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World Champion Angels | Classic Rewind: April 2nd, 2002



APRIL 2, 2002
By Joe Haakenson, AngelsWin.com Contributor
ANAHEIM -- Kevin Appier's first start as an Angel won't be one to tell the grandkids about years from now, but the end result was one the Angels will gladly accept.
Appier, who came to the Angels from the Mets in a trade for Mo Vaughn Dec. 27, bobbed and weaved his way through five innings in the Angels' 7-5 victory over the Cleveland Indians Tuesday night before 20,055 at Edison Field.
Appier gave up four runs (two earned) and four hits while making 106 pitches, which helped to cut short his first night in Angel red. The win, though, was more a result of the bullpen and the offense, which scored five runs with two outs.
Ben Weber (two scoreless innings), Al Levine (one scoreless inning) and Troy Percival (first save) combined to throw four innings in relief of Appier, allowing one run and two hits. Russell Branyan homered off Percival in the ninth for the only run.
The Angels got most of their offense from the top of the lineup, where David Eckstein and Darin Erstad combined for five hits, two stolen bases, four runs and three RBIs. Eckstein had three hits, scored three runs, stole a base and made an outstanding defensive play.
Even Troy Glaus went to the opposite field, hitting a two-run double to right-center field in the seventh inning, providing the margin for victory. The Angels stole three bases and ran the bases aggressively all night.
It was the type of offense Angels manager Mike Scioscia stressed during spring training.
''That's my style,'' Erstad said. ''Grind it out, scratch and claw, do the little things to win. A lot of guys did that today. We're going to win a lot of ballgames if we keep doing it.''
The game-winning run, though, came courtesy of Indians second baseman Ricky Gutierrez, who is taking over for Roberto Alomar (traded to the Mets). With two out in the sixth inning and the game tied at 4, Gutierrez dropped Bengie Molina's routine pop fly, allowing Glaus to score from third and give the Angels the lead for good.
After being shut out by Bartolo Colon in their opener, the Angels got on the scoreboard in the first inning against Indians starter C.C. Sabathia. With one out, Erstad singled and stole second. Tim Salmon followed with an RBI double and 1-0 Angels lead.
Appier made a lot of pitches in the first two innings (41) but didn't allow any runs or hits. In the third, though, Omar Vizquel had an RBI triple and Ellis Burks had an RBI single to give Cleveland a 2-1 lead, as Appier's pitch count continued to rise. He made 71 pitches through three innings, 83 through four.
''I didn't think I threw all that badly,'' Appier said. ''They made things really tough, working counts and taking pitches. Really, they were super disciplined at the plate.''
In the fifth, though, the defense betrayed Appier. With one out and no one on base, Matt Lawton hit a hard grounder to Eckstein at shortstop. Eckstein knocked the ball down, picked it up and threw in time to get Lawton. But Lawton was ruled safe because first baseman Benji Gil pulled his foot off the bag. Gil was charged with an error.
It was a costly error, because the Indians went on to score two unearned runs in the inning. Burks drove in the first with an RBI single on a hit-and-run play, and Jim Thome drove in the second with a sacrifice fly.
''His pitch count was extremely high for the fifth inning, but Ape battled and made good pitches,'' Scioscia said. ''We didn't help him much with the error, but Ape kept us in the game.''
The Angels got the runs back in the bottom of the fifth by putting together a rally after two were out and no one was on base. Adam Kennedy drew a walk and stole second, and Eckstein followed with an RBI single to right field, cutting their deficit to 4-3.
Erstad then ripped a double into the right-field corner, scoring Eckstein from first to tie the game at 4.
''Everybody wants to do it, and we definitely have to do it,'' Eckstein said of manufacturing runs. ''When you have a team that wants to do it, it makes you better. If you move runners over it makes it easier for the next guy.''
The Angels went ahead for good in the sixth scoring the unearned run on Gutierrez's error. The only hit of the inning was Brad Fullmer's first as an Angel. With Glaus (walk) on first and two outs, Fullmer singled to right, sending Glaus to third. Molina followed with the popup that was dropped.
ANAHEIM -- The Angels decided during the offseason that they'd be better off spending money on offense, so they let reliable reliever Shigetoshi Hasegawa leave. That opened the door for a variety of the organization's younger pitchers to try to win a job in the bullpen.
Bart Miadich, Brendan Donnelly and Matt Wise were among those in the mix, but ultimately it was veteran Donne Wall who won the job during spring training.
Wall pitched two perfect innings in his Angel debut on Sunday night, a good start in his effort to bounce back from a bad season in 2001 with the Mets. Wall was 0-4 with a 4.85 ERA in 32 appearances last year while battling through shoulder problems.
''I was very frustrated,'' Wall said. ''I tried to stay as positive as I could, but physically, my body wasn't doing what it was used to.''
Wall, 34, is healthy again, and the Angels are hoping that he returns to the form he showed from 1998-2000 with the Padres, when he served as closer Trevor Hoffman's set-up man. In those three seasons Wall went 17-10 with a 2.92 ERA.
''Our job in the bullpen is to get the ball to (closer) Troy (Percival) with the lead,'' he said. ''It doesn't matter if you come in in the third inning or the eighth, just get the ball to Troy.''
Left-handed reliever Dennis Cook made 31 pitches during a simulated game Monday at Rancho Cucamonga, the Angels' Single-A affiliate. Cook, on the disabled list with bruised ribs, will throw again in the Quakes' season-opener on Thursday.
If all goes well, Cook could be activated by Saturday in Texas.
''Oh yeah, I've been antsy,'' Cook said. ''I think I'm close.''
Cook, 39, was injured during the Angels' March 9 fight with the San Diego Padres.
Starter Ramon Ortiz, in staying on a five-day pitching schedule, threw 90 pitches in a simulated game Monday at Rancho Cucamonga. He'll make his first start of the season Saturday in Texas.
Manager Mike Scioscia said the Angels' opening day dud should be something from which the players can learn.
''Opening day is probably as close as you're going to get to a playoff atmosphere,'' he said. ''You'd like the guys to use the experience to get used to it. Opening day is part of the season and the fanfare is part of the package. You want to use that energy for something positive because there might be a time during the season or in the playoffs when you'll be in the same situation.''


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