Top-50 Greatest Moments in Angels Baseball
Greatest Moments 41 - 50

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#49 - Aug. 18, 2009: Nine Times .300

By Geoff Bilau - Senior Editor

In the top of the fifth inning of their Aug. 18 game at Jacobs Field in Cleveland, Angels catcher Mike Napoli smashed a line drive single into center field off Indians starter Fausto Carmona. It was Napoli's second hit of the game, lifting his batting average to .302.

And though Napoli popped up and struck out in his final two at-bats of the Angels 5-4 victory, his average at the game's conclusion was .300. While it's always noteworthy when a batter (especially a career .256 hitter) eclipses the magical .300 mark, this particular moment was altogether monumental. Napoli was just one of nine Angels hitters who finished that game with a batting average of .300 or better.

It would last only those final four innings and the time leading up to the next day's game — Angels manager Mike Scioscia inserted .275 hitting Howie Kendrick for .300 hitting Izturis and Napoli flew out to left field after walking twice, dropping his average back to .299 — but it was historic, however fleeting as it may have been.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it marked the first time since 1934 that any Major League team at least 100 games into its season finished a game with every player in its starting lineup hitting .300 or better. Mickey Cochrane's Tigers accomplished the feat Sept. 9, 1934, against Boston — which was all the more impressive considering pitcher Lynwood "Schoolboy" Rowe and his .301 average was batting ninth. The Tigers lineup that day included four Hall of Famers (Cochrane, Hank Greenberg, Charlie Gehringer, Goose Goslin) and two All-Stars (Rowe, Gee Walker).

The Angels hitting heroics helped rookie starter Trevor Bell win his first Major League game — one that he and Angels fans won't soon forget.

#48 - July 29, 1997: Chuck Finley becomes all-time Angels leader in Wins

By Lou Garcia - Contributor

"Fin to Win!" And he did. More than any other pitcher in Angels franchise history, passing Nolan Ryan with victory No.139.

It was Tuesday evening, July 29,1997, when Chuck Finley took the mound in Cleveland to face an Indian lineup that included Manny Ramirez, Sandy Alomar Jr. and Matt Williams. In the bottom of the second inning, Finley gave up two runs on three hits — the only runs or hits he would surrender on the night en route to a 7-2 complete game victory. Jack Howell homered twice to pace the Halos.

In front of 42,975 at Jacobs Field, Finley upped his record to 10-6 on the season, but more importantly, he had just notched victory No. 139, surpassing Nolan Ryan as the team leader in career wins.

A five-time All-Star, Finley ended his Angels career with 165 wins — a record that still stands (and should for several more seasons — John Lackey is the team's active leader with 79 victories.)

Chuck Finley Trivia - Finley is the only Major League pitcher to strike out 4 batters in one inning more than once, accomplishing the feat 3 times (twice as an Angel).

Anaheim Angels IP H R ER BB SO
C Finley, W (10-6) 9 3 2 2 2 9

#47 - June 18, 2007: Figgins Experiences the Joy of Six

By Adam Dodge - Senior Writer

Chone Figgins spent all but the last day of April on the disabled list, batted .156 in May and finished the season in an 0-for-21 slump. How then, one may ask, could 2007 have possibly been a breakout season for the Angels' de facto third baseman?

From May 31 until Sept. 22 - the time between his less-than-stellar bookends - Figgins batted .403 (135/335), a span of 83 games where the speedy lead off man reached base in 46 percent of his plate appearances. Despite his early and late woes, Figgins finished with a .330/.393/.432 season, his batting average the seventh highest in Angels history. He also earned MVP votes for the third time in his career. Not too shabby for a guy that's never made an American League All-Star team.

If 2007 was the year Figgins entered baseball stardom, then it was the night of June 18 that his star shined the brightest. Figgins went 6-for-6, leading the Los Angeles Angels to a 10-9 comeback victory over the Houston Astros at Angel Stadium.

And as if just going 6-for-6 wasn't spectacular enough, Figgins' final hit was a ninth inning, walk-off triple down the right field line, scoring Reggie Willits from first base to complete the Angels' comeback.

"I was trying to catch Reggie. That way, at least I'd know he would score," Figgins said with a laugh.

Perhaps ending the game in such dramatic fashion was the only thing that prevented Figgins from a 7-for-7 or 8-for-8 night - Astros pitchers sure couldn't slow him down. As it stood, Figgins' six hits in one game tied Garret Anderson's team record, which had been set in 1996.

Figgins finished his brilliant night with four singles, a double and his game-ending triple.

"This is one of those special games," Figgins said. "You can't explain it. You just stay within yourself. The thing about it was that the game was close, so it made you concentrate even more to get a hit."

It was indeed a special game for Figgins, one that highlighted the best month of his relatively young career. Figgins collected a Major League best 53 hits in June, the most by any player in Angels' history during one calendar month. Figgins also led Major League baseball in June with a .461 batting average.

But it was his 1.000 average on June 18 that landed him on our list.

"I don't think I ever did that in a video game, much less in a professional game," Figgins said.

#46 – April 27-28, June 9, 2002: Eckstein is thrice grand

By Geoff Bilau - Senior Editor

“Yes! No way! YES!”

Three reactions to three grand slams. More specifically, three grand slams hit over a six-week span of the 2002 season by diminutive shortstop David Eckstein, the first two coming in consecutive games.

Ultimately, these home runs would be justifiably overshadowed by some slightly bigger wallops by Eckstein’s teammates later in the season, but if 2002 is remembered as a magical season for the Angels, this is where the magic started.

Starting the season 6-14 on the heels of a 2001 campaign that saw the Angels finish 41 games out of first place, Anaheim seemed anything but magical as 2002 began. A 10-6 win at Seattle on April 24, snapped a four-game losing streak and the Angels headed home with at least a small puff of wind in their sails.

Back home again, Kevin Appier and three relievers combined on a 9-hit shutout over Toronto to provide a little more momentum. What happened the next two days, however, is the stuff people tell their grandkids about.

In the second game of the Toronto series, the Angels went to the bottom of the fifth inning tied, 4-4. RBI-hits by Troy Glaus and Brad Fullmer, and a run-scoring groundout by Bengie Molina gave the Angels a three-run lead. And following a walk to Scott Spiezio, Eckstein put the game away.

On a 1-2 pitch from Scott Cassidy, Eckstein snuck one just over the short wall in left field, near the foul pole, for a grand slam and an 11-4 lead. It was the Angels biggest inning of the season to that point, Eckstein’s first home run and only the fifth of his career.

A day later, things went from surprising to just plain silly. A back-and-forth game saw the Angels and Blue Jays tied, 4-4, in the 14th inning. Toronto finally broke the deadlock with a run in the top of the inning, however, and the Angels run of bad luck appeared to have returned. But Glaus led off with a single and Salmon doubled him to third. A one-out intentional walk to Molina loaded the bases, but Kennedy struck out, leaving it up to Eckstein.

The 5-foot 6-inch shortstop took a 1-1 offering from Pedro Borbon Jr. to nearly the same exact spot in left field for a second grand slam in as many days, this one a walkoff shot that gave the Angels their first three-game winning streak of the season and, finally, some serious swagger. Two days later, they’d defeat the Indians, 21-2, in Cleveland and not look back in winning 21 of 24 games following their 6-14 start.

With the Angels magic in full swing now, it was only fitting that Eckstein had one more trick up his sleeve. On June 9, in the second inning of an interleague game against the Cincinnati Reds, Eckstein again came to the plate with the bases loaded. No sooner than you could think, “He couldn’t possibly do it again, could he?” he did it again.

“I don’t know if one time is better than another for a home run,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said, “... but (Eckstein) has hit them at three times which have been incredible and have won three games for us.”

Eckstein became only the second Angel ever to hit three grand slams in one season. Joe Rudi did it in both 1978 and 1979. Of course, Rudi hit 179 home runs in his career. Eckstein has 30.

That thing they say about big things coming in small packages — in 2002, David Eckstein proved it.

#45 – Sept 14, 2008: K-Rod breaks single season saves record

By Bruce Nye - Columnist

Major League Baseball began recording the save statistic in 1969, measuring the number of times a relief pitcher meets a specific set of requirements. The official scorer shall credit a save when a pitcher:

• is the finishing pitcher in a game won by his team;
• is not the winning pitcher;
• is credited with at least one-third of an inning pitched; and

He satisfies one of the following conditions:

• the pitcher entered the game with a lead of no more than three runs and pitched for at least one inning, or
• he entered the game, regardless of the count, with the potential tying run either on base, at bat or on deck, or
• he pitched for at least three innings

In 2008, Francisco “K-ROD” Rodriguez saved 62 of the Angels franchise-best 100 victories, surpassing former White Sox closer Bobby Thigpen's record of 57 on September 14th, a record which stood for 18 years.

The 14th child of a poor Venezuelan family, who had previously set the Angels franchise mark with 47 saves in 2006, put his name in the MLB record books.

"A lot of people back home have been rooting for me to break the record," Rodriguez said. "It's very important for my people, my country to get that record."

K-ROD recorded 208 saves during his seven-year career with the Angels, but will always be remembered for his amazing debut in 2002, when he won five of 11 postseason appearances en route to the Angels winning the World Series. Rodriguez was a three-time All-Star with the Angels.

Following his historic 2008 season, Rodriguez became a free agent and signed a multi-year contract with the New York Mets.

#44 – April 3-Oct 1, 2000: Angels become first AL franchise with four 30-home run hitters

By Adam Dodge - Senior Writer


Over the past few seasons, the Angels have entered Spring Training with seemingly just one concern — a general lack of home run power throughout the lineup. Some fans, specifically those who jumped on the 2002 bandwagon, may forget that just eight short years ago the Angels, in manager Mike Scioscia’s first season with the club, fielded an historic group of sluggers.

In 2000, Angels third baseman Troy Glaus led the American League with 47 home runs. Glaus became only the third Angel ever to lead the league (Grich, 1981; Jackson, 1982) and at the time set the record for most home runs by an AL third baseman (tied by Alex Rodriguez in 2005 and surpassed by Rodriguez last season.)

To complement Glaus, the Angels had not one, not two, but three others who hit more than 30 home runs, becoming the first team in the AL to have four players hit 30 or more round trippers.

Mo Vaughn clubbed 36, Garret Anderson walloped 35 and Tim Salmon rounded the bases 34 times. (And if that wasn’t enough power for you, Darin Erstad added 25 homers from the leadoff spot, just for good measure.)

The 2000 club’s power fit hand in glove with the newly born Rally Monkey, as a significant chunk of the Angels’ 82 victories were of the come-from-behind variety, due in large part to the team’s power surge.

While the 2000 Angels fell short of the postseason, the team did inject hope into a suffering fan base, a hope that would be realized just two years later when the Angels won the World Series.

#43 – July 6, 1983: Lynn simply grand in the All-Star Game

By Kurt Swanson - Contributor

For the first 40 years of the Los Angeles/California/Anaheim Angels history, the 1982 season was arguably the franchise’s best – albeit one with a real stinker of an ending.

Preceding the collapse in Milwaukee, however, was a fine campaign. The Angels won their second division title with a 93-69 record; Reggie Jackson led the league in home runs with 39; and Fred Lynn, acquired the year before, but sidelined by injuries, had his best season with the Angels, batting .299/.374/.517 with 21 home runs and 86 RBI.

Though the Angels blew a 2-0 lead in the ALCS against the Brewers, Lynn was still named series MVP after batting .611 (11-for-18) in the five games.

On the heels of the 1982 season, 1983 was a season of great promise for the Angels. It was not to be, however, as the team slumped badly to a 70-92 record and a fifth-place finish in the division.

One bright spot was Lynn. The USC graduate, who had longed to play for a team in Southern California after beginning his career in Boston, was voted to start the All-Star Game in Chicago. Old Comiskey Park played host to the 50th anniversary of the mid-summer classic. The nod represented Lynn’s ninth consecutive All-Star game appearance.

In the third inning, with the National League trailing 3-1, San Francisco ace Atlee Hammaker elected to load the bases by intentionally walking Milwaukee’s Robin Yount, taking his chances instead with Lynn, who hadn’t seen the batter in front of him intentionally walked since becoming a professional. Big mistake.

Lynn took a 2-2 slider from the lefty and deposited it into the right field bleachers for the first grand slam in 54 All-Star Games. (And to this day the only such home run.)

The American League scored seven runs in the inning and cruised to a 13-3 victory, snapping an 11-game losing streak for the junior circuit.

“I hadn’t won a single All-Star Game in eight years up until that point,” Lynn would later say. “That grand slam put us up 7-1, and I knew we wouldn’t blow that lead. I didn’t care that they walked Robin to get to me. I wanted to win.”

It was Lynn’s final All-Star appearance. He finished with four home runs and 10 RBI in 20 career All-Star at-bats. At the time, only Hall of Famers Stan Musial and Ted Williams had more home runs and RBI, respectively. Musial finished with five homers and 10 RBI in 63 at-bats, Williams with four homers and 12 RBI in 46 at-bats.

#42 – July 14-15, 2003: GA steals the All-Star show

By Geoff Bilau - Senior Editor

If the Angels were to retroactively come up with a slogan for the 2003 season, it might have been “Come bask in the afterglow of 2002.”

As April rolled around, and pennants were hoisted up gold painted flagpoles, Angels fans were still drunk on World Series emotion. Only trouble was the players seemed to be, as well.

The team sleepwalked through April, May and June and arrived at July with a perfectly mediocre 40-40 record. But with fans flocking to Edison Field in record numbers (attendance would surpass 3 million for the first time ever in 2003), most of them wearing something bearing the words “2002 World Champions,” it was difficult to be too disappointed.

Heading into the All-Star break, however, the team finally seemed to recapture a little bit of the 2002 magic of which it was constantly reminded on the scoreboard in right field. They won nine of their first 12 games in July, including five straight before the break. Sure, they were still 8.5 games out of first, but it was better than the 12.5 deficit they faced when the month began.

And for two amazing days at Chicago’s U.S. Cellular Field, it was like October all over again. The Angels had three players selected to the American League squad: Garret Anderson, Troy Glaus and Brendan Donnelly, the latter of whom was in the midst of one of the best relief seasons in franchise history. He hit the break with a 0.38 ERA, having given up only two runs in 48 innings pitched.

On top of that, as American League champions the previous season, Mike Scioscia was the A.L. manager, bringing his entire coaching staff along with him. The Angels presence in Chicago was already assured, but this contingent seemed determined to be seen and heard.

The most improbable of events actually occurred first; in hindsight a harbinger of things to come. Garret Anderson, who hit 22 home runs in the first half of the season, beat out former teammate Jim Edmonds in the semifinals and then 23-year-old phenom Albert Pujols in the finals to win the Home Run Derby.

“I don’t look at myself as a home run hitter, but I know I'm capable of hitting the ball out of the park,” Anderson said. “It’s just another platform to go out and show America what I can do.”

The GA show wasn’t done, either. The next night, with the American League trailing, 5-1, in the sixth inning, Anderson smoked a two-run homer to right-center on Woody Williams’ first pitch to pull the A.L. within two runs.

Donnelly pitched a perfect top of the eighth to hold the N.L. lead at 6-4. In the bottom half, Anderson’s one-out double off the Dodgers Eric Gagne, his third hit of the night in four at-bats, started a three-run rally that was capped by Hank Blalock’s game-winning two-run home run.

The A.L. won, 7-6, Donnelly was the winning pitcher, Scioscia the winning manager and Anderson named the game’s MVP, his second trophy in as many nights.

It was an outstanding night and the perfect denouement to the championship season. But, of course, all good things must come to an end, and those two nights in Chicago were indeed the end of the afterglow. The Angels lost their first five games after the break and finished the season 77-85, in third place, 19 games behind the A’s.

For a couple of days, however, the defending champs looked every bit the part.

#41 – Oct. 30, 1999: Angels hire Bill Stoneman as GM

By Craig Malone - Contributor

Sexy! Daring! Bold! Risk-Taker! Words you will not see used when describing Bill Stoneman’s reign as general manager of the Anaheim/Los Angeles Angels. Stoneman didn’t need fancy words or daring risks; the former pitcher, who finished his career with the same Angels 25 years earlier, needed to rebuild a franchise from the ground up. He inherited a team rich with turmoil, coming off a 70-92 record good enough for a solid grasp on fourth place.

With the hiring of Stoneman, the Angels were looking to put a horrible decade of baseball behind them, and looking hopefully toward a brighter future. That future started with the hiring of Mike Scioscia, who has now become the all-time winningest manager in Angels history.

Stoneman, working with limited Disney resources, looked to build up a farm system that consistently ranked near the bottom of MLB. His first draft was not as successful as many would have liked, with top pick Joe Torres barely making it out of A-ball. But then along came a guy named Mike Napoli and things were looking a little better. Over the years, with improved scouting, Stoneman was able to draft guys like Casey Kotchman, Jeff Mathis, Joe Saunders and Howie Kendrick, a group that forms the young nucleus of the current team. More importantly, Stoneman was able to open up scouting in the Dominican Republic and convinced the accountants at Disney it was worth the money to sign players like Francisco Rodriguez, Ervin Santana and Erick Aybar.

His 2000 team surpassed expectations, thanks mostly to unprecedented power from Troy Glaus, Mo Vaughn, Tim Salmon and Garret Anderson, and an unbelievable season from Darin Erstad. In 2001, however, the Angels slipped back to their losing ways and finished 41 games out of first place.

Heading into the 2002 season, Stoneman’s biggest moves were signing serviceable starter Aaron Sele and swapping Mo Vaughn’s huge contract for Kevin Appier’s. But it was the smaller moves that illustrated Stoneman’s discerning eye for talent: picking up David Eckstein, Ben Weber and Brendan Donnelly off waivers; trading Kimera Bartee for Chone Figgins.

It’s funny in a way that Stoneman’s legacy will undoubtedly be centered around the World Championship in 2002, though it is the accomplishment in which he perhaps had the smallest hand. In reality, Stoneman’s presence was most felt during the run of three division titles in four seasons from 2004-2007 (and, no doubt, for the next two or three seasons to come.) It is the signing of Vladimir Guerrero, Bartolo Colon, Kelvim Escobar and Jose Guillen in one eye-popping offseason; the staring contest he won against Scott Boras in the Jered Weaver negotiations; and the development of a farm system that is the envy of baseball year in and year out.

Often chided for his refusal (or inability) to pull off trades perceived to be necessary to the club’s success, Stoneman’s record speaks for itself. During his eight-year tenure, the Angels compiled a 703-593 (.542) record and appeared in the postseason four times — the team made just three playoff appearances in the 39 years that preceded him.

Stoneman took the Angels from obscurity and mediocrity to being recognized as one of the elite franchises in all of baseball. He built a model that many subsequent clubs have chosen to follow. And he leaves behind some might big shoes for Tony Reagins to fill.

Sexy or not, Stoneman slowly, methodically, conservatively and above all else successfully served as the architect of the greatest era in Angels history and will always hold a special place in the hearts and minds of Angels fans.

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