By Joe Haakenson, AngelsWin.com Contributor -
SEPT. 11, 2002
GAME 145 - A’S AT ANGELS
ANAHEIM – For the Angels, Wednesday night's game against the Oakland A's was all about opportunity.
Opportunity to move closer to first place in the American League West.
Opportunity to increase their lead in the wild-card race.
Opportunity to become the fifth team in Angels history to win 90 games in a season.
After a superb performance by the bullpen and a clutch hit by Shawn Wooten, the Angels rallied for a 6-5 win before a spirited and patriotic crowd of 34,302 at Edison Field.
The win moved the Angels to within one game of the A's in the West, with an opportunity to tie them for first with a victory tonight. They also increased their lead in the wild-card race to six games over Seattle with 17 to play.
For the A's, it's the first time they have lost back-to-back games since Aug. 11 and 12. They had won 22 of 23 heading into the series with the Angels, but have lost two of the first three games with one to play.
The Angels rallied from deficits of 4-0 and 5-4, eventually holding off the A's because of the performance by the bullpen. After giving up an RBI single to Miguel Tejada with one out in the fifth, Angels starter John Lackey was removed from the game.
Scot Shields (4-3) replaced Lackey and threw 2 2/3 hitless innings, allowing only one baserunner when he hit Ramon Hernandez with a pitch. Hernandez was erased on a double-play ball.
Ben Weber pitched a perfect eighth and Troy Percival a perfect ninth for his 37th save. The three relievers combined for 4 2/3 hitless innings.
``I'm proud to be in the bullpen with these guys,'' said Percival, who struck out Terrence Long to end it.
Wooten led the Angels' 14-hit attack with three doubles. The first two came against A's starter Cory Lidle, a friend and teammate of Wooten's at South Hill High.
``We had lunch (Wednesday) but I didn't know I'd be in there,'' Wooten said. ``It was fun. I've known him for a long time and I knew it would be a good battle.''
Wooten's big hit came against A's reliever Jeff Tam in the seventh after the Angels had already stranded a runner at third with less than two outs in three separate innings.
The Angels also had stranded five baserunners in scoring position and were one out away from adding another when Wooten drilled the first pitch he saw from Tam down the left-field line. Adam Kennedy scored easily from second and Scott Spiezio raced around from first to give the Angels their first lead of the night.
``Different guys step up every day,'' Wooten said. ``(Tuesday) it was Spiezio. (Wednesday) it was me. (Today) it will be somebody else.''
Wooten's hit also kept the Angels from looking back at those missed chances.
``We really weren't as effective offensively as we could have been, and we still got the win,'' Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. ``That's a plus. You want to put pressure on a club in every inning and hopefully you break through. We did that.''
Lackey had won his previous three starts but it was evident right from the start he wasn't at his best on Wednesday. He lasted only 4 1/3 innings, only the third time in 15 starts with the Angels this season he has failed to go six innings.
He gave up five runs, the first time since joining the rotation he has allowed more than four earned runs in a game.
The A's took a 4-0 lead in the third inning with four runs, the last two coming on Jermaine Dye's two-run homer.
The Angels, who wasted a first-and-third, no-out situation in the second inning, got the four runs back in the fourth inning off Lidle.
Brad Fullmer opened the inning with a double and scored on a single by Scott Spiezio. Shawn Wooten doubled Spiezio to third and Bengie Molina drove home Spiezio with a sacrifice fly, cutting the A's lead to 4-3.
With Jackie Autry, the wife of former Angels owner Gene Autry, waving a Rally Monkey from a suite adjacent to the press box, Adam Kennedy followed with a bloop double off the glove of the shortstop Tejada in shallow left-center, scoring Wooten to tie the game at 4.
It didn't stay tied for long. Lackey walked Ray Durham leading off the fifth. Durham stole second and went to third on Hatteberg's groundout to first. With the infield in, Tejada ripped a single to left to score Durham and put the A's back on top, 5-4, putting an end to Lackey's outing.
The Angels missed scoring chances in the fifth and sixth innings but made up for in the seventh to win for the 12th time in 13 games.
ANAHEIM -- Jarrod Washburn will make his start as scheduled on Friday against the Texas Rangers. The Angels had been considering moving Washburn up a day to start today against the A's, but considering the circumstances involving a police investigation, they thought it best to keep him in his normal rotation.
Mickey Calloway, who replaced the injured Aaron Sele in the rotation Aug. 25, will start tonight on his regular four-days rest.
``I think (the decision) was affected by a lot of things,'' manager Mike Scioscia said. ``We're going to wait and see how guys come out of starts. Right now through this time around it's better to have Jarrod on four-days rest will all things considered.''
Washburn, 17-5 with a 3.32 ERA, will still get four more starts this season, giving him a chance to become the Angels' first 20-game winner since Nolan Ryan won 22 in 1974.
Right fielder Tim Salmon was hit by a pitch on the left hand Tuesday night -- the same hand that was hit Aug. 10 and forced him out of the starting lineup for 22 games. However, it got him in a different spot on the hand and he was OK.
Salmon, though, was not in the lineup on Wednesday.
``It's just a day off,'' Scioscia said. ``We've got a lot of lefties coming up and so it was a good night to get him off his feet.''
Since coming back from the injury on Sept. 5, Salmon is hitting .176 (3 for 17).
``Whatever it takes to win; I have to get my stroke back,'' Salmon said of riding the bench. ``I'd be willing to bet if I was swinging the bat well I'd be in the lineup every day. I'm fine with that. This ain't the time of year to be making waves about those things.''
Third baseman Troy Glaus also wasn't in the starting lineup, but it was health-related. Glaus' ring and middle fingers on his left hand are still sore, the result of a head-first slide into second base Monday night. His status is day-to-day.
* Catching up, here are the September 9th and 10th game recaps from the previous two days.
SEPT. 9, 2002
GAME 143 - A’S AT ANGELS
ANAHEIM – Oakland’s Tim Hudson and the Angels’ Kevin Appier both pitched well enough to win in the first game of a big three-game series that could go a long way in deciding the A.L. West champion.
But in the end, Hudson was just a little better, and the A’s came away with a 2-1 win before 28,145 at Edison Field.
Hudson gave up one run and six hits in 7 1/3 innings, the only blemish being Garret Anderson’s solo homer leading off the fifth inning. It was Anderson’s 25th home run of the season.
Appier gave up two runs and five hits in 6 2/3 innings, but two of those hits were home runs, solo blasts by Jermaine Dye and Terrence Long.
The loss kept the Angels from moving to within one game of the first-place A’s in the A.L. West, instead falling three games out.
SEPT. 10, 2002
GAME 144 - A’S AT ANGELS
ANAHEIM – Angels manager Mike Scioscia preaches a simple approach and short-term focus until he turns blue in the face, but his club had not faced a distraction quite like the one presented them Tuesday.
After learning during a pregame meeting that their top pitcher and popular teammate Jarrod Washburn is being investigated for allegations of sexual assault, they took the field for batting practice in preparation for their game against the Oakland A's, owners of the best record in the American League and winners of 23 of their previous 24 games.
The Angels responded with one of their biggest wins of the season, a 5-2 victory before 35,323 at Edison Field.
Angels starting pitcher Ramon Ortiz (13-9) didn't allow a hit until Ray Durham's one-out single in the sixth, handing the ball and a lead to the bullpen to start the seventh. Four Angels relievers, including closer Troy Percival (36th save), combined for three scoreless innings to finish it off.
Scott Spiezio's two-run homer in the first inning off A's starter Ted Lilly was the first of his two key hits as the Angels moved to within two games of the American League West-leading A's. Because Seattle lost to Texas, the Angels' lead in the wild card-race grew to five games over the Mariners with 18 to play.
The Angels held a precarious 3-2 lead going into the bottom of the eighth when Spiezio ripped a two-out, RBI double to left-center off A's reliever Ricardo Rincon, just beyond the reach of a diving Terrence Long to put the Angels up, 4-2. Before then, the Angels were 0 for 8 with runners in scoring position in the game.
Garret Anderson followed with a double to drive in Spiezio for a 5-2 lead. For Anderson, it was his major league-leading 53rd double of the season.
``I knew they would come out and play hard and play well,'' Scioscia said. ``They're real good at focusing on what we need. Obviously (Washburn's situation) is something we're going to have to work through. The fact of the matter is their passion for the game brings them to this level every night.''
Ortiz didn't allow a hit through five innings, retiring the side in every inning but the second, when he walked two. He got the first out in the sixth before Durham grounded single to right to break up the no-hit bid.
The Edison Field crowd gave Ortiz a brief ovation, but it was quieted quickly when Long hit Oritz's next pitch over the fence in right to cut the Angels' lead to 3-2. Ortiz walked two more in the inning but got out of it with the lead intact.
The Angels took an early lead against Lilly, who was coming off the disabled list and had not pitched in a game since July 20. He was on a 50-pitch limit and found trouble right away.
David Eckstein led off the Angels' half of the first with a single, and one out later Spiezio hit a two-run homer to left to put the Angels up, 2-0. Spiezio and Lilly have a history -- Lilly hit Spiezio with a pitch in the helmet last season as a member of the Yankees. It was in retaliation for Ortiz hitting Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter an inning before. Spiezio pointed his bat at Lilly but didn't charge the mound. Lilly was later suspended.
``I think it was on everybody else's mind except for mine,'' Spiezio said. ``The ball skimmed my helmet but didn't hurt me. Before the game all the guys were talking about it.''
Angels relievers Brendan Donnelly, Scott Schoeneweis and Ben Weber combined to set up for Percival, but it wasn't easy. In the eighth inning, walks issued by Schoeneweis and then Weber forced Scioscia to bring in Percival.
But with two on and two out, Percival got David Justice on a fly to center to end the inning. Percival retired the side in order in the ninth.
``This team has had a lot of things to overcome and this is just another one,'' Spiezio said of Washburn's situation. ``I wasn't worried about it (being a distraction). I knew we'd be fine.''
ANAHEIM -- The Angels have been here before. In the middle of a pennant race in 1997, leadoff hitter Tony Phillips was arrested for smoking crack in an Anaheim hotel room. The Angels eventually fell out of the race.
Tuesday's announcement that pitcher Jarrod Washburn is being investigated for an alleged sexual assault is similar, but not the same according to one Angel who was there in '97.
``From a media standpoint it's not any different,'' right fielder Tim Salmon said. ``But in this case we don't know enough details to make a judgment. He's our teammate and we stand behind him.''
The Angels have been good this season at blocking out distractions, but they haven't faced anything like this, particularly one involving such a prominent player. Washburn, the club's opening-day starter, is 17-5 with a 3.32 ERA.
``The bottom line is we've still got to play and we're still in a pennant race,'' Salmon said. ``That in itself is a motivating force. From our standpoint, we've got business to do, and we've got the kind of players who won't let this be a distraction.''
Manager Mike Scioscia said he believes his players won't be affected by Washburn's situation.
``This club's going to keep its focus,'' Scioscia said. ``We know what needs to be on on the field. Although this is difficult, our club will be able to maintain its focus and play baseball.''
General manager Bill Stoneman said he felt the same way.
``I've never been around a club that had this focus,'' Stoneman said. ``This is one more test. I think the players are up for it.''
Third baseman Troy Glaus was scratched from Tuesday's lineup because he still had some soreness in the ring finger and middle finger of his left hand. He hurt the fingers sliding head-first into second base on Monday night.
First baseman Scott Spiezio was moved to third base in place of Glaus and Shawn Wooten started at first. Glaus is listed as day-to-day.