Series Turns Into Washout for Washburn, Anderson
One was their ace. The other was their MVP.
Jarrod Washburn and Garret Anderson entered October at the front of the giddy, high-stepping Angel parade.
They left Pacific Bell Park Thursday on their backs, the marchers dazed, the music a dirge.
The Angels’ 16-4 loss to the San Francisco Giants in Game 5 was about a baseball bromide as old as the look in Mike Scioscia’s eyes.
You can reach a World Series with Ecksteins and Erstads and Kennedys and Lackeys.
But you cannot win a World Series without the Washburns and Andersons.
You can fight your way to the top with rally monkeys, but you cannot own it without lions.
Despite the talk about the Angels’ whole being greater than the sum of their parts, there were two parts that needed to be occasionally stronger than the others.
Somewhere between the Minnesota Twins and Thursday, those parts were lost in shipment.
Washburn, the staff ace, has been trumped for an 0-2 record and 9.31 earned-run average.
Anderson, the staff slugger, has come to bat with 22 runners on base yet driven in just three runs with no extra base hits.
Washburn has unintentionally walked five runners in 9 2/3 innings, with three of those walks Thursday leading to runs.
Anderson virtually walked to a foul ball in the second inning that, if he had caught, could have changed the game.
One need not witness the carnage, but simply read that accident report, to understand why the Angels trail the Giants three games to two.
Said Washburn: “I just didn’t do the job. I have no excuses.”
Said Anderson: “I’m just trying not to do too much, because that’s how you get in trouble.”
The good news for Angel fans is that the series returns to Edison Field for the weekend.
The bad news is that only 33% of the teams in baseball history have recovered from a similar deficit.
The good news is that last year, the Arizona Diamondbacks used Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling to sweep their two weekend games against the New York Yankees to win the championship.
The bad news is, the Angels must rely on Kevin Appier and Ramon Ortiz.
Maddening and Madder.
“The bottom line, we need something to change the momentum,” said David Eckstein. “We need somebody to make something happen.”
That somebody can no longer be Washburn, unless he is able to throw a heroic Big Unit-type inning or two in Game 7.
Pitching more innings than he has pitched in his life, it appears he has hit a wall that cannot be leaped this late.
“I’m tired, sure, but ask anybody around here and they’ll say they are tired,” he said.
Washburn came into the playoffs with the most Angel wins (18) and the lowest ERA (3.15).
He leaves it with a worse portfolio than Chad Zerbe.
But at least there is no doubt that, whatever Washburn had left, he left it on the field.
With Anderson, unfortunately, there is always that doubt, even in the playoffs.
Remember when he didn’t run hard on the bobbled grounder against the Yankees, an out that could have cost the Angels the game?
It seemed to happen again Thursday, on the first pitch of the second inning, when Kenny Lofton lifted a foul ball into left-field foul territory.
Running back from his position at shortstop, Eckstein lunged and put his glove on the ball. It then fell to the ground before he somersaulted across the tarp.
All while Anderson was jogging in from left field.
“I just ran as hard as I could,” Eckstein said.
Could Anderson have made the play easier?
“I just ran as hard as I could,” Eckstein repeated.
Anderson, who claimed he was not bothered by a reported tender hamstring, said he could not have caught the ball.
“It just fell straight from the sky,” he said. “It fell straight to the ground.”
Two pitches later, Lofton singled and started a three-run outburst that could have been prevented if Anderson made the catch.
Anderson later struck out with two runners on base, adding to the woes of a player who led the team during the regular season with 123 runs batted in and 344 total bases while finishing second with 29 homers.
“He’s a little out of sync,” said batting coach Mickey Hatcher. “But he’s working on it. And he’ll get there, you watch. When we need a big hit, I know he will be there.”
The Angels can only hope.
Anderson said it’s going to be tough.
“They’re making sure I don’t hurt them,” he said of Giant pitchers who apparently aren’t giving him much to hit. “But that’s the way it’s supposed to be.”
Yes, it is.
And it’s also supposed to be that great players in big games deal with it.
The Giants’ cleanup hitter is dealing with it.
The Angels’ cleanup hitter is not.
Guess which team is on the verge of cleaning up, and guess which team is not.
Bill Plaschke can be reached at email@example.com.