Spezio's beat has Angels in rhythm

The hits keep coming from Anaheim's rocker

World Series

October 23, 2002|By Peter Schmuck | Peter Schmuck,SUN STAFF

SAN FRANCISCO - The New York Yankees paid $120 million so that Jason Giambi could lead them back to the world title, but the most productive player in the 2002 postseason is an erstwhile guitar player who has finally proved he's not a banjo hitter.

Anaheim Angels first baseman Scott Spiezio has gotten a lot of publicity this October because he fronts a little-known heavy metal garage band called Sandfrog, but he's in danger of giving away another well-kept secret.

He's a quality hitter, particularly in the clutch.

Spiezio's performance in the Angels' 10-4 victory last night at Pacific Bell Park proved again he is not to be trifled with when there are runners in scoring position and the game is in doubt. He tripled home two runs in the four-run third inning that set the Angels on their way to a surprisingly easy win, and added an RBI single when they batted around again in the fourth.

The big boppers in the Angels' lineup are getting most of the attention and they deserve a lot of it. Tim Salmon hit a huge home run in the club's first-ever World Series victory in Game 2 on Sunday and Troy Glaus has slammed six homers in the playoffs, one off the major-league postseason record set last night by Barry Bonds.

But it is Spiezio who has consistently delivered the key hit, and he has the run-production numbers to prove it.

The three RBIs last night gave him 16 in the Angels' 12 postseason games, a number that places him among the most prolific RBI men in postseason history.

Of course, those numbers have to be placed in proper perspective - since baseball has only employed a three-tiered playoff format for eight years - but Spiezio has shown that he doesn't mind the spotlight.

He would like it even more if his rock group could get some national attention, and he has shamelessly plugged it throughout the postseason. He spent one of the workout days before the World Series hopping around on the rock structure in center field at Edison International Park with a guitar for photographers, and brings CDs to the ballpark to distribute to the FM disc jockeys who finagle media credentials for the postseason.

The rest of the team happily puts up with all this because Spiezio is one of those scrappy guys who contributes as mightily to the Angels' winning chemistry with his attitude as he does with his bat or glove ... and he contributes a lot in all the conventional ways.

This is a player who never really established himself as a quality run producer during four years with the Oakland A's, and didn't do anything in his first two seasons with the Angels to identify him as anything but a complementary player.

Spiezio insisted throughout that all he needed to emerge as a significant offensive force was consistent at-bats. He got them this year and responded with a career-high 82 RBIs.

He will never be a prototypical, power-hitting first baseman like Giambi, but he's closing in on an unconventional 100-RBI season. If you add his 16 in the postseason, he's only two away.

Last night's performance was again obscured by the big run total that the Angels put up in the pivotal third game of the best-of-seven series, but his two-run triple off Giants starter Livan Hernandez opened up a one-run game and his RBI single kept alive another big inning.

He'll rock when the season is over, but Spiezio is on quite a roll right now.

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