By Joe Haakenson, AngelsWin.com Contributor -
OCT. 9, 2002
ALCS GAME 2
ANGELS AT TWINS
MINNEAPOLIS -- It took all of seven pitches for the Angels to show that Game 1 was the exception, not the rule.
One night after Minnesota Twins starter Joe Mays turned the Angels bats into sawdust, the Angels rebounded with a 6-3 victory before 55,990 at the Metrodome to win Game 2 and even the American League Championship Series at one game apiece.
Darin Erstad and Brad Fullmer homered for the Angels and the bullpen held the Twins scoreless over the final 3 2/3 innings, capped by Troy Percival's perfect ninth, and the Angels had their first ALCS victory since winning Game 4 over the Boston Red Sox on Oct. 11, 1986.
The Angels now return to Anaheim and can avoid a return trip to Minnesota with three wins at home.
Erstad gave the Angels the early boost they needed after they managed only four singles on Tuesday against Mays. Down in the count 0-2 to Twins starter Rick Reed with one out in the top of the first inning, Erstad got a fastball down the middle and hit it over the center-field fence to give the Angels a 1-0 lead. Just like that, Mays was forgotten.
``I wanted to be aggressive, because that's how we play,'' Erstad said. ``I wanted to put the ball in play and not strike out.''
Simple, but effective.
Brad Fullmer batted in the sixth inning with a runner on third and one out.
``I was thinking I had to get that runner in from third; that's execution,'' Fullmer said. ``I just didn't want to chase a bad pitch. I tried to stay back and use my hands.''
Fullmer stayed back, used his hands and hit it over the fence in center field to put the Angels up, 6-0.
Simple, but effective.
``Maybe we should hit them one and two in the lineup against Reed,'' Angels manager Mike Scioscia said of Erstad and Fullmer. ``Those were two big hits for us. Those two guys, they stepped up and gave us a lift tonight because Rick Reed is a tough pitcher. If he gets on a roll, you can see after the second inning how he settled in.''
Ah, the second inning. In between the home runs, the Angels scored three runs in the second keyed by some bad and good baserunning on the same play. The Angels had runners on first and third when Reed faked a pickoff move to third and turned to throw to first.
Adam Kennedy, who was on first, broke for second and was picked off. But as Twins first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz chased Kennedy, Scott Spiezio left third base and headed home. Mientkiewicz's throw home was on the first-base side of the plate, and as catcher A.J. Pierzynski tried to apply the tag, Spiezio kicked it out of his glove.
``We did everything right,'' Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. ``We picked the guy off first and we just didn't get the guy out at homeplate.''
Staked to the early lead, Angels starter Ramon Ortiz seemed much more relaxed than when he lasted only 2 2/3 innings in his start against the Yankees in the Division Series. Ortiz didn't allow any Twins baserunners to get into scoring position through five innings, getting help from the defense along the way.
In the third inning, Ortiz picked Luis Rivas off first base. In both the fourth and fifth innings, the Angels infield turned a double play.
Ortiz, though, couldn't make it out of the sixth inning. He gave up a leadoff double to Cristian Guzman and an RBI single to Corey Koskie. Ortiz struck out David Ortiz but gave up a double to Torii Hunter and a two-run single to Mientkiewicz and was through for the night.
Brendan Donnelly came in and retired the two batters he faced to finish the sixth before Frankie Rodriguez threw 1 2/3 scoreless innings, striking out three. Percival got the final out in the eighth before throwing a 1-2-3 ninth to end it.
Including Wednesday's game, Percival has thrown 36 1/3 scoreless innings against the Twins in his career. But that's nothing new to the Twins. Rodriguez, though, was someone they had not seen before.
``I hope I never see that guy again,'' Mientkiewicz said. ``That stuff should be in another league. That's some of the best stuff I've ever seen.''
Said Gardenhire: ``Those guys all have different looks. They have great sliders. That was the first time we've seen the kid (Rodriguez). Wow, the ball was jumping out of his hand. Then you've got Percival to end it up. That's why they're at where they're at.''
MINNEAPOLIS -- Angels hitting coach Mickey Hatcher watched third baseman Troy Glaus take two called-third strikes in Game 1 on Tuesday and felt he needed to talk to him. The message: Be more aggressive.
Glaus struck out looking against Joe Mays in the second inning and again against Eddie Guardado to end the game. Overall, he was 0 for 4.
``He's been talked to about it, by us (coaches) and by some of his teammates,'' Hatcher said before Wednesday's game. ``He looks at the umpire like it's his fault. Then he looks at it on TV and sees it's too close to take. He needs to open up his zone and be aggressive. That's what makes Garret (Anderson) a good hitter.''
Glaus paid heed to Hatcher in Wednesday's Game 2. He singled to right field in his first at-bat, starting a three-run rally in the second inning. In the sixth, Glaus hit a triple on a 3-2 pitch, starting a two-run rally. He reached base a third time with a walk in the eighth.
Including his 2 for 3 performance Wednesday, Glaus is hitting .304 (7 for 23) in six postseason games. He has a team-leading three homers, but all three came in the first two games of the Division Series at Yankee Stadium.
Angels right fielder Tim Salmon left Wednesday's game in the third inning because of tightness in his right hamstring. He had a cortisone shot in the leg after the game and his status for Friday's game in Anaheim is questionable.
Salmon said his hamstring has been tight for the past few days but he felt it grab when he chased down a flyball hit by Jacque Jones in the first inning. He felt it again in the bottom of the second inning running to right-center field to catch a flyball hit by Torii Hunter.
``(Center fielder Darin Erstad) said, `Get out of there, you don't need to be in there,' '' Salmon said. ``Right now, it's tough. You don't want to miss any games. But I think I got out of there early enough to avoid any real damage.''
A cortisone shot usually requires a player to take two or three days off. Salmon will take one day off but is hoping to be in the lineup on Friday.
``I hope to, I expect to,'' Salmon said.
Ramon Ortiz's 5 1/3 innings in Wednesday's game marked fifth time in six postseason games the Angels starting pitcher failed to last six innings. Only Jarrod Washburn, who went seven innings in Game 1 of the Division Series vs. the Yankees, has done so. But manager Mike Scioscia said he doesn't believe fatigue is a factor.
``Obviously this is unchartered waters for a lot of these guys,'' Scioscia said. ``But their resiliency has been incredible. I don't see fatigue in as much as we've faced a couple of terrific offensive clubs in the Yankees and now the Twins.''
Twins utility player Denny Hocking is out of the series because of a gash on the middle finger of his right hand, an injury suffered when his hand was stepped on during the celebration on the mound after the Twins' Game 5 win over Oakland.
But it's not Hocking's first celebration injury.
After hitting a game-winning homer to beat the Angels in a game at the Metrodome last season, Hocking was mobbed by his teammates at homeplate, with many of them slapping the top of his batting helmet. The pressure of the headslaps caused the bill of his helmet to break his nose.
``I don't know why they feel they have to pummel a guy after he hits a game-winning home run,'' Hocking said. ``I like the whole celebration concept, but I haven't perfected it.''
Angels reliever Ben Weber has become the Angels' top set-up man for closer Troy Percival, and Twins first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz can understand why.
``It shouldn't be legal for a ball to move as much as Weber's does, not when it's going that fast,'' Mientkiewicz said. ``He throws 94 (mph), the ball moves two feet and it weighs nine pounds.''