By Joe Haakenson, AngelsWin.com Contributor -
SEPT. 7, 2002
GAME 141 - ANGELS AT ORIOLES
BALTIMORE – It wasn't the kind of game that will show up on their season highlight tape. But after the Angels committed nearly as many errors (three) as they had hits (five), they still came away with a 4-2, 10-inning victory over the Baltimore Orioles Saturday night before 30,714 at Camden Yards.
Angels starter Mickey Callaway took a shutout into the eighth inning only to watch his defense make two errors, leading to his departure and two unearned runs that tied the game at 2.
The Angels, though, scored two runs in the 10th keyed by Chone Figgins' legs and Tim Salmon's bat to win their ninth consecutive game. Their winning streak is the longest current streak in the majors and matched the fourth-longest in team history. The Angels last won nine in a row in 1998, and the club record is 11 in a row, set in 1964.
The win allowed the Angels to keep pace with the American League West-leading Oakland A's, remaining two games back. And the Angels maintained their four-game lead over Seattle in the wild-card race. The Orioles, meanwhile, were eliminated from playoff contention.
Figgins got his chance after Troy Glaus walked with one out in the 10th. Figgins was sent in to pinch run for Glaus, then stole second on the second pitch to Salmon. On the next pitch Salmon hit a looping liner to left-center that fell for a hit and Figgins scored easily to give the Angels a 3-2 lead.
``If I get out there I have to be aggressive on the bases,'' said Figgins, who led the Pacific Coast League in stolen bases, triples and runs scored this season. ``If a guy gets a base hit, even if it's a one-hop line drive right at the outfielder, I'm going to score.''
Figgins noticed that the outfielders were playing deep, so he never hesitated when the ball came off Salmon's bat.
``He read it right and had the speed to beat it,'' Angels shortstop David Eckstein said. ``We were sending him from the dugout.''
The Angels added a second run in the inning on Adam Kennedy's RBI double, and Troy Percival pitched the bottom of the 10th for his 35th save.
Eckstein's homer leading off the game and Brad Fullmer's solo homer in the second, both off Orioles starter Rodrigo Lopez, gave the Angels a 2-0 lead.
It seemed to be enough for Callaway, who was making his third start for the Angels since being called up Aug. 25 to replaced the injured Aaron Sele. Callaway had the Orioles shut out on three hits through seven innings before the usually reliable defense let him down.
Pinch hitter Luis Lopez led off the eighth with a line drive to first baseman Scott Spiezio. But Spiezio, who entered the game with the best fielding percentage (.998) among all first basemen in the majors, dropped it.
Callaway, though, got the next hitter, Jerry Hairston, to hit a one-hopper to Glaus at third, what appeared to be a perfect double-play ball. But Glaus' throw to Kennedy at second was wide and went for an error, giving the Orioles runners on first and second with nobody out.
The Angels got a break when Chris Singleton forced pinch runner Luis Matos at third on a sacrifice bunt attempt for the first out, but that was it for Callaway.
Brendan Donnelly came in and gave up a single off Glaus' glove at third to load the bases, and Tony Batista followed with a two-run single to tie it. The Angels escaped further damage when Scott Schoeneweis and Ben Weber (6-2) got the final two outs of the inning.
``We were fortunate to get out of it with a tie game,'' Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. ``You give a team five or six outs in an inning and you're in trouble. But we didn't bury our heads in our hands, and that's important.''
Callaway went 7 1/3 innings, giving up two runs (unearned) and three hits. He changed his gameplan Saturday because he faced the Orioles in his previous start last week.
``The last game I threw inside a little more, so it opened up the outside corner for me,'' said Callaway, who lowered his ERA to 1.86. ``And I think I threw one changeup tonight. All my strikeouts last time came on changeups; I threw 18 to 20 of them. Tonight I mixed it up.''
BALTIMORE -- The Angels have 21 games to play in the regular season which will determine their fate. Last season the Angels lost 19 of their final 21 games, which meant little because they were out of the race anyway. This season the final 21 mean everything.
Manager Mike Scioscia said he believes the club won't have a repeat of last year's collapse because of its depth.
``Right now I feel good about the guys' heatlh, stamina and the depth we have this year is the best we've had in my three years here,'' Scioscia said. ``We'll keep going out the next 21 days and if a guy needs to recharge, we have the guys who can fill in and do a good job.''
Most of the Angels' core group of players have played nearly every game. Left fielder Garret Anderson has missed one game, third baseman Troy Glaus has missed five, shortstop David Eckstein and first baseman Scott Spiezio eight each and center fielder Darin Erstad 10.
``These guys haven't had a lot of time off, but the need hasn't been there to give them a lot of time off,'' Scioscia said. ``You have to balance giving guys time off with keeping offensive continuity. We couldn't do a lot of things last year because we didn't have the depth. But the depth of the club this year and been a strength and will continue to be a strength down the stretch.''
Jarrod Washburn, the club's opening day starter and leader in wins with 16, will start today's game against Baltimore. Depending on what happens today, the Angels will consider bringing him back for his next start on three days rest.
If they do that, Washburn's final four starts of the season will come against Oakland (twice) and Seattle (twice).
Scioscia, though, said he won't take Washburn out early from today's game to keep him fresh.
``We're not going to jeopardize a game to set something set up for later,'' Scioscia said.
The Angels have only one off-day remaining -- Monday, Sept. 23.
Pitcher Aaron Sele, out with a partially torn muscle in his right (pitching) shoulder, played long toss Saturday. He also made some throws in the infield as part of a drill and felt better.
Sele hasn't pitched since Aug. 20 but Scioscia said the club hopes Sele can begin throwing off the mound when the club returns to Anaheim on Monday.