By Joe Haakenson, AngelsWin.com Contributor -
SEPT. 18, 2002
GAME 152 - ANGELS AT A’S
OAKLAND – On Tuesday night, the Oakland A's hitters didn't get close enough to smell second base. Wednesday night, they tap-danced on it.
Not a single A's baserunner got as far as second base in the Angels' 1-0 win Tuesday, so they took out their aggressions on Angels starter Mickey Callaway in a 7-4 win Wednesday night before a sellout crowd of 50,730 at Network Associates Coliseum.
The A's pounded four home runs, including three in a six-run fourth inning that turned a 4-1 Angels lead into a 7-4 deficit. Mark Ellis, Eric Chavez and Jermaine Dye each hit solo homers, but the big blow was Ray Durham's three-run homer that snapped a 4-4 tie. Durham's homer came off reliever Dennis Cook; the other three off Callaway.
The win enabled the A's to reclaim a share of first place in the American League West with the Angels. Both teams are 95-57 and will play against each other for the final time in the regular season this afternoon. The Angels' magic number to clinch a playoff spot remains at four.
The Angels were able to do something few teams have done this season -- hit A's starter Barry Zito. Zito gave up four runs in 5 1/3 innings, but still got the win, improving to 22-5.
Angels center fielder Darin Erstad had three of his four hits in the game off Zito. He also drove in one run, scored one and stole a base. But the offense couldn't deliver the knockout blow.
``We did have him on the ropes,'' Erstad said. ``It just didn't happen. You're still facing a pretty good pitcher. Even on a day he probably wasn't as sharp as he usually is, he's still pretty darn good.''
The Angels took an early lead, going up 1-0 in the first inning after David Eckstein walked, took third on a single by Erstad and scored on a sacrifice fly by Tim Salmon.
They appeared to increase their lead in the second inning when Scott Spiezio walked and came around to score on a double by Benji Gil. Though replays showed catcher Greg Myers whiffed with his swipe tag on Spiezio, homeplate umpire Tim Timmons called Spiezio out.
The A's tied the game in the bottom of the second with the first of their four homers, as Ellis hit a line drive that cleared the fence just inside the left-field foul pole.
The Angels got the lead back in the third inning when Erstad singled, stole second and scored on Salmon's single to right-center. They added to the lead with two runs in the fourth, Gil driving in Spiezio with a double and later scoring on a single by Erstad to go up, 4-1.
The lead quickly disappeared in the bottom of the fourth when the A's scored six, all six coming in on their three homers in the inning. Callaway got the first out of the inning before giving up back-to-back homers to Chavez and Dye.
``Mickey got the ball up,'' Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. ``He had problems getting his offspeed stuff over and locating his fastball. That's not a good combination.''
After the tape-measure blasts by Chavez and Dye, Callaway (1-1) walked John Mabry, hit Ellis with a pitch and was done for the night.
``Solo homers shouldn't hurt you,'' Callaway said. ``After the two homers, what hurts you is the walk and the hit batsman. I didn't do my job tonight and it cost the team the game.''
For Callaway, it was his second consecutive start against the A's and the second in which he failed to last four innings. Wednesday, Callaway gave up five runs and four hits in 3 1/3 innings. The Angels will use their off-day on Monday to skip Callaway's turn in the rotation.
Even though he gave up the three homers, Callaway left the game with a 4-3 lead. In came Cook, who gave up a game-tying, RBI single to Terrence Long before striking out Greg Myers for the second out of the inning. Cook, though, got too much of the plate on a 2-1 pitch to Durham, who belted a three-run homer to left for a 7-4 A's lead.
``His velocity is the best it's been all year,'' Scioscia said. ``But that fastball was not quite where he wanted it.''
OAKLAND -- As the Angels head to the playoffs, they continue to evaluate their options when it comes to deciding on a 25-man playoff roster. Left-handed reliever Dennis Cook, who turns 40 on Oct. 4, is on the bubble, particularly because the Angels probably will reduce their pitching staff to 10.
Cook went nearly two months without pitching because of a partially torn labrum in his left shoulder. He considered surgery, which would have ended his season and in all likelihood, his career.
But Cook opted to rehab the shoulder through rest and therapy for the chance to pitch late in the season and possibly the playoffs. But since being activated on Sept. 1, Cook has gotten into only three games, throwing 1 1/3 scoreless innings.
The Angels bullpen has pitchers in established roles and has the best ERA (2.89) in the American League. But Cook would give the Angels a second lefty in 'pen and also give them someone who has postseason experience.
Cook has appeared in 19 postseason games, throwing 16 1/3 scoreless innings and allowing only five hits. That includes six appearances in the World Series.
``I understand where (manager Mike) Scioscia is coming from,'' Cook said of his lack of opportunity to pitch since coming off the disabled list. ``What can I say? I'm just hoping for the opportunity to pitch. My postseason record speaks for itself. I think that it's important to have people who've been there before and people who won't be overly excited about it.
``My goal is to pitch in the postseason. I didn't postpone surgery to watch. My health is not an issue. But if I don't get to pitch, I'll stay and watch and root the guys on.''
Closer Troy Percival's save on Tuesday was his 40th of the season and the 250th of his career.
``The 40th is more important than the 250th,'' Percival said. ``Because it came against the Oakland A's and we're fighting for the division championship. I don't look at career accomplishments until it's all said and done. I've still got three or four more years left in me.''
Percival credited his teammates for helping him reach 40 saves for the second time in his career (42 in 1998).
``First, they have to get a lead, and second, the bullpen has to protect that lead leading up to me,'' Percival said. ``They've done a fantastic job this year.''
One day after throwing on three-days' rest, pitcher Jarrod Washburn felt the normal stiffness in his throwing arm on Wednesday. Washburn made 107 pitches in eight scoreless innings in the Angels' 1-0, 10-inning victory.
Washburn will make his next start Sunday in Seattle against the Mariners.