APRIL 5, 2002
GAME 4 - ANGELS AT RANGERS
By Joe Haakenson, AngelsWin.com Contributor
ARLINGTON, Tex. -- Scott Schoeneweis did Friday what Jarrod Washburn, Kevin Appier and Aaron Sele could not in the Angels' first three games of the season -- pitch into the sixth inning.
In fact, Schoeneweis went a few steps further, going into the ninth inning and leading the Angels to a 3-1 victory over the dangerous Texas Rangers Friday afternoon before Vice President Dick Cheney and a sellout crowd of 49,617 at The Ballpark in Arlington.
While his fellow starters needed around 100 pitches to get through five, Schoeneweis walked off the mound with one out in the ninth having made 99 pitches. He gave up one run and five hits, struck out six and walked only one.
The Rangers' murderers' row of Alex Rodriguez, Juan Gonzalez, Rafael Palmeiro and Ivan Rodriguez combined to go 2 for 12 with four strikeouts against Schoeneweis. Alex Rodriguez struck out three times himself, including taking a called third strike in the ninth inning that caused him to slam his bat to the ground.
''I don't know what happened to us,'' Rodriguez said. ''He took it to us. Our thing is, I think we were too aggressive.''
Schoeneweis kept the Rangers off balance by changing speeds and throwing fewer sinkers, his primary pitch.
''We mixed it up,'' catcher Bengie Molina said. ''They all know he throws a sinker, but we mixed in a fastball and changeup. We got 'em by surprise. Last year he didn't have a changeup.''
Schoeneweis entered the ninth inning and gave up a leadoff double to Gabe Kapler. He struck out Alex Rodriguez looking on a slider and was taken out of the game. Al Levine came in and retired Gonzalez on a groundout and Palmeiro on a flyout to earn his first save.
''I've learned once (Scioscia) steps out of the dugout, there's no discussion,'' Schoeneweis said of coming out of the game. ''It was for the best.''
''That was a great performance,'' Scioscia said. ''You have to understand that's a very powerful offense, there's not much leeway. He made great pitches all day, he changed speeds well, and we played good defense behind him.''
For a while, though, Schoeneweis' performance appeared as though it might not be good enough. Rangers starter Ismael Valdes, who went 9-13 for the Angels last season, shut out the Angels on two singles through six innings.
When Valdes took the mound to start the seventh, the Angels had not even moved a baserunner as far as second base.
''Ismael pitched a terrific ballgame,'' Scioscia said. ''One thing about today's game is he didn't use his breaking ball as much. But his fastball command was as good as I've seen it.''
The Angels finally got to him when Tim Salmon led off the seventh inning with a double to left. One out later, Troy Glaus homered to left on a 1-2 pitch to give the Angels the lead for good. Molina added an RBI single in the ninth off reliever Colby Lewis.
''He's absolutely getting better,'' Scioscia said of Glaus. ''He understands the big picture of a guy in the middle of the lineup and what he has to bring. He's done a great job in RBI situations this year.''
The Rangers' only run came home in the second inning after Gonzalez singled, went to third on a double by Palmeiro and scored on Carl Everett's sacrifice fly. After that, no Ranger reached second base until Kapler's double in the ninth.
Schoeneweis believes adding the changeup was the difference.
''I think there was a little bit of uncertainty, a little bit of surprise,'' Schoeneweis said. ''Hitters will look for a certain pitch in a certain area at a certain speed. That's not how I want to get hitters out.
''That's a tough lineup. When you've got Carl Everett hitting seventh, that's a pretty good indication.''
ARLINGTON, Tex. -- Already playing short-handed because of the suspension to Scott Spiezio and the injury to Troy Percival, the Angels suffered another blow Friday when first baseman Benji Gil had to leave the game in the first inning with a sprained left ankle.
After the game, the Angels placed Gil and Percival on the 15-day disabled list.
Percival, bothered by a strained intercostal muscle on his right side for the past three weeks, last pitched on April 2 and will be eligible to return on April 18.
Al Levine and Ben Weber are most likely to get the call to pitch the ninth in a save situation.
Percival and Scioscia insist they aren't worried that the injury will become a long-term ordeal, and they say they don't expect the right-hander to end up on the disabled list. He'll be re-evaluated on Monday.
The injury has lingered for weeks, as Percival said he first hurt himself March 14 in a spring training game against the Rockies. He pitched six more times during the spring, and then again on Tuesday, when he pitched the ninth and got a save.
After Percival hurt himself initially, the Angels thought he could pitch through it. But when treatment didn't fix the problem, the tests were ordered. After the MRI revealed the strain, Percival said he wasn't surprised.
''It's consistent with what I thought it was,'' he said. ''But it's too early in the year to go out there and try to pitch through it. I'll take three or four days and get back to 100 percent. If this was September, I could go out and pitch.''
Conscious of the injury, Percival said he threw at about 90 percent in last Tuesday's game against the Indians, throwing his fastball at 92-94 mph, below his typical 95-98 mph. He gave up a leadoff homer to Russell Branyan before getting the final three outs.
Scioscia and the Angels seemed relieved with the diagnosis.
''It could have been a lot worse,'' Scioscia said. ''When you hear the word 'MRI' you think the worst, it's almost like a curse. But this is something that's fixable, and fixable on a short-term basis.''
Gil, who is eligible to return April 21, hurt his ankle in a play at first base against the Rangers.
Gil fielded a slow grounder hit by Rusty Greer leading off the bottom of the first. Gil was too far from the bag, so he tagged Greer, who slid into Gil's ankle.
Gil remained in the game as Gabe Kapler flied out to center for the second out. But with a 1-2 count on Alex Rodriguez, Gil limped off the field.
''It swelled up like a balloon,'' Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. ''We're going to give him some time.''
Gil was taken to a nearby hospital for X-rays, which were negative.
Utility player Clay Bellinger and right-handed reliever Brendan Donnelly have been called up from Triple-A Salt Lake and will join the team Saturday.
Donnelly was 0-1 with a 4.80 ERA in 12 spring games, while Bellinger, who played with the Yankees the previous three seasons, hit .261 this spring.
The Angels had hoped left-handed reliever Dennis Cook (bruised ribs) would be ready to come off the disabled list by Saturday, but he is not ready.
Cook will throw off the mound Saturday, and if he comes out of it OK he could be activated early next week when the team returns to Anaheim.
Rangers pitcher Ismael Valdes gave up two runs and five hits in eight innings against his former teammates. But like so many games in his past, he got the loss when the offense didn't support him.
''I was nervous,'' Valdes said. ''I was pitching in the first opening day game of my career against my former teammates. But it was a great game for me. My control was good. My off-speed pitches were working well today. I'm just trying to keep our team in the game and get the victory. I can't control the offense.''