By Joe Haakenson, AngelsWin.com Contributor -
AUG. 4, 2002
GAME 110 - YANKEES AT ANGELS
ANAHEIM -- The New York Yankees lead the majors in home runs, but sometimes location is even more important than how far the ball is hit. That was the case Sunday afternoon, when it was a 90-foot squibber that was the difference against the Angels in the Yankees' 12-inning, 7-5 victory before a sellout crowd of 43,455 at Edison Field.
With the score tied at 5 in the top of the 12th inning, Alfonso Soriano came to the plate with the bases loaded and two outs and hit one off the end of the bat against Angels reliever Scot Shields, the ball bouncing slowly towards second baseman Adam Kennedy. Kennedy fielded the ball on the run, and with his glove shoveled it to first baseman Scott Spiezio.
First base umpire John Hirschbeck, however, ruled Soriano safe and Rondell White scored to give the Yankees a lead. When Spiezio fell to the ground in disbelief, Jorge Posada, who was on second base to begin the play, broke for the plate.
Shields screamed at Spiezio to throw home, but when Spiezio didn't respond, Shields took the ball out of Spiezio's glove and threw home too late to get Posada.
``I thought I screamed pretty loud,'' Shields said. ``I think he might have been screaming louder.''
Though the extra run ultimately didn't matter, Spiezio said it never should have happened.
``I lost track of the situation,'' he said. ``I was looking at (Hirschbeck) and hoping so hard for him to call the guy out. When he said safe, it was like I got shot.''
The Angels and Yankees split their four-game series, and with Sunday's loss the Angels missed a chance to gain ground on the American West-leading Mariners, who lost Sunday, and remain three games out. The Angels are tied with Boston in the wild-card race.
Shields took the blame for putting the Angels in that situation to begin with. The Angels bullpen had thrown 6 2/3 scoreless innings entering the 12th inning when Shields couldn't throw strikes.
With one out, he walked White and Posada, but then got a big out when he struck out Derek Jeter. Up next was Enrique Wilson, who came to the plate with a .215 average. With MVP-candidate Soriano on deck, Shields wanted to throw strikes. But he couldn't.
``I thought that was a pretty good sequence of pitches, I found my release point,'' Shields said of facing Jeter. ``Somehow, I lost it again.''
His pitch to Soriano -- low and away -- was a good one. But Soriano hit it in the right place.
``It was perfect placement with that ball,'' Spiezio said. ``If he hits it harder, he's out. If he hits it softer, he's out. Closer to me or closer to the pitcher, he's out. And it was the wrong guy hitting, because he has incredible speed.''
The Angels had their chances before the 12th inning, putting a runner in scoring position with less than two outs in both the ninth and 10th innings. In the ninth, the Angels had runners on first and second with one out when manager Mike Scioscia sent up Garret Anderson to pinch hit. Anderson was not in the starting lineup for the first time this season because of a cramp in his right hamstring.
But Anderson struck out on three pitches. After Troy Glaus walked to load the bases, Alex Ochoa, in his second game as an Angel, hit into an inning-ending force play.
In the 10th, Kennedy singled and was sacrificed to second but was left stranded. Mike Stanton (5-1), the fourth of five Yankees relievers, pitched 2 2/3 scoreless innings to get the win.
Both teams began the game as though scoring runs would not be a problem, as Angels starter Ramon Ortiz and Yankees starter David Wells struggled. The game was tied, 5-5, after two innings.
``It was like a heavyweight fight there for a while,'' Angels right fielder Tim Salmon said, ``with both teams going to-to-toe.''
The Yankees took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first on Jason Giambi's RBI double, but the Angels scored three in the bottom of the inning on Troy Glaus' three-run homer.
The Yankees came back with four runs in the top of the second inning to go up, 5-3, getting a little help from the Angels defense. Glaus' error on White's groundball helped the Yankees get rolling, as two of the runs in the inning were unearned.
The Angels came back in the bottom of the second with two runs to tie the game at 5, one coming home on Salmon's sacrifice fly and the other on a two-out single by Shawn Wooten. The Angels might have had more but White made a spectacular catch going towards the left-field corner on a liner by Glaus, ending the inning.
Ortiz and Wells were finished early, Wells leaving after two innings having allowed five runs and six hits. Ortiz stuck around a little longer, going 4 1/3 innings and allowing five runs (three earned) and nine hits.
The bullpens of both teams took it from there, and both did exceptionally well. Mike Thurman, Jeff Weaver, Steve Karsay, Stanton and Ramiro Mendoza held the Angels scoreless over the game's final 10 innings.
For the Angels, Brendan Donnelly, Ben Weber, Troy Percival, Al Levine and Scot Shields held the Yankees scoreless after taking over from Ortiz in the fifth, until the Yankees scored in the 12th.
ANAHEIM -- It became known as ``The Stretch.''
Twenty games the Angels played against the five teams in the American League, other than themselves, with a winning record. It started on July 15 with two games against the Twins, continued with two series each against the A's and Mariners, and finished with the seven-game homestand vs. the Red Sox and Yankees.
Final tally: Angels 12, opponents 8.
``Our team is good enough to beat those teams,'' right fielder Tim Salmon said. ``Our team is good enough to play in the postseason. But the important thing is to keep it going. We've been doing it up to now, but now's not the time to relax.''
Manager Mike Scioscia refuses to get caught up in looking at stretches of games being any more important than any other stretch. Even the last 20 games.
``It wasn't critical to look at the 20-game stretch and say we had to step up and do something special,'' he said. ``Just like we're not going to look at the next stretch and take a breather. We didn't elevate our game for the 20-game stretch, we played the same level we've been playing all year. It's important to stress to these guys not to get out of their game because a stretch of games might make you perceive we have to. That approach is what has led us to play at this level.''
Scioscia usually juggles his lineup when the team is facing a left-handed pitcher, but Sunday's lineup against Yankees lefty David Wells had a notable omission.
Garret Anderson was not in the starting lineup for the first time all season because of a cramp in his right hamstring. He sustained the injury running the bases Saturday night. It was the first time Anderson did not start since Aug. 29 of last season, but that was to tend to a family matter.
Anderson said he couldn't remember the last time he missed a game because of an injury.
``I can't remember,'' said Anderson, whose consecutive-games played streak was extended to 139 because he pinch hit, striking out, in the ninth inning. ``It's (Scioscia's) decision, ultimately, but it was the smart thing to do.''
Anderson has played at least 150 games in each of the past six seasons and has never been on the disabled list. He is listed as day-to-day but neither Anderson nor Scioscia knew if Anderson would play tonight.
In his second game at Triple-A Salt Lake since being acquired from the Milwaukee Brewers, catcher Sal Fasano hit three solo home runs Saturday night in a victory over the Iowa Cubs. Fasano and Alex Ochoa came to the Angels in Wednesday's trade for catcher Jorge Fabregas and two minor league players to be named. ... The Angels and Yankees sold out all four games of the series at Edison Field, with a combined attendance total of 173,639. It is the highest total for a four-game home series in Angels history, including the years the team played in Anaheim Stadium, which had a capacity of around 60,000. ... The home run by Yankees right fielder Raul Mondesi Sunday was his 20th of the season. It marks the eighth consecutive season Mondesi has hit at least 20 homers. ... Yankees DH Jason Giambi left Sunday's game for a pinch hitter in the ninth inning because of soreness in his lower back.