season on April 12. Last year Hudson was almost unhittable against the Angels, going 5-0 with a 1.67 ERA in six starts. But the Angels scored five runs against him last week while beating him in Oakland, then did it again Wednesday. Hudson (7-9) lasted seven innings but gave up five runs and eight hits.
``Tim Hudson had outstanding stuff tonight but our guys were patient and hit some balls hard,'' Scioscia said. ``Our guys have competed well against him. He's been terrific against these guys but fortunately we got to him. I don't know if you can explain it.''
Sele (8-7) had not won since he shut out the Dodgers on June 29, but it wasn't all his fault. In his previous two starts before Wednesday's game, Sele got no run support as the Angels were shut out in both games, once by Kansas City and once by Oakland.
Sele, though, pitched good enough to win in both games, particulary the game against Oakland, when he gave up two runs in seven innings. It's been a notable turnaround for Sele, who was inconsistent early in the season but continued to work on getting comfortable.
``There have been no crazy adjustments,'' Sele said. ``It's all about trying to find a groove and stay in a groove.''
The Angels have been waiting patiently for Sele to find his rhythm, and it seems he's found it.
``We're seeing a guy pitch with the confidence he's had in the past,'' Scioscia said. ``And it's a great time for it. All the ingredients you talk about in a championship-caliber pitcher, that's what Aaron is. You're seeing it in location, in the break on his pitches and in the change of speeds that keeps hitters off balance.''
Sele relies heavily on his defense and Wednesday he got plenty of support.
In the second inning Palmeiro made a running catch of a liner by David Justice that appeared headed for the outfield wall. In the third inning, the Angels got a double play when Greg Myers struck out and catcher Jorge Fabregas threw out John Mabry trying to steal second.
Second baseman Adam Kennedy robbed Myers of a hit with a diving stop in the sixth. And finally, Garret Anderson stole a potential homer by Eric Chavez with a catch at the short fence in left field in the seventh.
The Angels offense got started when Kennedy beat out a bunt for a hit to lead off the third inning, then scored on David Eckstein's triple. Eckstein scored on a wild pitch to make it 2-0.
The Angels added three runs in the sixth, all on one swing. Anderson singled, Troy Glaus was hit by a pitch and Brad Fullmer singled to load the bases for Palmeiro with no outs. Palmeiro got ahead in the count 3-0, took a strike then ripped a 3-1 pitch into the right-center field gap for a double to score all three baserunners and give the Angels a 5-0 lead.
Now hitting .429 (12 for 28) against Hudson in his career, Palmeiro was asked to explain his success: ``I have no idea,'' he said.
ANAHEIM -- Angels manager Mike Scioscia said he talked with second baseman Adam Kennedy about Kennedy's apparent lack of hustle in Tuesday's game against the A's.
Kennedy didn't get a good jump out of the batter's box in the ninth inning when he hit a high popup off A's closer Billy Koch to shortstop Miguel Tejada, instead watching the ball sail into the air. So when Tejada dropped the ball for an error, Kennedy got only as far as first base. He was on second base when the game ended in a 2-1 Angels loss.
``I don't think it was a big issue,'' Scioscia said. ``Adam plays the game as hard as anybody in the league. For him not to break out of the box was uncharacteristic of him. Our team in general plays as hard as any I've been around.''
Kennedy offered no excuses for the play and did not have a response to what Koch said after the game: ``I'm just glad he was dogging it. He should have been at third as high as that one was. It saved the game for us. I appreciated it.''
Kennedy was in the starting lineup Wednesday against the A's, and in his first at-bat beat out a bunt single with a head-first dive into first base.
Scioscia said Tuesday's play has been forgotten. ``You won't see that happen very often. We're moving on.''
Jarrod Washburn has the longest winning streak by a pitcher in the majors this season with 12, but he is the first to admit he's been as lucky as he has been good.
``It takes luck, you can't win a game by yourself,'' said Washburn, who hasn't lost since April 13 and is 12-0 with a 2.85 ERA in 17 starts since. ``No matter who you are, you're going to make mistakes and you need your teammates to pick you up.''
That was evident in Washburn's last start, when he gave up five runs to the Seattle Mariners last Sunday but the Angels rallied for a 7-5 win.
``When you give up five runs, you're not supposed to win,'' Washburn said.
Washburn's next start is Saturday against the Mariners, when he'll be matched up against Joel Pineiro.
Right fielder Tim Salmon started as the designated hitter Wednesday in an effort by Scioscia to get him off his feet but keep his bat in the lineup. Left fielder Garret Anderson will be the DH today. ... Closer Troy Percival will throw a simulated game today and will be activated from the disabled list Saturday.
JULY 25, 2002
GAME 100 - A’S AT ANGELS
ANAHEIM -- If only the baseball season ended in July, the Angels might have won 10 division titles by now, played in a few World Series and had a couple championship rings. But it doesn't, which would explain the Angels' business-like mentality after Thursday afternoon's 5-4 win over the Oakland A's.
With an Edison Field crowd of 31,653 on its feet, Angels reliever Ben Weber got the A's Miguel Tejada to ground out for the final out of the game and left the Angels in position to move into first place in the American League West, pending a loss by the Mariners later Thursday night.
First place would have to wait, because the Mariners beat the Rangers to remain one game ahead of the Angels, setting up a weekend showdown between the two teams starting tonight in Seattle.
``When you pick up the paper on the last day of the season and you're in first place, that's when you get excited,'' Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. ``This season is such a monster. The only way to beat it is to have that day-to-day approach. We have a long-term idea of where we want to be, but the short-term process has to be prevalent to slay the beast.''
The Angels are content to conquer their demons one win at a time, and in Thursday's game it was one single at a time. All 13 of their hits were singles, but they came at the right times: The Angels scored all five runs with two outs.
David Eckstein matched a career-high with four hits, but the game-winner came from Garret Anderson. With the game tied at 4, A's manager Art Howe brought in closer Billy Koch to face Anderson with two on and two out in the bottom of the eighth.
Anderson reached out and poked a 96-mph fastball, popping it up to shallow left field. But with A's left fielder Adam Piatt playing deep, the ball fell in for an RBI single.
``When you're facing a guy like that, all you're trying to do is put the ball in play,'' said Anderson, who extended his hitting streak to 11 games. ``At that point in the game, he's going to have to beat me by striking me out. I just got lucky. The ball dropped where nobody was playing. He did his job; he got me to pop it up. But in (today's) paper, it's still a single.''
The Angels had to come from behind in this one, rallying from a 3-0 deficit. Tim Salmon's two-run single in the fifth got the Angels on the scoreboard, and after the A's scored a run in the top of the sixth, the Angels got RBI singles from Jorge Fabregas and Eckstein in the bottom of the inning to tie it up.
It then came down to a battle of bullpens, and the Angels were up to the task. After Angels starter Ramon Ortiz (5 1/3 innings, 4 runs, 8 hits) left the game, Scot Shield (3-1) threw 2 1/3 scoreless innings, setting the stage for Weber in the ninth.
Weber, taking over the closer's role while Troy Percival recovers from an infected scrape on his left foot, got three consecutive groundouts to end it and earn his fifth save.
After the game, the Angels quickly packed their bags, boarded a bus for the airport and flew north to Seattle. They won five of six from the Mariners and A's on the homestand, but in their minds they've accomplished nothing. At least not yet.
``There's so many games with those teams left, we've got to keep up,'' Eckstein said. ``If we stop now we're not going to be anywhere at the end of the season.''
However, it's obvious the Angels feel good about themselves, and that's something they didn't feel the last time they went to Seattle in April.
``This game is all about momentum,'' center fielder Darin Erstad said. ``Seattle and Oakland have had our number for a long while, but we've turned the tide a little. We're not where we want to be yet; it's a long process. Being tied for first place in July doesn't do you any good if you're not still there in September.''
If nothing else, it seems history has taught the Angels something.
ANAHEIM -- The Angels are poised to make a deal before the July 31 trading deadline, but the list of those who might be on their way to Anaheim is long as general manager Bill Stoneman sorts through his options and picks what he considers to be the best deal.
The list of relievers the Angels have talked about acquiring includes the Indians' Paul Shuey, the Royals' Roberto Hernandez, the Tigers' Juan Acevedo, the Brewers' Mike DeJean, the Blue Jays' Kelvim Escobar, the Devil Rays' Esteban Yan, the Cubs' Antonio Alfonseca and the Rockies' Todd Jones.
Stoneman must take into account each player's contract status, including how much money they are making and whether or not they are eligible for free agency after the season. Of that group, Hernandez is making the most money this season at $6 million, Acevedo the least at $850,000. The other six are making between $1 million and $3.5 million.
Among those the Angels could give up in a trade include pitcher Scott Schoeneweis, utility infielder Benji Gil and Triple-A pitcher Chris Bootcheck.
With the bullpen getting a boost recently with the pitching of Brendan Donnelly and Scot Shields, the possibility remains the Angels could trade for offensive help.
The Angels' bullpen hasn't allowed a run since Sunday, a span of 9 2/3 innings. Donnelly has been a big part of that and is making it difficult for manager Mike Scioscia to find a roster spot for Troy Percival, who will come off the disabled list on Saturday.
Donnelly had already been up with the Angels twice this season before being sent back to Triple-A Salt Lake. This time around, though, Donnelly has been outstanding. In his last seven games he has thrown 9 2/3 scoreless innings, allowing only two hits and striking out 15.
``His velocity is up, he's pounding the strikezone and he's pitching with much more confidence,'' Angels pitching coach Bud Black said of Donnelly's recent success. ``He's on his way to settling in. Everything was a new experience for him, going back to big league camp.''
Donnelly said earlier this season he might have tried to do too much, hoping to earn his teammates' respect.
``I have a lot more confidence this time,'' said Donnelly, who spent 10 seasons in the minor leagues before reaching the majors this season.
Percival threw a simulated game Thursday and will be activated from the disabled list Saturday. He’s been on the disabled list since July 12 because of an infected scrape on his left heel near his Achilles tendon.
The injury occurred during the All-Star break when Percival was climbing out of Lake Havasu onto his boat. Trying to prevent his son, Cole, from jumping into the water, Percival slipped and scrapped the back of his foot on the boat's propeller.
``I've been going to the river all my life,'' Percival said. ``You get scrapes all the time and you never think about it.''
This scrape, though, became infected, and because it was near the Achilles tendon with nothing between skin and the tendon, the infection needed to be taken care of immediately.
``I should have been sitting on my couch,'' Percival said.
Third baseman Troy Glaus was not in the starting lineup Thursday to rest according to Scioscia. Glaus has been a slump that has stretched nearly two months. Since the end of May, he is hitting .195 (32 for 165), dropping his season average to .244.
Scott Spiezio started Thursday's game at third base.
Catcher Jose Molina had an impressive first inning Thursday. First he threw out Terrence Long trying to steal second base. Later in the inning, Molina picked off Miguel Tejada at second.
Molina is 2 for 4 in throwing out would-be basestealers this season. His brother Bengie leads all major league catchers throwing out 46 percent (26 for 57) of baserunners attempting to steal.
Second baseman Adam Kennedy was ejected from the game after striking out in the seventh inning. Homeplate umpire Marty Foster thought Kennedy showed him up by drawing a line in the dirt with his bat after strike-three.