Heaven on Earth: Angels close book on failure, win flag

Kennedy's 3 HRs, 10 runs in seventh spark 13-5 rout as Anaheim gains Series

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

ANAHEIM, Calif. - The Anaheim Angels weren't satisfied with ending their curse yesterday. They buried it beneath a pile of runs and danced on top of it.

Adam Kennedy homered three times, his last giving Anaheim the lead, and the Angels stormed to their first World Series with a 13-5 victory over the Minnesota Twins before 44,835 screaming fanatics at Edison International Field.

The Angels won the best-of-seven American League Championship Series, 4-1, with their only loss coming in the opener in Minnesota. With one smooth motion, they swept three home games and escaped their past.

They couldn't put away the Milwaukee Brewers in 1982 or the Boston Red Sox in 1986, with both teams wrestling away control of the ALCS. Reminders were thrown at these Angels like chin-high fastballs. None of the current players was on those rosters, but it didn't matter. They were guilty by association.

A different team carried the same burden.

"Angels history is buried," said bench coach Joe Madden, in his 28th year with the organization. "A new Angels history is being created."

"Right now," said manager Mike Scioscia, "there's nobody in our league that is standing. We're the last club. We won the championship. When you can do that, what a source of pride for these guys."

Reserve catcher Jose Molina pumped his fist after closer Troy Percival got the first out in the ninth on one pitch. Players and coaches were pressed against the dugout railing as Darin Erstad caught Dustan Mohr's fly ball for the second out.

With the champagne on ice and the crowd in a frenzy, Percival ran the count full on Tom Prince before getting him to pop up.

Molina leaped into the air before the ball even settled into shortstop David Eckstein's glove.

"It felt awesome," Eckstein said. "I was hoping it would be hit to me."

After that, it was bedlam.

Percival hugged everyone he could reach, a difficult proposition with so many Angels piling on top of him to the right side of the mound. Scioscia, whose team trailed twice by two runs, including 5-3 in the seventh, used both arms to gather players at his chest.

Drenched in beer and the bubbly, the Angels returned to the field and ran a lap around the warning track as Van Halen's "Right Now" blared over the loudspeakers. Percival made the trip in his socks. Tim Salmon brought along the AL championship trophy, which he passed to Erstad near the Angels' dugout.

"We're not done yet," Percival said. "We've got four more wins to get. We're proving people wrong, and we're not done yet."

Down 2-0 before they scored their first run, the Angels had no intention of going to Minnesota for Game 6 tomorrow. Kennedy hit two bases-empty homers, the second off Joe Mays giving Anaheim a 3-2 lead in the fifth. Scott Spiezio had tied the score by reaching the seats in right to lead off the inning.

Kennedy's three-run shot in the seventh off left-hander Johan Santana, after he failed to lay down a sacrifice bunt with none out, gave the Angels a 6-5 lead as part of a historic inning that should stick with them longer than the curse. Kennedy usually doesn't hit against left-handers, with Benji Gil starting for him at second base.

"When he swings the bat well," Scioscia said, "he can hit anybody."

"I got a couple of pitches to hit and on some days you get those pitches and miss them," said Kennedy, the sixth player in postseason history with a three-homer game, and only the third in the LCS. "I had my swing working today. I didn't miss those pitches."

Kennedy, named the series Most Valuable Player, had seven homers during the regular season and 23 in his career.

"For him to do it on such a big level," Spiezio said, "he really made today possible for us."

The Angels used a record-setting 15 batters in the seventh while scoring 10 runs on 10 hits. Only the 1929 Philadelphia Athletics and 1968 Detroit Tigers totaled that many runs in a postseason inning. Only the Athletics had that many hits.

"They're hot," said Twins center fielder Torii Hunter. "Everything they hit was in the right spots. They were the better team and they went out there and did their thing. Now I'm going to be rooting for those guys."

ALCS

Minnesota vs. Anaheim(Best of seven)

Anaheim wins series, 4-1

Game 1:Minnesota, 2-1

Game 2:Anaheim, 6-3

Game 3:Anaheim, 2-1

Game 4:Anaheim, 7-1

Yesterday: Anaheim, 13-5

Three's company

The Angels' Adam Kennedy is the third player to hit three home runs in a League Championship Series game.

Player ................... Club ................ Date

Bob Robertson ...... Pitt. .............. 10/3/1971

George Brett ......... K.C. .............. 10/6/1978

Adam Kennedy ...... Ana. ............. 10/13/2002

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