Wednesday, October 23, 2013

By Joe Haakenson, Contributor - 

OCT. 23, 2002

SAN FRANCISCO -- Since opening day way back on March 31, Angels manager Mike Scioscia has hypnotized anyone who would listen that any single baseball game wasn't any more important than the next. But with their 16-4 loss to the San Francisco Giants in Game 5 of the World Series, that philosophy will have to be scrapped.

The Giants took a three-games-to-two lead in the best-of-seven series Thursday night before 42,713 at Pacific Bell Park, meaning Saturday's Game 6 in Anaheim is now the single most important game of the season for the Angels. A loss and their dream season comes to an anticlimactic end. A win would force a Game 7 on Sunday.

The Angels have had to come back all season. They became the first team ever to finish 41 games out of first and reach the World Series the following year. They began the season 6-14, the worst start in franchise history. Of their 99 regular-season victories, they came from behind 43 times.

``That would make a good story if we won two, wouldn't it?'' Angels center fielder Darin Erstad said.

While it has been the Angels offense that has set all kinds of postseason records, it was the Giants' turn to unleash the lumber on Thursday.  Their 16 runs matched the second-most in World Series history. They had 16 hits, including two home runs and a double from Jeff Kent.

Kent's two homers and another by Rich Aurilia increased the Giants' World Series total to 12, the most ever by a National League team and tied with the 1956 New York Yankees for most by any World Series team. The Giants also got a triple and two singles from Kenny Lofton and two doubles and a single from Barry Bonds.

``They had it going tonight,'' Erstad said. ``It was a little taste of our own medicine. But if you lose by one or lose by 12, it's still just one loss.''

This one was nearly over before it got started as the Giants scored three runs in each of the first two innings to take a 6-0 lead against Angels starter Jarrod Washburn.

He gave up six runs and six hits, his worst start of the season, which includes 32 regular-season starts. He lasted only four innings (a season-low) and walked five (a season-high). After going 18-6 in the regular season, Washburn is 1-2 with a 5.02 ERA in five postseason starts.

``I've felt tired for the last month,'' Washburn said. ``Tired or not, I'm expected to go out and do my job and I didn't. I let all these guys down in this room. I was terrible from the get-go. I feel terrible.''

Depite Washburn's poor start, the Angels made a game of it. They their deficit to 6-4 with three runs in the fifth and one in the sixth before the Giants beat up on the Angels bullpen with two runs in the sixth, four in the seventh and four in the eighth.

Angels relievers Ben Weber gave up five runs in 1 1/3 innings and Scot Shields gave up five (one earned) in 1 2/3 innings.

``The big key was us adding on,'' Giants manager Dusty Baker said. ``We didn't want to hold onto the lead, we wanted to add onto the lead, which we did. We know the Angels are a big comeback team. We also know they're a big-inning team, much like we are.''

The Angels are now one loss away from the end of a long and grueling season, but also their most successful ever.

``We've been through numerous games where we had tough losses or got blown out,'' Angels closer Troy Percival said. ``But we've come back before. We've got two games we've got to win. There's not a guy in here who's going to panic.''

In the first inning, the Giants had Lofton on first with one out when Washburn got ahead in the count to Kent, 0-2. But Washburn eventually walked Kent and Bonds followed with an RBI double.

Benito Santiago hit a sacrifice fly for the second run of the inning when Washburn lost the strikezone. After an intentional walk to Reggie Sanders, Washburn walked J.T. Snow to load the bases. Then he walked David Bell to force in a run and the Giants had a 3-0 lead.

In the second inning, Lofton again led off with a single and one out later he went to third on Kent's double. After an intentional walk to Bonds loaded the bases, Santiago singled home two runs.

Sanders followed with a sacrifice fly for a 6-0 Giants lead.

Meanwhile, the Angels offense managed to make trouble for Giants starter Jason Schmidt but had problems getting key hits, just like they did against him in Game 1.

The Angels had runners on first and second with two outs in the first and didn't score. In the third they had runners on first and third with one out and didn't score.

They finally broke through against Schmidt in the fifth inning and knocked him out of the game in the process. Even though Schmidt had held the Angels scoreless through four innings, he needed 78 pitches to get there.

Pinch hitter Orlando Palmeiro led off the fifth with a double and he went to third when David Eckstein's grounder went off Bell's glove at third for a single. Darin Erstad drove in the Angels' first run of the night with a sacrifice fly.

Tim Salmon, who struck out with a runner on third and one out in the third inning, singled to center, moving Eckstein to third. Salmon went to second and Eckstein scored on a wild pitch, scoring the Angels' second run of the inning. Garret Anderson struck out, but Troy Glaus doubled off the wall in left to score Salmon and cut the Giants' lead to 6-3.

The Angels added a run in the sixth when Bengie Molina singled, went to third on Benji Gil's double and scored on a Eckstein's groundout to make it 6-4. The Angels wasted a chance for another run in the inning Gil inexplicably held up at third on Erstad's dribbler up the first-base line.

Pitcher Chad Zerbe's never looked at Gil as he hurriedly fielded the ball and tagged out Erstad for the second out of the inning. Salmon grounded out to end the threat.

Saturday's Game 6 will be the Angels' 177th game of the season, and most important. At least until – and if – there’s a Game 7. Game 5, the Angels say, is forgotten.

``Well, it was tough,'' Scioscia said. ``We battled back. Actually, you look at the final score, it was a whooping, no doubt about that. But the opportunity in the middle of the game for us to get back in it was there. We've felt good about that, obviously. But that's a flat-out whooping. You can't really put it into any more words.''


SAN FRANCISCO -- The Angels are likely to go with John Lackey as their Game 7 starting pitcher on Sunday if the series goes that far. Lackey, who went five innings and made 95 pitches in Game 4 on Wednesday, would be pitching on three-days' rest.

``I would love the opportunity to get back in there and get another chance,'' Lackey said. ``If it's up to me, I'll be there.''

Lackey, though, would not start Game 7 if he is needed in relief in Game 6 on Saturday. Kevin Appier, who will start Game 6, got in trouble early in Game 2 and the Angels used Lackey in relief for 2 1/3 innings. If Appier struggles again the Angels instead could use Scot Shields, who made his first postseason appearance on Thursday but with tomorrow’s off day could still be used for about three innings if needed.

The Angels' other option for Game 7 is Ramon Ortiz, who complained of soreness in his right wrist during Game 3 on Tuesday. Ortiz threw long toss on Thursday and is scheduled to throw a bullpen workout tomorrow.

No matter who gets a Game 7 start, all the other pitchers will be available because it would be the final game of the season.


No Angels starting pitcher in the World Series has lasted more than the 5 2/3 innings since Jarrod Washburn lasted in Game 1. In the five games, Angels starters have averaged only 4 1/3 innings per start.

``This time of year, any rotation in the game obviously is not going to be as crisp as they were in August or any time during the season,'' Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. ``Our starters have enough gas in their tank to do what we need to do.''

Appier, Saturday's Game 6 starter, lasted only two-plus innings in Game 2.


After taking a 2-1 series lead, the Angels have lost the last two games, marking the first time they have lost consecutive games in the postseason. They last lost consecutive games on Sept. 21-25, when they lost four in a row, two to Seattle and two to Texas.


Angels catcher Bengie Molina blamed himself for Wednesday's Game 4 loss because his passed ball allowed the winning run to move into scoring position.

``He took it hard but Bengie wasn't the reason we lost that game,'' Scioscia said. ``We didn't lose (Wednesday) night because of Bengie Molina and we didn't lose because of Francisco Rodriguez (who gave up the game-winning hit). Sometimes the guys on the other side get it done.''


Angels center fielder Darin Erstad went hitless Wednesday in Game 4, ending his postseason hitting streak at 12 games. Erstad went 1-for-4 Thursday in Game 5, and now has hit safely in 13 of 14 postseason games.

Erstad has a total of 23 hits in this postseason, two short of the all-time hits record for a single postseason (25), set by Atlanta's Marquis Grissom in 1995.


Tomorrow is an off-day for the Angels and Giants. The Angels have an optional workout at Edison Field, while the Giants will fly to Southern California and take the rest of the day off.

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