Sunday, October 13, 2013

By Joe Haakenson, Contributor - 

OCT. 13, 2002

ANAHEIM -- Failure had been so enduring for the Angels franchise that some have wondered if it was cursed, if maybe the rumor that the ballpark was built on an ancient Indian burial ground was true.

But after 42 years of futility, disappointment and even tragedy, 42 years after Gene Autry went to the owners meetings to buy radio broadcasting rights and ended up buying the team, the Angels are in.

Adam Kennedy hit three home runs, including a three-run blast that sparked a 10-run seventh inning, propelling the Angels to a 13-5 win over the Minnesota Twins in Game 5 of the American League Championship Series and putting them in the World Series for the first  time.

The Angels became the fifth team ever and the first since 1983 to lose the first game of a best-of-seven series and win the next four.

Kennedy, who was named the ALCS MVP, will wait with the rest of his teammates until Saturday, when they'll play Game 1 of the World Series at Edison Field against either the San Francisco Giants or St. Louis Cardinals.

During the postgame celebration, Angels right fielder Tim Salmon got ahold of the American League Championship trophy, running out of the clubhouse with it and onto the field to show many in the crowd of 44,845 at Edison Field who stayed in the ballpark.

``(Angels manager Mike) Scioscia handed it to me and said, `You've been waiting a long time for this,' '' Salmon said. ``And I said, `The fans have been waiting a long time for this.' It's not the World Series trophy, but this organization has wanted it for so long. I'm lucky my (sore right hamstring) held up.''

Salmon also remembered Autry and former Angels coach Jimmie Reese, keeping commemorative sleeve patches of them in his pocket during the game.

The Angels previously had played six games in their history with a chance to advance to the World Series, and lost all six -- three to Milwaukee in 1982 and three to Boston in 1986. Seven was the Angels' lucky number.

``Ask anybody and everyone talks about playing in your backyard as a kid, dreaming of playing in the World Series, saying to yourself, `World Series, bases loaded, down by three ...'' Angels center fielder Darin Erstad said. ``Now we'll get to live that.''

For a while, it looked as though the Angels would have to make another trip to Minnesota for Game 6 and potentially a Game 7.

They fell behind 2-0 after two innings, but got two solo homers by Kennedy and one from Scott Spiezio off Twins starter Joe Mays to forge a 3-2 lead after five innings. Given a lead, Angels starter Kevin Appier (5 1/3 innings, 2 runs, 5 hits) left the game in the capable hands of the bullpen.

The Angels wasted a chance to increase their lead in the sixth, going scoreless in the inning despite putting runners on first and third with nobody out. The Twins took advantage of the blown opportunity, scoring three runs in the top of the seventh off Brendan Donnelly and Frankie Rodriguez (all three runs were charged to Donnelly).

Down 5-3 going into the bottom of the seventh, the Angels put together an inning that will go down among the most productive in major league postseason history. Ten runs, 10 hits and a curse lifted.

It took 73 years for a team to match the 10 hits in a postseason inning put up by the Philadelphia Athletics in the 1929 World Series. But now the Angels have done it twice in the span of eight days, also getting 10 hits in the fifth inning of their series-clinching victory over the New York Yankees on Oct. 5.

``I was screaming all inning and the only thing I could get out was `Wow!' '' said Angels pitcher Jarrod Washburn, who will start Game 1 of the World Series.

The key to the inning was Kennedy's three-run homer off Johan Santana that gave the Angels a 6-5 lead, but it nearly didn't happen. After Spiezio and Bengie Molina both singled to begin the inning, Scioscia asked Kennedy to bunt the runners over even though Kennedy had homered in his first two at-bats.

Kennedy fouled off the first bunt attempt before Scioscia took the bunt off. On an 0-2 pitch, Kennedy made history, becoming the fifth player to hit three homers in a postseason game. Babe Ruth (twice, 1926, '28), Bob Robertson (1971), Reggie Jackson (1977) and George Brett (1978) are the others.

``My first reaction was that it didn't happen,'' Erstad said of watching Kennedy's ball sail into the bleachers. ``I had to get on deck to get myself ready and I nearly passed out.''

The onslaught continued from there and it didn't stop until the Angels had sent 15 batters to to plate. Naturally, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire came away impressed with the Angels.

``When the Oakland A's ran off 20 games in a row and when they got finished with their 20-game streak and these guys (Angels) were, what, two games back, I knew that these guys were for real,'' Gardenhire said. ``That's a great baseball team right there. You compare them to all the other lions and tigers in this game, they've got big hearts, they never stop playing.''

Not this year, not until the last out of the World Series.


ANAHEIM -- Before the Angels' Game 5 victory over the Minnesota Twins Sunday, the Angels dugout was teeming with former Angels.

Buck Rodgers, Jim Fregosi, Bobby Knoop, Bobby Grich and Ken Forsch reveled in the moment, feeling a part of the club as it was about qualify for its first World Series.

``I was up in Montreal and it was sad,'' said Rodgers, who played with the original Angels and managed the club from 1991-94. ``I threw out the first pitch before a game that might have been the last game in the history of the franchise. But it's the opposite here. They've done a great job here. The fans are alive again. There's a lot of press (media) eating crow. It's vindication for all of us.

``All of us ex-Angels are rooting hardest of anyone in the stands for these guys to go to the World Series. This is still the Cowboy's team in a lot of respects.''

Fregosi, along with Rod Carew the only players to have their numbers retired, managed the club to its first American League West title in 1979.

``I saw them play earlier this year and they were awful,'' he said. ``To come back from that shows a fortitude that's not on paper. They've got heart. The Cowboy is riding around on his horse up there, looking down.''

Former manager Gene Mauch, however, turned down an invitation from Jackie Autry to attend Game 5 on Sunday. Mauch was the Angels manager in 1982 when the Angels blew a two games to none lead to Milwaukee, and again in 1986 when they came within one strike from reaching the World Series in a seven-game series loss to Boston.

``I'm kind of a villain with a lot of people for what happened in the playoffs in '82 and '86,'' Mauch told the Minneapolis Star Tribune. ``I don't want to put any negative thoughts in anybody's minds.''


Most of the Angels say it doesn't matter if they face the Giants or Cardinals in the World Series, but a few admitted they'd rather play the Cardinals because they'd be reunited with former teammates Chuck Finley and Jim Edmonds.

``I would like to see those guys get the opportunity to play in the World Series,'' Angels closer Troy Percival said. ``But as far as what team, no, it makes no difference.''

The Angels played the Cardinals in St. Louis this season as part of interleague play. The Cardinals won two of three. The Angels did not play the Giants this season.


Angels manager Mike Scioscia said Jarrod Washburn will start Game 1 of the World Series on Saturday.

``I can't wait, I can tell you that,'' said Washburn, who started opening day and Game 1 of the Division Series. ``It's going to be the biggest game of my life.''

The rotation after that has yet to be determined, but they can be flexible because of the five days off between games.

Kevin Appier is 0-1 with a 4.11 ERA in three postseason starts, and hasn't won his past seven starts, including the final four of the regular season. Ramon Ortiz is 1-0 with a 10.13 ERA in two starts, but the ERA is inflated because of his poor start against the Yankees in the Division Series.

John Lackey threw seven scoreless innings in his only postseason start, which came Saturday against the Twins.


Angels shortstop David Eckstein caught a popup from the Twins' Tom Prince for the final out of Sunday's game. He also caught the last out in the Division Series victory over the Yankees. He gave both baseballs to his father, Whitey.


Darin Erstad won a national championship as a member of the 1995 University of Nebraska football team, but he said winning the American League pennant is sweeter.
``This is more special because of the grind of the season,'' he said. ``We've been through tough times as a group. The late-night talks we've had ... We've struggled as a group to get over a lot and we did it.''


Angels reliever Frankie Rodriguez was the winning pitcher, getting his fourth victory of the postseason. It tied an American League record for victories in a single postseason. The others who won four are Dave Stewart (1989), Jack Morris (1991), Orel Hershiser (1995) and David Wells (1998).

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