They wanted fire instead of lethargy. They wanted sock instead of punchlessness. They wanted to ditch the tag of the “laid-back Angels” once and for all.
So the Angels signed steely third baseman Dave Hollins to a nearly $6-million, two-year contract last winter. Once again, Hollins showed it has been money well spent.
Hollins homered twice Saturday, enabling the Angels to subdue the pesky Minnesota Twins en route to a 5-3 victory before an announced crowd of 19,147 at Anaheim Stadium.
Chuck Finley pitched five so-so innings, but picked up his third victory in his last four starts. Relievers Rich DeLucia, Mike James and Troy Percival then held off the Twins after Finley faltered.
And this time, the Angels made something out of their double-digit hitting attack.
Friday, they amassed 12 hits against Minnesota right-hander Bob Tewksbury, but lost, 4-3. Saturday, they belted out 12 hits and parlayed them into runs.
Hollins’ homers, both while batting right-handed against Minnesota left-hander Scott Aldred, ignited the Angels in the early innings. Hollins’ career success against Aldred (2-8) is remarkable--he has homered three times in five at-bats against him.
Percival, another fiery sort, sealed the deal by pitching a 1-2-3 ninth for his third save.
But this game belonged to Hollins, who has a diabetic condition and didn’t feel well enough to talk to reporters afterward.
“You know, there are guys who lead by example, who don’t stand up and holler in team meetings,” Manager Terry Collins said. “Dave Hollins leads by example. It’s spread. The other guys see how he prepares for games, how he works hard, how he plays with pain. They see that’s how you’re supposed to play the game.”
Hollins is not renowned as a home run hitter, however. Only once before Saturday had he hit two homers in a game.
“He’s not necessarily a home run hitter, that’s right” Collins said of Hollins, batting .306 with seven homers. “He is a line-drive hitter. He fills a lot of holes for us. He’s done a great job for us.”
Thanks to Hollins’ display of power, the Angels built a 5-1 lead by the third inning and sent Minnesota starter Aldred packing.
But the impending rout never materialized because reliever Frankie Rodriguez shut down the Angels quickly. The Twins began to chip away at Finley and the lead was down to 5-3 by the fifth.
Finley, who did not seem sharp after striking out the first two batters, lasted only five innings. He yielded to DeLucia after giving up three runs on six hits and making a whopping 101 pitches.
“His command was not real good,” Collins said of Finley, 3-4 with a 4.95 earned-run average. “He wasn’t in sync.”
Ron Coomer’s 430-foot, bases-empty homer over the left-field wall in the fourth was the most noteworthy hit Finley gave up. As in Friday’s 4-3 victory, the Twins pecked away with singles and walks.
In the fifth, Terry Steinbach grounded into a double play to score Chuck Knoblauch from third base and cut the Angel lead to 5-3.
The Angels managed little against Rodriguez, who entered the game with a 1-0 record and a 3.06 ERA (six earned runs in 17 2/3 innings) in his past 10 appearances.
The key hits stopped and the Angels couldn’t pad their lead.
Early on, Aldred seemed to be serving up batting practice to the Angels. Hollins hit his sixth homer of the season with two out in the first inning.
In the third, Hollins hit No. 7, a three-run homer. Garret Anderson, playing center field for only the second time in his major league career, delivered a run-scoring double and the Angels sent nine batters to the plate.
Aldred failed to make it out of the inning and Minnesota Manager Tom Kelly’s move to bring in Rodriguez enabled the Twins to stay within reasonable striking distance.