Angels Sweep Up at the End
The Angels spared General Manager Bill Stoneman the indignity of adding another name to the group known as the Ones Who Got Away, a least-wanted list headed by the Chicago White Sox’s Bobby Jenks and Milwaukee’s Derrick Turnbow.
Like Jenks and Turnbow, who developed into closers after being left unprotected on the Angels’ 40-man roster, left-hander Jake Woods was claimed off waivers by Seattle for $25,000 last winter and was in line to win his first big league start after limiting the Angels to one run and five hits in 5 2/3 innings Sunday before the Angels came back to win, 3-2.
The Angels rallied against the Mariners’ bullpen, Garret Anderson tying the score with a two-out, run-scoring single in the eighth and Chone Figgins winning it with a run-scoring single in the ninth, the first walkoff hit of his career.
A seven-inning, 118-pitch effort from starter Ervin Santana on a day three key relievers were unavailable, and 1 2/3 scoreless innings from Brendan Donnelly (3-0) helped the Angels complete a four-game sweep of Seattle and remain 4 1/2 games behind first-place Oakland in the American League West.
While the Angels mobbed Figgins in celebration of their sixth win when trailing after seven innings, the Mariners trudged out of Angel Stadium having lost every game of an 11-game trip through Texas, Oakland and Anaheim, their longest losing streak since dropping a franchise-record 14 in a row in 1992.
“I was just surprised to find a hole,” said Figgins, who lined his game-winner against closer J.J. Putz to left-center field, several feet over the head of shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt, only two innings after lining out to Betancourt. “I told myself, if Betancourt caught that one I was going to go chase him off the field.”
Figgins provided a happy ending to what had been a frustrating afternoon for the Angels, who failed to score after Figgins doubled with one out in the third inning and after putting runners on first and third with one out in the fifth.
Orlando Cabrera and Vladimir Guerrero opened the sixth inning with doubles to cut the Angels’ deficit to 2-1, but the rally fizzled when Juan Rivera hit a first-pitch grounder to Woods, Anderson grounded out and Robb Quinlan popped out.
Cabrera walked and Guerrero singled against Rafael Soriano with one out in the eighth, and Rivera again seemed overeager, popping out to the catcher on the first pitch.
But Anderson, who has driven in 14 runs in his last 15 games, hit a ground-ball single to left field to drive in Cabrera and tie the score, 2-2. Reggie Willits opened the ninth with an infield single, took second on Jose Molina’s bunt and scored on Figgins’ single.
“We came back against some terrific arms,” said Manager Mike Scioscia, who returned to the bench after serving a three-game suspension. “For us to win like this has to give guys a certain measure of confidence.”
Santana gave up two runs and four hits, his only mistake a hanging slider that Richie Sexson drove over the center-field wall for a two-run home run in the fourth inning.
The right-hander walked five but pitched out of several jams before handing the ball to Donnelly to start the eighth, a timely display of durability considering that Scot Shields and Francisco Rodriguez, who each pitched in six of the previous nine games, and Hector Carrasco, who threw 46 pitches Saturday, were down.
“I made one mistake to Sexson, and after that, I kept my focus and said no more mistakes,” Santana said. “After they scored twice, I said, no more runs. I had to shut them down.”
The Angels remained undefeated since their benches-clearing brawl in Texas on Wednesday, an incident some players said they thought would bring the team closer together and perhaps serve as a spark.
“Sometimes, things like that can be a catalyst, but we’ve been building momentum long before what happened in Texas,” Scioscia said. “We’ve been playing better baseball since early July. These guys go onto the field expecting to win.”