By Joe Haakenson, AngelsWin.com Contributor -
AUG. 29, 2002
GAME 133 - DEVIL RAYS AT ANGELS
ANAHEIM -- The 100-or-so members of the media in attendance created a playoff atmosphere before the Angels' game Thursday. But then the public address announcer introduced the lineup of the visiting Tampa Bay Devil Rays, owners of baseball's worst record, and it was clear that the game itself was little more than window dressing.
That the Angels' 6-1 victory put them in the wild-card lead in the American League didn't seem to matter much to the fans in the right field bleachers who chanted ``Strike! Strike! Strike!'' while littering the field with beach balls in the seventh inning. Same with the fan behind homeplate who caught a foul ball before throwing it onto the infield, which incited others to do the same.
Fans also booed during the seventh-inning stretch rendition of ``Take Me Out To The Ballgame.'' In the ninth inning, fans started littering the field with trash, and the PA announcer warned that the Angels could forfeit the game if they didn't stop.
Angels starting pitcher Kevin Appier, however, was not distracted by any of it, even though one fan's throw from the upper deck missed him by only a few feet. Appier threw one of his best games of the season, holding the Devil Rays to one run and five hits in 7 1/3 innings.
The only run Appier allowed came on a solo homer by Ben Grieve in the eighth inning, snapping Appier's scoreless-innings streak at 18. Appier struck out a season-high eight batters.
Appier (13-9) has been the Angels' best pitcher in the past three weeks. In his last four starts, Appier is 4-0 with a 0.69 ERA, having given up two runs and 13 hits in 26 innings.
He got a boost from an offense that scored four runs in the first inning and had 11 hits in all, including three each by Garret Anderson and Troy Glaus.
The Angels went into the game tied with Seattle for the A.L. wild-card lead, knowing that anything could happen if there was a strike, including today's standings being used to determine playoff teams.
Angels manager Mike Scioscia, though, refused to manage Thursday's game as if it were the last game of the season, just in case.
``I'm not going to do anything without keeping the whole season in mind,'' Scioscia said before the game. ``If I put a player at risk for injury, we certainly could lose a lot more than we could gain. That's irresponsible.''
The actions of some fans were not well-received by the Angels.
``You'd expect the fans to have a little more class,'' Angels player representative Scott Schoeneweis said. ``Throwing things on the field ... let's play the game. We're in a pennant race and we're your team, supposedly.''
Angels right fielder Orlando Palmeiro was close to many objects that were thrown, though he wasn't hit by anything.
``Everything you can imagine,'' Palmeiro said when asked what fans were throwing. ``Water bottles, someone threw a pizza box. Toilet paper. Yeah, you start worrying a little bit. I don't know if they meant any harm, but something could hit you in the eye.''
Scioscia also expressed displeasure.
``I was disappointed,'' he said. ``I know the fans are frustrated, we're frustrated, the players are frustrated. But if you want to voice your opinion, let's not throw baseballs from the upper deck.''
About the ball that was thrown from the upper deck and nearly hit him, Appier said: ``I hope they weren't gunning for me. That wasn't cool.''
The Angels' four-run first inning against Devil Rays starter Tanyon Sturtze (2-14) might have made them comfortable, except that one night earlier they blew a four-run lead heading into the seventh inning.
David Eckstein started it off with a single but was forced at second by Darin Erstad. Erstad took second on a balk, and after Orlando Palmeiro walked, Anderson doubled to left-center, scoring Erstad.
Glaus followed with a two-run double and one out later, Brad Fullmer singled home Glaus for a 4-0 lead.
Back to back doubles by Anderson and Glaus in the third gave the Angels a 5-0 lead. For Anderson, the double was his 49th of the season. He's on pace for 60 doubles, which hasn't been accomplished by any major leaguer since 1936.
Eckstein's sacrifice fly in the eighth put the Angels up, 6-1.
Appier took care of the rest. After giving up a leadoff single to Chris Gomez in the third, Appier retired 12 in a row. Reliever Scot Shields pitched the final 1 2/3 innings.
ANAHEIM -- Angels reliever Scott Schoeneweis was mobbed by reporters before Thursday's game against the Devil Rays, and no one asked him about giving up two runs the night before in the Angels' loss.
Schoeneweis doubles as the Angels' player representative to the players union, a job for which he didn't volunteer. Schoeneweis is the club's only college graduate (Duke) and his age (28) and status with the team (began the season in the starting rotation) made him the perfect fit.
``It started out with some players saying, `Hey, what do you think about doing this?' In a joking way,'' Schoeneweis said. ``Eventually, it was, `Do it.' ''
Fellow pitcher Jarrod Washburn was a candidate for the job, but Washburn implored Schoeneweis to assume the duties. Washburn is Schoeneweis' ``assistant.''
``I won't say I've enjoyed it,'' Schoeneweis said. ``It's been a learning experience.
``I was a fit because of my place on the team. I've been here long enough but not too long. Because the deal will immediately affect my generation of players, they thought I was the right choice.''
Angels manager Mike Scioscia was the Dodgers' player rep in 1985 and can understand what Schoeneweis has gone through.
``It's mentally taxing,'' Scioscia said. ``There are a lot of issues day-to-day other than worrying about getting hitters out on the mound.''
Because Thursday's game between the Angels and Devil Rays would be the last one before a strike, there was an inordinate number of media members present. The Angels gave out 57 one-day media passes in addition to those who cover the team on a regular basis, including some from national outlets, pushing the total number of media members to about 120.
One who didn't need a pass was Dodgers vice president Tommy Lasorda, who said he believes most people side with the owners this time, unlike during other work stoppages.
``When you look at the average salary of $2.3 million, the guy who works all day to raise his family, he can't comprehend that,'' Lasorda said.
Reliever Ben Weber, hit by a one-hopper on the right shin in Wednesday's game, had X-rays that were negative. He's listed as day-to-day. ... Right fielder Tim Salmon (bone bruise in left hand) swung the bat Thursday but still wasn't able to take live batting practice. ... Reliever Dennis Cook threw in a rehab stint for Single-A Rancho Cucamonga. Cook, who has a partially torn labrum in his left (pitching) shoulder, is expected to join the Angels roster on Sunday, when rosters can be expanded to 40.
In case you missed yesterday's Classic Rewind, here's the game notes from August 28th below.
AUG. 28, 2002
GAME 132 - DEVIL RAYS AT ANGELS
ANAHEIM – Angels starter Jarrod Washburn and the bullpen have been so good this season, maybe they were due for a rough one.
The Angels blew a 5-1 lead and eventually lost in 10 innings, 8-5, to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays before 17,740 at Edison Field.
Washburn pitched well enough to win, taking a 5-1 lead into the seventh, when he tired. He gave up two runs in the seventh, and Scott Schoeneweis gave up two runs in the eighth, without retiring a single batter, allowing the Devil Rays to tie the game at 5.
The Devil Rays then scored three runs in the 10th off Al Levine to take the victory, knocking the Angels four games behind red-hot Oakland in the A.L. West. Oakland has won 15 games in a row.
Because Seattle also lost, the Angels are still one-half game up in the wild-card race.