By Joe Haakenson, AngelsWin.com Contributor -
OCT. 11, 2002
ALCS GAME 3
TWINS AT ANGELS
ANAHEIM -- A walk, a sacrifice bunt, a single, a fielder's choice, another walk and a flyout amounted to nothing for the Angels in the seventh inning of Game 3 of the American League Championship Series.
So Troy Glaus did it his way.
Leading off the eighth inning, the Angels third baseman hit a towering home run to center field to snap a 1-1 tie and lift the Angels to a 2-1 victory over the Minnesota Twins before 44,234 at Edison Field.
Small ball took a back seat for one game as the Angels used Glaus' homer and another by Garret Anderson to take a two-games-to-one edge in the best-of-seven series with Games 4 and 5 set for Edison Field Saturday and Sunday.
While the homers were big, it would not have been enough without a solid outing by starting pitcher Jarrod Washburn, more outstanding work from the bullpen and some big plays by the defense in the ninth inning.
Washburn gave up one run in seven innings before Frankie Rodriguez shut down the Twins in the top of the eighth. Troy Percival was called upon to slam the door in the ninth, and he did, but it took a diving catch by right fielder Alex Ochoa on Doug Mientkiewicz's line drive leading off the inning, and a sliding catch by Anderson in left field on A.J. Pierzynski's blooper to end it. Ochoa entered the game in the ninth as a defensive replacement for Tim Salmon.
Even in defeat, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire couldn't help but gush about the game.
``I don't know how to describe that,'' he said. ``That was a great baseball game. I mean, you feel really proud to be a part of something like that. We pitched very good. They pitched very good. They made some great plays at the end. ... Does it get any better than that?''
It was a game that could have hinged on any pitch. Washburn worked his way out of early jams while Twins starter Eric Milton made just one mistake -- Anderson's homer leading off the second inning.
The game remained 1-0 until the seventh, when the Twins' Jacque Jones hit a line drive over the head of Anderson in left and off the fence, driving in Dustan Mohr with two outs to tie it at 1.
The Angels had a golden opportunity to regain the lead in the bottom of the seventh but fell short. With Milton out of the game, Twins reliever LaTroy Hawkins walked Bengie Molina leading off the inning.
Chone Figgins pinch ran for Molina and took second on Benji Gil's sacrifice bunt. David Eckstein followed with a line drive off the glove of second baseman Luis Rivas, moving Figgins to third.
Lefty Johan Santana replaced Hawkins, and with the infield in, Darin Erstad hit a grounder to Rivas, who threw Figgins out on a close play at the plate. Mike Jackson entered to face Salmon, who walked to load the bases.
Gardenhire made another move to the bullpen, summoning lefty J.C. Romero to face Anderson, who flied out to the warning track in right field.
Having used up nearly all of his bullpen and certainly his toughest relievers, Gardenhire had no choice but to leave Romero in to face Glaus in the eighth. Romero fell behind in the count 3-1 before throwing a fastball up and out over the plate. Glaus hit it into the first row of bleachers in right-center.
``Honestly, I didn't know it was gone until it hit the seats,'' said Glaus, who has four homers in seven postseason games and pumped his fist in triumph as he rounded first base. ``We've all played in this stadium enough to know when it gets cold, the ball doesn't carry very well. For right-handers to go over there, you've got to hit it pretty good.''
Glaus' teammates are used to it by now, but still impressed when he does it.
``We little guys can't do that,'' Angels first baseman Scott Spiezio said. ``He can hit balls a long way that way. He's got that freak strength. You talk about Barry Bonds, A-Rod, he's got that kind of power. He hasn't hit 73 homers, at least, not yet.''
As for Anderson, the home run was nice, but the sliding catch was sweeter.
``The catch ended the game for us,'' said Anderson, who uncharacteristically flashed a big grin after making the play. ``We've never been in the postseason before and I was told by a couple good friends (Jim Edmonds and Chili Davis) that in the postseason you should just have fun and go play. The hard part is getting here.''
Two wins away from the World Series, the Angels have every reason to smile.
ANAHEIM -- Four years ago he was playing first base for the University of Texas-Arlington baseball team. Two years ago he was playing A-ball. Six months ago he was pitching for the Salt Lake Stingers.
Tomorrow afternoon, John Lackey will start Game 4 of the American League Championship Series for the Angels against the Minnesota Twins.
``It's definitely been a long way,'' Lackey, 23, said. ``I've learned a lot since then. I've come across a lot of coaches at Double-A, Triple-A ... (Salt Lake pitching coach) Mike Butcher helped me out a ton. I have to give a lot of credit to him as far as teaching me how to approach hitters. He taught me how to throw a slider. I've definitely picked up a lot from the coaching staff in the organization.''
Lackey was 8-2 with a 2.57 ERA in 16 starts for Salt Lake this season when the Angels decided to make a change in their starting rotation. Scott Schoeneweis had been inconsistent, and after the Angels called up Lackey to pitch the second game of a doubleheader in Texas, they were impressed enough to make the move permanent.
Schoeneweis was moved to the bullpen and Lackey went 9-4 with a 3.66 ERA in 18 starts with the Angels.
``I think John demonstrated throughout his minor-league career he had the makeup necessary for a pitcher to come up here and have the success that his talent might dictate he could have,'' Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. ``He's going to go after guys, he's going to make his pitches. He understands it's not always going to fall in for him the way you draw it up, but it doesn't back him up from what he knows he needs to do out there on the mound.''
Lackey said he's ready to pitch in a big game, drawing from the experience of pitching three innings of relief in Game 3 of the Division Series vs. the Yankees, and from a rough start he had vs. Oakland on Sept. 11, when he gave up five runs in 4 1/3 innings.
``I think I was a little too fired up,'' Lackey said of the game vs. the A's. ``I think I learned a lot from that start and was more relaxed when I came in against the Yankees.''
Pitcher Brad Radke, who starts Game 4 for the Twins, had a chance to opt out of his contract with the club after last season, and it seemed like a sure thing considering the possibility of contraction.
But Radke stayed and now has a chance to pitch in the World Series.
``Yeah, there was a point that I thought about (leaving),'' Radke said. ``But as it turned out, I'm glad I stayed. Just the way these guys, the younger guys on the team now, have grown up to be quality major league players.''
Radke had arm problems this season and made only 21 starts, going 9-5. But he was the winning pitcher in the Game 5 clincher over the A's in the Division Series.
``Sure, I was concerned he might leave,'' Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. ``But I really didn't think Brad wanted to go anywhere. He loves Minnesota. He just wants to win, like everyone else. I'm sure now that we're doing that, he's pretty happy.''
Tim Salmon tested his sore right hamstring in pregame workouts Friday and was deemed fit to play. Salmon, who left Wednesday's Game 2 in Minnesota in the third inning, played the entire game Friday.
He went 0-for-3 and ran without a limp.
Hall of Famer Rod Carew, who played his entire career with the Twins and Angels, threw out the ceremonial first pitch before Friday's game.