Rodriguez steps up in hurry

Anaheim's 20-year-old has hand in three wins

Yankees-Angels notebook

Baseball

October 06, 2002|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

ANAHEIM, Calif. - The team making such an improbable run in the postseason includes a pair of 20-year-old legs that should be knocking at the knees.

Francisco Rodriguez became the first pitcher in Anaheim Angels history to win two postseason games after striking out four of the six batters he faced in Friday's 9-6 victory over the New York Yankees. Rodriguez, who began the season at the Double-A level, cruised through his two scoreless innings while the Angels rallied from a 6-1 deficit in Game 3 of the American League Division Series.

Possessing a 95-mph fastball and nerves of steel, Rodriguez bounced back nicely from the two-run homer he allowed to Alfonso Soriano after relieving starter Kevin Appier in Game 2. He gained the win after the Angels rallied in the eighth inning against Orlando Hernandez.

Used again yesterday, he walked two batters and threw a wild pitch that allowed an inherited runner to score in the seventh. But Rodriguez also struck out Jorge Posada and retired Nick Johnson on a grounder to the mound, and struck out two more in the eighth of the Angels' clinching victory.

"If you make the pitches and keep the ball down, you have a chance. If you make a mistake, those guys are going to hit you," he said.

Keeping face

As the Angels recorded the last out yesterday, Yankees manager Joe Torre immediately looked over at Scioscia while Anaheim players and coaches stormed the field. Being on the other end for a change, Torre was curious how the winning manager in his first postseason would react.

"My eyes went right to Mike Scioscia just to see if he would let his guard down," Torre said. "The son-of-a-gun wouldn't do it. He had that straight face, shook hands. That's a lot of baloney. You know what's going on there."

"Obviously I'm ecstatic," Scioscia said. "Any time you achieve something in baseball, you have to celebrate it. I'm certainly feeling good about what our guys did, but the perspective is, it's one rung up the ladder. We have challenges in front of us that are goals of ours."

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