Kennedy as MVP perfect fit to script

Hardly known as slugger, he, like Angels, bloomed

Baseball

ALCS notebook

October 14, 2002|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

ANAHEIM, Calif. - In a season in which the Anaheim Angels proved that anything is possible, why not have Adam Kennedy emerge as the hero of the American League Championship Series?

Kennedy was named Most Valuable Player after hitting three homers in yesterday's Game 5 against the Minnesota Twins, which propelled the Angels into their first World Series. A platoon player at second base, Kennedy hit .357 in the ALCS, with all five of his RBIs coming yesterday. He batted .312 in 144 regular-season games.

Kennedy had 23 career homers going into the playoffs, including seven this season. Asked whether he has ever had a game like this, he said: "I don't even care. I don't think so. This is the best one ever."

Part of the trade that sent Jim Edmonds to the St. Louis Cardinals in March 2000, Kennedy was 1-for-10 in the series before going 4-for-4 yesterday. His 14 total bases led the club and included the 13 yesterday that set an ALCS record.

A smile spread across Kennedy's face before he reached first base on his seventh-inning homer, a three-run shot that gave Anaheim a 6-5 lead. Once the ball cleared the fence, he let out a prolonged scream.

Upon reaching the dugout, he was engulfed in hugs and high-fives, with outfielder Tim Salmon lifting Kennedy off his feet.

"I don't show too much emotion out there," Kennedy said, "but in that situation, when I saw the ball go over the fence, I let a little bit of adrenaline out and gave a little cheer. It was a good feeling."

Poor play in sixth

With a chance to break open yesterday's game, the Angels ran themselves out of the sixth inning.

Singles by Salmon and Garret Anderson put runners at the corners with none out. Troy Glaus grounded to third, with Corey Koskie glancing at Salmon before turning toward first base. But Salmon inexplicably broke for home, and Koskie threw to catcher A.J. Pierzynski for the out.

No longer able to get a run with a fly ball, the Angels couldn't build on their 3-2 lead. Pinch hitter Shawn Wooten struck out, and Pierzynski easily threw out Anderson trying to steal to complete the double play.

Record for Rodriguez

Rookie Francisco Rodriguez matched the AL record by winning his fourth postseason game, benefiting from the Angels' 10-run seventh inning to become the pitcher of record.

He joined the New York Yankees' David Wells (1998), Cleveland Indians' Orel Hershiser (1995), Minnesota Twins' Jack Morris (1991) and Oakland Athletics' Dave Stewart (1989).

Though Rodriguez, 20, didn't throw his first major-league pitch until last month, manager Mike Scioscia had enough confidence in the right-hander to include him on the playoff roster and use him in the last four games of the ALCS.

Rodriguez has struck out 15 batters in 10 postseason innings and hasn't permitted a run in his past six outings.

Rodriguez allowed all three inherited runners to score yesterday after the Twins loaded the bases against Brendan Donnelly with one out in the seventh. Rodriguez walked pinch hitter Bobby Kielty and threw a wild pitch that gave Minnesota the lead, and Jacque Jones lifted a sacrifice fly.

But he retired Cristian Guzman on a ground ball to end the inning.

Gardenhire lament

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire opened his post-game news conference with a question of his own.

"Where the hell's everybody at? They must be watching the celebration," he said.

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