By Joe Haakenson, AngelsWin.com Contributor -
OCT. 22, 2002
WORLD SERIES GAME 4
ANGELS AT GIANTS
SAN FRANCISCO -- The San Francisco Giants had no reason to believe Angels reliever Frankie Rodriguez was a mere mortal. Not after watching him retire 12 consecutive Giants hitters, starting with nine in a row in Game 2 on Sunday.
But after Rodriguez sent Jeff Kent, Barry Bonds and Benito Santiago to the dugout in the seventh inning on Wednesday night, the Giants suddenly discovered Rodriguez is human after all.
David Bell's eighth-inning single off Rodriguez drove home J.T. Snow from second base, snapping a 3-3 tie and lifting the Giants to a 4-3 victory over the Angels in Game 4 of the World Series before 42,703 at Pacific Bell Park, tying the best-of-seven series at two games apiece.
It was Rodriguez's first loss of the postseason after five victories, something that was almost unimaginable only hours earlier.
``Well, you might be a little spoiled by Francisco because he's been incredible,'' Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. ``He's virtually gotten everybody out. We know that's not the life of a pitcher.''
The Angels built an early 3-0 lead, two of the runs coming in on Troy Glaus' homer off Giants starter Kirk Rueter with one out in the third inning. But the Angels managed only four more hits (all singles) the rest of the way against Rueter and the Giants bullpen, and the Giants offense rallied to ensure the Series will return to Anaheim for a Game 6 on Saturday.
The Giants' winning rally in the eighth started with Snow's leadoff single. Snow said having faced Rodriguez in Game 2 helped, even though the results weren't good.
``We know he's good and he's got great stuff,'' Snow said. ``But you better believe you can get him. You can't go up with negative thoughts in your head. Any time you see a guy for the first time, it's tough. Tonight, we made adjustments.''
Snow said he looked for a slider because he noticed that Rodriguez threw them more often than he or his teammates expected in Game 2. Snow got a slider and singled to right field.
``He was waiting for a slider and he hit it well,'' Rodriguez said. ``But it was down the middle. If it's down and away, he's not going to hit the ball like that.''
The key to the inning came when the next batter, Reggie Sanders, missed a sacrifice bunt attempt. The pitch deflected off catcher Bengie Molina's glove, allowing Snow to go to second as Molina was charged with a passed ball.
``It was just one of those nights when the catcher didn't catch the ball,'' Molina said, blaming himself. ``(Rodriguez) looked the same. We just had a bad play on my part.''
With the bunt still on, Sanders bunted one in the air foul near the Angels' dugout, where first baseman Scott Spiezio made a spectacular diving catch, holding Snow at second.
That brought up Bell, who hit a Rodriguez fastball just to the left of the diving shortstop David Eckstein, scoring Snow to give the Giants a lead and new life in the series.
``When you throw a fastball up in the zone, it's going to go straight,'' Rodriguez said. ``If I throw the ball the way I usually do, it's middle-away.''
Said Bell: ``I was just trying to get a pitch I could handle and hit it hard. He's had a lot of success so far. So to get a win tonight was big. I think to get a run off him is important too.''
Angels starter John Lackey found trouble in the early innings but made big pitches to get out of the jams. In the first inning, singles by Kenny Lofton and Rich Aurilia gave the Giants runners on first and third with nobody out.
But Lackey struck out Jeff Kent, and after an intentional walk to Bonds that loaded the bases, he got Santiago to hit into an inning-ending double play.
The strategy worked so well, Lackey and the Angels went with it again in the third inning. A single by Lofton and a double by Aurilia gave the Giants runners on second and third with nobody out.
Lackey got Kent again, but this time on a line drive that Lackey caught himself. After another intentional walk to Bonds, Santiago hit into another double play to end the inning.
Meanwhile, the Angels offense seemed to pick up where it left off on Tuesday. They got three hits in the second inning, including one by Lackey, loading the bases with none out. But they scored only one run in the inning, Benji Gil coming home on Eckstein's sacrifice fly.
In the third, Glaus hit his two-run homer, giving the Angels a 3-0 lead. It was Glaus' seventh homer of the postseason, tying Bonds for the most by any player in a single postseason.
After the third, though, the Angels offense was shut down. Over the next five innings, they managed only two singles, and both times the baserunner was erased on a double-play ball.
``When it got down, 3-0, I just told myself I have to keep it right there, give my guys a chance,'' said Rueter, whose six innings pitched are the most by any pitcher in the series. ``(The Angels) are an explosive team. They've proven that over this series.''
The Giants were able to break through against Lackey in the fifth, and this time Santiago was able to come through after a third intentional walk to Bonds. The Giants already had scored two runs in the inning on an RBI single by Aurilia and a sacrifice fly by Kent, when Santiago, after the walk to Bonds, singled home Aurilia to tied the game at 3.
``We knew we could come back and score,'' Aurilia said. ``Actually, I think a lot of us seeing Lackey the other day (2 1/3 innings of relief on Sunday) kind of helped us out a little bit.''
SAN FRANCISCO -- Former Angels first baseman Mo Vaughn is gone, but certainly not forgotten. Vaughn was traded to the New York Mets for pitcher Kevin Appier last December after making it clear he didn't want to play for the Angels. Then in spring training this year, he ripped them: ``Ain't none of them done a damn thing in the damn game, bottom line. They ain't got no flags hanging at (expletive) Edison Field, so the hell with them.''
Now that the Angels have an American League pennant and are close to a World Series title, they have the ammunition to respond.
``I think it was good to get Mo out, just simply because I think he made it well known to everybody that he didn't want to be there,'' said Angels pitcher Jarrod Washburn, who starts Game 5. ``I don't think we really wanted a guy on our team that didn't want to be on our team.
``Any time you can rid yourselves of a problem or a possible problem like that, I think it's good for the team.''
Besides getting a 14-game winner in Appier, the Angels also found a Gold Glove-caliber first baseman in Scott Spiezio. Spiezio also hit for a higher average (.282) than Vaughn (.259) and drove in more runs (82 to 72).
``It's a very big improvement defensively,'' Washburn said. ``I think our team as a whole is very pleased with how that turned out.''
Angels pitcher Ramon Ortiz was bothered by a sore right wrist during his Game 3 start on Tuesday night, but precautionary X-rays taken Wednesday night were negative. Ortiz was diagnosted with extensor tendinitis in the wrist.
He will get conservative therapy and is still tenatively slated to start Game 7 if the series goes that far. Ortiz had the same problem with his wrist earlier in the season but didn't miss any time because of it.
``I feel good,'' said Ortiz, who gave up four runs and five hits in five innings in Game 3. ``(Tuesday) it was a little bit tight, that's it. There's no pain in my hand. I'm ready to go, man.''
With previous success supporting his decision, Scioscia started Benji Gil at second base Wednesday in place of Adam Kennedy because the Giants had the lefty Kirk Rueter on the mound.
``Without the DH we're not able to get (Shawn Wooten's) bat into the lineup,'' Scioscia said before the game. ``We want another right-handed bat in there, and it gives us some options with double switches late in the game.''
Like all postseason, the move paid off again for Scioscia. Gil went 2 for 3 and scored one run.
Scott Schoeneweis, who threw two scoreless innings on Tuesday in Game 3, is the Angels' only left-handed reliever. But it was his spot in the starting rotation that was taken by Wednesday's Game 4 starter John Lackey.
``I haven't given up on starting,'' he said. ``But I'll worry about that when I have to. Right now I'm worried about getting Giants out as a reliever for the rest of the World Series.''
Lackey became the fifth player in major league history to start a game on his birthday. The others were Pittsburgh's Brickyard Kennedy (Oct. 7, 1903), Brooklyn's Johnny Podres (Sept. 30, 1955), the Yankees' Ed Figueroa (Oct. 14, 1978) and the Dodgers' Tim Belcher (Oct. 19, 1988).
Of the four, Podres and Belcher were winning pitchers on their birthday.