By Joe Haakenson, AngelsWin.com Contributor -
SEPT. 8, 2002
GAME 142 - ANGELS AT ORIOLES
BALTIMORE – As the Angels swept their way through Tampa Bay and Baltimore, they promised their minds were on the Devil Rays and Orioles. The Oakland A's could wait.
But after beating the Orioles, 6-2, Sunday afternoon before 27,665 at Camden Yards for their 10th win in a row, the Angels have the A's right in front of them starting tonight, both in the standings and across the diamond in the opposing dugout at Edison Field.
The Angels trail the A's by two/one game(s) in the American League West going into their four-game series. The Angels' 10-game streak matches the second-longest in club history. The 1997 and 1979 Angels each had a 10-game streak, while the club record is 11, set in 1964.
The Angels' lead in the wild-card race is four games over Seattle, which also won on Sunday.
Angels starting pitcher Jarrod Washburn went six innings, giving up one run and three hits to get the win and improve to 17-5. It's the first time an Angels pitcher has won 17 games in a season in 11 years, when Mark Langston (19), Chuck Finley (18) and Jim Abbott (18) all did it in 1991.
Angels third baseman Troy Glaus was hitless on the trip and 0-for-19 overall when he came to the plate with two on in the sixth inning, and he responded with a three-run homer off Orioles starter Pat Hentgen (0-1), breaking a 1-1 tie and giving the Angels the lead for good. Glaus hit his second homer of the game leading off the eighth inning.
Angels shortstop David Eckstein had three hits, extending his hitting streak to a career-best 15 consecutive games, matching Garret Anderson for the longest streak by an Angel this season.
``This team has done it all year, every day it's been a different person,'' said Glaus, whose 24 homers is tied with Anderson for the team lead. ``Garret had it going in Tampa. Today I was lucky that it was my day. I haven't done a whole lot the last five or six days, but that's what this team does. Guys pick each other up and we give ourselves a chance to win.
``Coming into the road trip we wanted and needed to win all six games to give us an opportunity. We did it, and now we go into the last 20 games with a chance to go to the playoffs.''
Washburn appreciated the help from Glaus as much as anybody. After struggling to throw strikes in the first inning, Washburn settled down and at one point retired 11 batters in a row.
Until Glaus homered in the sixth, the game was tied at 1. Bengie Molina also homered in the inning to put the Angels up 5-1 going into the bottom of the sixth, Washburn's final inning of work.
``Everybody on the team has been hot except for Troy,'' Washburn said. ``Now he's going to pick us up. I don't think anybody in the clubhouse was worried he was going to be in a slump the rest of the year.''
Glaus is hitting just .246 but he has 95 RBIs and 87 runs scored, which is what the club looks for from him.
``I didn't feel I was swinging particularly bad,'' Glaus said of his recent slide. ``I had some bad at-bats but I also had some balls that didn't fall. That's baseball. Today I found a couple holes.''
Next up is the A's, whom the Angels will play eight times in their final 20 games.
``The people designing the schedule couldn't have a better scenario,'' Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. ``It's probably the best argument made for games within your division early in the year, in the middle of the year and late. I like it for that reason, it puts more of the outcome of your season in your hands. I think any team would like that.''
BALTIMORE -- Angels center fielder Darin Erstad was asked if he believes the upcoming series against the Oakland A's will feel like the playoffs.
``I wouldn't know,'' Erstad said. ``I haven't been to the playoffs. They've been there, we haven't. But this is what we've strived for from day-one. It's safe to say this is what we envisioned. We put ourselves in position to have a chance at the end of the year, and now it's a matter of doing it.''
The Angels and A's, the two hottest teams in baseball, begin a four-game series tonight at Edison Field. The A's recently set the American League record with a 20-game winning streak and the Angels have the longest current streak in baseball at 10 in a row. They play each other eight times in the teams' final 20 games.
``I never thought about it,'' Erstad said of the A's streak. ``If you're talking about baseball history, yeah, it was cool stuff. But my mind is so set on taking every day as it comes. Today's over, now I'll see how my fantasy football team did. That's how it goes.''
Others in the Angels clubhouse paid a little more attention to the A's streak.
``Nobody wins 20 in a row without it going through your mind,'' pitcher Jarrod Washburn said. ``It's a team in your division and a team you're chasing. You notice.''
The Angels have followed manager Mike Scioscia's lead and taken the one-game-at-a-time approach, focusing on the game and opponent at hand. That's why they tried to ignore the A's while they were winning 20 in a row.
``There's nothing we could do about it when we're playing somebody else,'' third baseman Troy Glaus said. ``Now we have something to say about it.''
The A's are looking forward to the series as well.
``Us and Anaheim have always had some kind of rivarly,'' A's third baseman Eric Chavez said. ``They've always had a good team even though they've faded at the end. They have a lot of pride and they're young too.''
The Angels are considering moving Washburn up in the rotation so he can pitch against the A's on Thursday on three-days rest. Washburn went six innings Sunday, throwing 103 pitches.
``As of right now, it's still an option,'' manager Mike Scioscia said. ``And there are other things we're looking at.''
The Angels also might pitch Kevin Appier, tonight's starter, on three-days rest down the stretch. Scioscia asked both pitchers if they could do it, and both said yes.
``I've done it before in the minor leagues,'' Washburn said. ``It's Mike's and (pitching coach) Buddy's (Black) decision. As far as I know, right now, I'm pitching Friday. If they want me to pitch Thursday, I'm all for it.''
At least one member of the A's would prefer Washburn pitch on his normal four-days rest and start Friday against Texas.
``Our team matches up with the other guys, but he's got our number,'' Chavez said.
The A's were thinking of holding back pitcher Barry Zito and starting him in Tuesday's game. But Zito started Sunday against Minnesota, so the A's will go with Ted Lilly on Tuesday. Lilly, acquired in a trade with the Yankees, is currently on the disabled list and will be on a 50-pitch limit.
Angels reliever Ben Weber has never pitched in a major league playoff game, but he has pitched in big games. He was the starting pitcher in Game 7 for a professional team in Taiwan in both 1997 and '98.
Weber went eight innings in a 2-1 loss in '97, then went six innings in a 10-2 win in '98.
``They had like 25,000 at the park, but five million were watching on TV,'' he said. ``Baseball's big over there, but they don't come to the park because it's not the safest place in the world.''