Angels flex muscle, top Twins, 2-1

Anderson, Glaus hit HRs as Anaheim takes 2-1 advantage in ALCS

October 12, 2002|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

ANAHEIM, Calif. - So confident are the Anaheim Angels, they'll send out a rookie pitcher - John Lackey - tonight. He began the year in Salt Lake, and he never expected to be starting under these conditions, just as the Angels weren't supposed to be playing once the games moved into October. But they stopped being predictable a long time ago.

Spring forecasts that they would be nothing more than a third-place team went ignored, and their status as a wild card got the same treatment. Not only are the Angels in the American League Championship Series, but they also have moved a step closer to clinching it.

Troy Glaus led off the eighth inning last night with a home run off Minnesota Twins reliever J.C. Romero, and the Angels survived a pitching duel and a few lapses in judgment to win, 2-1, in Game 3 before 44,234 at Edison International Field.

With the score tied, Glaus drove a 3-1 pitch from Romero into the seats in right-center field for his fourth postseason homer. Fireworks exploded, creating a thick smoke that couldn't hide the Twins' predicament. Once closer Troy Percival nailed down another save, Minnesota trailed 2-1 in this best-of-seven series.

"Honestly, I didn't know it was gone until it hit the seats," Glaus said. "We've all played in this stadium enough to know when it gets cold, the ball doesn't carry very well. For right-handers to go over there, you've got to hit it pretty good."

Glaus batted .313 in the AL Division Series and led the Angels with three homers and 14 total bases. All of his homers have come with the bases empty. Needing only one run last night, the Angels weren't complaining.

"Troy finished the season on a strong note, and I think it's a carry-over," Anaheim manager Mike Scioscia said. "He went through a real tough stretch for a couple months in the middle of the summer, but he stayed with it."

Garret Anderson homered in the second inning off University of Maryland alum Eric Milton, and Angels starter Jarrod Washburn carried a shutout into the seventh before Jacque Jones - in a 1-for-20 slump - doubled with two outs for a 1-1 tie. Anderson gave up the chase, assuming Jones had cleared the fence, but the ball hit halfway up as Dustan Mohr raced home from first.

That was lapse No. 1.

"He's probably one of the few lefties I play deep," Anderson said. "When he hit it, I was just hoping it would stay in the park."

The Angels left the bases loaded in the seventh, as the Twins used four pitchers in the inning. With runners on the corners, Chone Figgins held at third base while catcher A.J. Pierzynski chased a ball, bounced in the dirt by reliever Johan Santana, that rolled toward the home dugout.

"The ball deflected a little bit toward him, where he didn't have depth," said Scioscia, who earlier in the inning watched Figgins stop at third on a liner off Luis Rivas' glove. "If the ball is going away from you or coming toward you, it's a tough read. Fig has good instincts there."

David Eckstein advanced to second on the play. Darin Erstad grounded to Rivas, who threw home to get Figgins.

Brought in as a pinch runner, Figgins appeared to touch the plate with his left hand before Pierzynski made the tag, but umpire Brian Gorman ruled him out. Tim Salmon walked, but Anderson flied to the warning track in right against Romero.

Glaus made sure only an opportunity was lost.

"That was a great baseball game," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "You really feel proud to be a part of something like that. You have to be. Does it get any better than that?"

Percival retired the side in the ninth, with a diving catch from Alex Ochoa in right and a sliding grab by Anderson in left keeping the bases clean. Ochoa was a defensive replacement for Salmon.

Rookie Francisco Rodriguez won for the third time this postseason, striking out two in the eighth after Washburn departed. Washburn struck out seven and didn't walk a batter in seven innings.

Nothing against the state of Minnesota and its cold climate, but the Angels have no desire to return there in 2002. It's an attractive offer only to the Twins, who haven't warmed to the idea of ending their season in the land of beach balls and rally monkeys.

They've got two more chances to reroute the series to the Midwest. Game 6, if needed, is scheduled for Tuesday at the Metrodome.

It becomes a certainty if the Twins can defeat Lackey, 23, who won nine games after coming up from Triple-A in late June. He's in position to give the Angels a commanding series lead.

In his only playoff appearance, which came in relief, Lackey threw three shutout innings in Game 3 of the AL Division Series. Facing the New York Yankees presented a unique challenge. Now comes another one - his first career start in the postseason.

"Down the stretch in our division race, I pitched in quite a few big games," he said. "I think that really helped me get accustomed to a playoff atmosphere."

Milton already dealt with the pressure when he extended the Division Series to a fifth game by defeating the Oakland Athletics, 11-2. He also had an interesting history with the Angels, throwing a no-hitter against them in 1999 and going 4-0 with a 1.50 ERA lifetime at Edison before last night.

ALCS schedule

Minnesota vs. Anaheim(Best of seven; *-if necessary)

TV:Chs. 45, 5

Anaheim leads series 2-1

Game 1:Minnesota, 2-1

Game 2:Anaheim, 6-3

Last night:Anaheim, 2-1

Today:Minnesota (Radke 9-5) at Anaheim (Lackey 9-4), 7:50 p.m.

Tomorrow:at Ana., 4:30 p.m.*Tuesday:at Minn., 8:19 p.m.*Wed.:at Minn., 8:19 p.m. SunSpot:For more coverage, visit sunspot.net/baseball

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