Pinpoint control of a 97-mph fastball and a sharp-breaking curve aren't the only benefits of Troy Percival's good health.
With his shoulder and elbow sound after struggling through an injury-plagued 2000 season, the Angel closer has revived a slide-step delivery and a quickstep delivery from the stretch, and he needed both to save Thursday's 2-1 victory over the Devil Rays.
Speedy left fielder Jason Tyner opened the ninth inning with a single to right, but Percival mixed up his deliveries so well while striking out Steve Cox and Damian Rolls that Tyner wasn't able to get a good jump off first.
Tyner eventually stole second, but only after there were two out. Percival then struck out Randy Winn to end the game for his 25th save in 26 chances.
"I tried to slide-step last year, but it was too taxing on my arm," Percival said. "Now, my arm strength allows me to have velocity and control when I slide-step. [Tyner] is a fast runner. I've got to keep him on first at least until I get one out."
Percival's normal leg kick is so high, runners have little problem stealing against him. But with a one-run edge and the leadoff man on base in the ninth, Percival had to adjust.
On some pitches, he slide-stepped toward home. On others, he lifted his front knee in a quick, compact delivery to the plate. On others, he used his high leg kick. He also held the ball longer in the stretch before some pitches.
Devil Ray starter Bryan Rekar left Thursday's game after one inning because of tightness in his throwing shoulder. . . . Percival's save was his 13th against Tampa Bay and eighth at Tropicana Field, the most by any Devil Ray opponent. His 96% save percentage (25 of 26) leads the American League.
Opponent--Baltimore Orioles, four games.
Site--Camden Yards, Baltimore.
Radio--KLAC (570), XPRS (1090).
Records--Angels 47-48, Orioles 41-53.
Record vs. Orioles--0-2.
(7-7, 4.30 ERA)
(6-4, 2.65 ERA)
Update--Struggling right fielder Tim Salmon was activated from the disabled list after Thursday's game and reliever Scot Shields was optioned to triple-A Salt Lake City. There's a chance tonight's game could be postponed because of the derailment of a train carrying hazardous material near Camden Yards. If the game is called, it would probably be made up as part of a doubleheader Saturday.
Saturday, 4 p.m.--Pat Rapp (3-9, 4.78) vs. Willis Roberts (7-7, 4.98).
Sunday, 10:30 a.m.--Scott Schoeneweis (7-8, 4.91) vs. Jason Johnson (8-6, 3.36).
Monday, 9:30 a.m.--Ismael Valdes (6-5, 3.99) vs. Jose Mercedes (4-10, 5.55).