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Angels Classic Rewind | Dateline: June 2nd, 2002


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By Joe Haakenson, AngelsWin.com Contributor - 

JUNE 2, 2002

GAME 53 - ANGELS

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Angels and Minnesota Twins finished theirweekend series with nothing lost and nothing gained, other than maybe a littlerespect for each other.

The Angels held on for a 5-4 win Sunday afternoon before18,657 at the Metrodome to gain a split in the four-game series against theAmerican League Central Division leader.

 

 
Angels starter Aaron Sele (5-3) went seven-plus innings toget the win, getting help from the bullpen and support from the offense, whichincluded three hits each by Orlando Palmeiro and Garret Anderson.

Troy Percival threw a perfect ninth to finish it off for hisninth save, and the Angels returned to Southern California having split the sixgames on the trip to Kansas City and Minnesota.

During the Angels' hot stretch, the only team with a winningrecord against them are the Twins, who have won four of seven.

``Any time you come away from here with a win, it's going togive you a lift,'' Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. ``We played a very toughclub. I hope they're saying the same thing about us. I think both clubs showedneither club is going to quit.''

Sele has had trouble in the first inning this season, and hefound himself in a jam in the first on Sunday. He walked the first batter ofthe game, Jacque Jones, and two outs later, walked Corey Koskie.

Torii Hunter followed with a hard grounder that ate upshortstop Benji Gil, who made an error and loaded the bases. But Sele escapedwhen second baseman Adam Kennedy made a nice play on David Ortiz's grounder upthe middle.

After Sele gave up a solo homer on the first pitch of thesecond inning to Brian Buchanan, he found a groove. He didn't allow another hituntil A.J. Pierzynski's one-out double in the seventh.

``He locked himself in and found his (arm) slot,'' catcherJorge Fabregas said of Sele. ``He gained confidence as he went on. When hedoesn't feel confident, you could see him out there wondering at times. You cansee the frustration on his face and he becomes timid. But today he was moreaggressive. He finished his pitches strong.''

Sele gave up a season-high 11 hits in his previous startagainst Kansas City, but Sunday he gave up a season-low three hits. The differencefor Sele was his command, particulary with his curveball.

``When he's executing his pitches, you see what he can do,''Scioscia said. ``That's a good offensive lineup. One of the few mistakes hemade all day was the fastball to Buchanan. Aaron pitched a very effectivegame.''

Said Sele: ``We mixed our pitches well and the guys playedoutstanding defense. Any time you play in the dome crazy things happen, but theguys played well out there.''

The Angels took the lead in the fourth inning on consecutiveRBI singles by Fabregas and Gil for a 2-1 lead. They increased their lead to3-1 on an RBI double by Scott Spiezio in the fifth, and then 4-1 on an RBIsingle by Palmeiro in the sixth.

The Twins rallied with a run in the seventh to knock Seleout of the game, cutting their deficit to 4-2. But the Angels got a big run inthe eighth when Palmeiro tripled and scored on Darin Erstad's groundout.Palmeiro was a home run short of the cycle.

In the bottom of the eighth the Twins got a two-run homer byDoug Mientkiewicz off Dennis Cook. But that's as close as they got.

``It's good from our standpoint to win these close ones,''Angels right fielder Tim Salmon said. ``We really haven't had much of achallenge in the last month. `Challenge' isn't the right word, but we've playedwell early in a lot of games and had big leads.''

NOTEBOOK

MINNEAPOLIS -- While on his rehab assignment havingrecovered from thumb surgery, first baseman/DH Shawn Wooten strained a musclein his right side that will keep him out three to six weeks.

Wooten suffered the injury swinging the bat in Friday's gamefor Triple-A Salt Lake. He was about a week away from joining the big leagueclub after missing all season because of the thumb injury suffered March 13 ina spring training game.

``It's a big window because we don't know how long it'sgoing to be,'' manager Mike Scioscia said. ``But it's not something you messaround with.''

Wooten led the team in hitting last season with a .312average, but he missed the last month of the season because of surgery on hiswrist to repair cartilage damage.

``The last couple of years he's been banged up,'' Sciosciasaid. ``Before this he's been healthy. He got hit with a couple things and youcan't do much about it. I don't think his history says he's absolutely injuryprone.''

The Angels have made do without Wooten's bat all season, butScioscia says the club was looking forward to having him back.

``When Woot's swinging well he can hit righties andlefties,'' Scioscia said. ``He's an important part of the club. I wouldn't sayhis role is filled. We have a lot of confidence in (Benji) Gil, but I it's notlike we won't miss Woot.''

Wooten was hitting .294 (5 for 17) during his rehabassignment for Salt Lake.

*

The Angels finished the month with a record of 19-7, thebest month of May in the franchise's history. Overall, they are 31-22, fourthbest in the American League behind the Red Sox, Yankees and Mariners.

But the impressive record in May means little if the clubfolds in September, like it has in past seasons. In 1995, '97 and '98, theAngels led the division as late as August and September only to end up watchingthe playoffs on television.

``It's always good when you're playing well, but at the sametime you have to maintain the outlook that it's only May,'' said right fielderTim Salmon, who has the longest tenure with the club. ``We can't lose sight ofthe fact that we've got to keep playing this way for four more months. There'sa tendency at times when you're playing well to get complacent. We can't letthat happen.''

That might have happened in '95, when the Angels held an11-game lead in early August only to blow the lead and lose a one-game playoffto Seattle. That team had a lot of talent, but possibly some young players thatdidn't know how to handle the early success.

Salmon says this year's team is different.

``We have enough young players coming into their own withsome veteran leadership,'' he said. ``But with these younger players there is asense of maturity. I don't see the immaturity of, `Hey, we're on top of theworld.' ''

*

David Eckstein, who hasn't played shortstop since May 20when he sprained his left knee, is expected to start tonight's game atshortstop. In Eckstein's absence, the Angels have used Jose Nieves, AlfredoAmezaga and Benji Gil at shortstop.

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