By Joe Haakenson, AngelsWin.com Contributor -
JULY 31, 2002
GAME 106 - RED SOX AT ANGELS
ANAHEIM -- Trying to hit Boston Red Sox pitcher Tim Wakefield's knuckleball, the Angels hitters looked like they were trying to hit a butterfly with a pencil. And coming one night after trying -- and failing -- to hit the hard-throwing Pedro Martinez could not have helped their cause, either.
In fact, when Scott Spiezio doubled with one out in the fifth inning Tuesday, it marked the first time the Angels had moved a baserunner as far as second base in 14 innings, going back to the series opener on Monday.
The Angels managed a run on Troy Glaus' eighth-inning home run, but it was one run too little in a 2-1 Red Sox victory before 28,227 at Edison Field.
With the loss the Angels fell two games behind the first-place Seattle Mariners in the American League West, and into a tie with the Red Sox for the A.L. wild-card lead.
The Angels had one last chance in the bottom of the ninth when Red Sox closer Ugeth Urbina balked Adam Kennedy to second with two outs. David Eckstein hit a hard grounder to the hole at shortstop, but third baseman Shea Hillenbrand saved the game with a diving stop, throwing out Eckstein at first to end it.
The loss spoiled another solid outing by Angels rookie starter John Lackey (2-2), who gave up one run and six hits in 6 1/3 innings.
``You don't get great pitching performances like that all the time,'' Angels left fielder Garret Anderson said. ``When you don't take advantage of it, it's a little tough.''
They didn't take advantage of it because Wakefield and the three relievers who followed him shut the Angels down.
``What you have to do is put pressure on clubs every inning,'' Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. ``We weren't able to do that tonight.''
Wakefield's knuckleball floated and danced, traveling between 60-70 mph. He mixed in a 78-mph fastball that looked like it was 90-mph compared to the knuckleball, as the Angels tried desperately to make solid contact.
Wakefield, who pitched in relief three days earlier, was finished after five innings. But the Angels hitters couldn't recover against the Red Sox bullpen and fell for the second time in three games in their first series against them this season.
The winning run was scored by baseball's all-time runs leader Rickey Henderson, even if it took an assist from first-base umpire Mike DiMuro.
Leading off the sixth inning, Henderson tried to check his swing on a 3-2 pitch. Replays showed Henderson's bat crossed the plate, but DiMuro ruled no swing on an appeal, Henderson drawing a walk.
Henderson took third on Johnny Damon's single to right field, and scored on Nomar Garciaparra's sacrifice fly to center, where Darin Erstad had to go to his knees to make the catch.
``I don't know whether he swung or not, it was close and I didn't get it,'' Lackey said of facing Henderson. ``With a guy that's been around that long, it would have to be pretty obvious for him to get rung up there. He's earned that respect. To me, the bigger thing was the next hitter (Damon), giving up a two-strike hit.''
The Red Sox added an unearned run in the eighth inning after Glaus' error on Garciaparra's grounder to third. Garciaparra eventually scored on a sacrifice fly by Brian Daubach.
Glaus got made up for his error with a towering home run in the bottom of the eighth, his 17th of the season but only his second in the month of July.
The Angels had their scoring chances but went 0 for 5 with runners in scoring position. Erstad was the batter on two of those occasions, flying out with the bases loaded and two out in the fifth, and grounding into a double play with runners on first and second and one out in the seventh.
ANAHEIM -- The Angels got help where they felt they needed it most, agreeing to trade for Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Alex Ochoa only hours before Wednesday's nonwaiver trading deadline.
In addition to Ochoa, the Angels got minor league catcher Sal Fasano. In return, the Brewers got backup catcher Jorge Fabregas and two players to be named later. By rule, the players to be named later cannot be players on the active major league roster.
In the past week or so the Angels deemed outfield depth their biggest need, above adding a reliever to the bullpen. Orlando Palmeiro was the only backup outfielder on the major league roster and the outfielders in the minor league system are too inexperienced to be counted on in a pennant race.
In Ochoa, 30, the Angels get an experienced major league outfielder who hit .256 with six homers and 21 RBIs with the Brewers this season. Ochoa has played in the majors for five different teams starting in 1995. His best season came in 2000 with the Reds, when he hit .316 with 13 homers and 56 RBIs. Going into this season he was a career .281 hitter.
``He gives you a lot in all areas,'' Angels general manager Bill Stoneman said. ``He's a good defender, he has a good arm, he plays the tough right field position and plays it well. He's a right-handed bat, which complements Palmeiro off the bench.
``From a realistic standpoint, were we going to find an outfielder that pushed one of our outfielders the bench? The answer is no. He accepts his role with a club and he's a team guy. He's got that reputation, and that's important to us, especially a club like ours that is an egoless club.''
Ochoa will join the club today in Anaheim before tonight's game against the Yankees. He said he's fine with his role as a reserve outfielder and pinch hitter.
``I've done that a lot in my career,'' Ochoa said during a conference call. ``Coming in they've got three great outfielders. I knew that from the get-go.''
Ochoa's new teammates were generally pleased with the move, even if it wasn't a blockbuster.
``It's not the big, earth-shattering stuff,'' right fielder Tim Salmon said. ``But we didn't need something earth-shattering right now. It didn't seem like we had a lot of holes to fill. It's good, it gives us something we didn't have and we didn't lose much.''
The Angels felt they could part with Fabregas because of the play of catcher Jose Molina. Molina spent all season at Triple-A Salt Lake before joining the major league club July 17 to replace his injured brother, Bengie.
Bengie is expected to be activated from the disabled list today, giving the Angels both Molina brothers on the active major league roster for the first time.
``I feel bad for Jorge, he's a good friend of mine,'' Bengie said. ``But they liked the way (Jose) has played and they're giving him a chance. I'm very excited we'll be on the same team for a while.''
Jose went into Wednesday's game hitting .304 and had thrown out 33 percent (2 of 6) of baserunners trying to steal. Angels pitchers had a 3.33 ERA with Jose catching, better even than Bengie's 3.69.
``I just hope they keep me here,'' Jose said.
Ochoa took Fabregas' spot in the roster, but the Angels will have to clear another spot today to make room for Bengie. Infielder Jose Nieves is likely to be sent down, but since he is out of options, he would have to clear waivers before he could join Triple-A Salt Lake.
Fabregas, who hit .193 with no homers and eight RBIs in 35 games with the Angels this season, said he was ``surprised and shocked'' to get traded from a pennant contender to a team 22 ½ games out in the N.L. Central.
``I understand baseball moves, I've been through this before,'' said Fabregas, who is headed for his eighth major league team. ``Obviously I'm disappointed to go from a team playing for first place to a team that isn't contending.
``I felt like I was a big part of the team. I went through the struggles last year and I wanted to be a part of it in the good times.''
JULY 30, 2002
GAME 105 - RED SOX AT ANGELS
ANAHEIM -- An anticipated pitchers duel between the Angels' Ramon Ortiz and the Boston Red Sox's Pedro Martinez lasted four innings Tuesday night, ending when the Angels' defense shot itself in the foot.
The Red Sox turned two Angels errors into four runs in the fifth inning, and added another unearned run in the sixth after a third Angel error. Not that Martinez needed any help. The Red Sox ace blanked the Angels on two hits through eight innings in Boston's 6-0 win before 32,812 at Edison Field.
The loss knocked the Angels out of first place in the American League West, one game behind the Seattle Mariners, who won Tuesday. The Angels lead the wild-card race by one game over the Red Sox.
Jason Varitek and Shea Hillenbrand homered for the Red Sox, but this game was hardly about offense. The Angels defense unraveled in the fifth inning, which was unusual considering they went into the game with 56 errors this season, tied with Minnesota for the fewest in the league.
But errors by shortstop David Eckstein and first baseman Brad Fullmer in the fifth and catcher Jose Molina in the sixth let down Ortiz (9-8), who was out of the game after six innings.
``It was very uncharacteristic for us to shoot ourselves in the foot like that,'' Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. ``You can't give a club as talented as the Red Sox an extra out, let alone three extra outs. We really didn't give ourselves a chance tonight.''
Varitek's homer in the fourth inning had the Red Sox leading, 1-0, entering the fifth inning when Brian Daubach walked. Tony Clark followed with what should have been a routine double-play ball, but Eckstein booted it and the Red Sox had runners on first and second with nobody out.
``I just tried to stop and get over to the base,'' Eckstein explained. ``I probably did it a little too early. It can't happen. I've got to make that play, bottom line. If I make that play it's a totally different game.''
The next batter, Rey Sanchez, tried to bunt the runners over. He missed a 0-1 pitch and Daubach was caught too far off second. But when Molina threw to second, Daubach took off for third and made it safely.
The Angels still had a chance to get out of it because they got another potential double-play ball when Sanchez hit a grounder to Scott Spiezio at third base. Spiezio held Daubach at third, then threw to second for the force. Second baseman Adam Kennedy's relay to first was in time but it nicked off the top of Fullmer's glove at first base for an error, allowing Daubach to stroll home.
``With the ground ball to Spiezio, we're looking at a triple play,'' Scioscia said, ``because we had a good chance to get Daubach at home.''
Scioscia and Ortiz both said Ortiz wasn't affected by the lack of support behind him. However, after the errors Ortiz gave up three consecutive doubles -- one each to Johnny Damon, Trot Nixon and Nomar Garciaparra -- and the Red Sox had a 5-0 lead.
Fullmer is considered below average defensively, but he got the start at first base because slumping third baseman Troy Glaus got the night off. Spiezio, who has played exceptional defense at first this season, started in Glaus' spot at third.
``Brad Fullmer's played excellent defense for us,'' Scioscia said. ``We won't hesitate to put him out there again.''
The Angels' defensive problems, though, didn't stop there. Molina dropped an easy foul popup hit by Hillenbrand leading off the sixth. Given another chance, Hillenbrand hit the next pitch over the fence in left for a 6-0 Red Sox lead.
It may as well have been 16-0 with Martinez (14-2) on the mound. Martinez walked Tim Salmon in the first, allowed a second-inning single by Fullmer and a fourth-inning single by Darin Erstad. After Erstad's hit, Martinez retired the final 17 Angel batters he faced before handing the ball over to closer Ugeth Urbina for the ninth.
Martinez has won seven consecutive decisions and has thrown 16 consecutive scoreless innings dating back to July 19.
``Pedro was on tonight, he was dominating,'' Eckstein said. ``He threw a curveball that started behind me and ended up over the plate. It was a pretty good one.''
ANAHEIM -- With the non-waiver trading deadline set for today at 1 p.m. (PDT), the Angels continue to talk to teams about possible deals. Their targets remain a reliever and a right-handed-hitting outfielder.
The Angels could fill both spots in a deal with the Milwaukee Brewers, who have two players the Angels are interested in -- right-handed reliever Mike DeJean and outfielder Alex Ochoa. But with the way the Angels have played lately, they remain confident they are good enough to win this season without making a move.
``There are still some possibilities but I'm fine with the way the club is,'' general manager Bill Stoneman said. ``We have a very good ballclub the way it stands.''
The work of the bullpen in recent weeks, particularly from Ben Weber, Scot Shields and Brendan Donnelly, has kept the Angels from feeling desperate to add a reliever.
``It's raised everybody's confidence,'' Stoneman said. ``That's the difference over the last couple weeks.''
The bigger concern is the lack of outfield depth, but Stoneman pointed out that making a move after today's deadline is possible. The only difference is that players must first clear waivers. And with the unsettled labor situation, Stoneman said he believes more players might slip through waivers unclaimed than in the past.
Manager Mike Scioscia said there is no urgency to make a deal, but adding depth to the roster would help.
``There's a lot of things Bill has been working on,'' Scioscia said. ``But to get the right guy to help you, it's difficult. If we get a guy that can help us, that would be great. If we don't I feel very confident in the guys we have.''
Hitless in his past 10 at-bats and batting just .203 with one homer and nine RBIs in July, third baseman Troy Glaus was not in the starting lineup Tuesday against the Red Sox.
Angels manager Mike Scioscia said he wanted to give Glaus a chance to ``catch his breath'' and that it had nothing to do with the Red Sox's starting pitcher -- Pedro Martinez.
``This is about Troy,'' Scioscia said. ``It's just coincidence (that Martinez was pitching).''
Reliever Dennis Cook, on the disabled list with a torn labrum in his left shoulder, played catch on Tuesday and is expected to throw again Monday. Cook was placed on the disabled list July 13 but decided against season-ending surgery, hoping to rehab the shoulder and come back sometime in July.
Catcher Bengie Molina, on the disabled list with a partially torn left hamstring, started for Single-A Rancho Cucamonga Tuesday in a rehab assignment. Depending on how he comes out of it today, he could be activated by the weekend.