Tim Salmon’s days as a major league player ended Sunday with the same kind of dignity and grace that typified his career, a workmanlike journey that was solid if unspectacular, but much appreciated by the community in which he worked for all of his 15 years in the big leagues.
His bid to hit his 300th home run came up short, stalling on 299 Sunday at Angel Stadium in front of 44,107 who watched American League West Division champion Oakland beat the Angels, 11-10, in 10 innings and Salmon get stranded in the on-deck circle at game’s end.
“This whole weekend has been kind of like a dream, in a sense, it’s been surreal, the way the game went,” Salmon said. “I’m running on fumes, the culmination of a lot of emotion. It was kind of strange. It was kind of anticlimactic at the end.... It seemed like that previous at-bat, not coming through, it was lining up for redemption, and it just didn’t.”
In Salmon’s previous plate appearance, with one out in the eighth and runners at second and third and the Angels behind, 10-9, Salmon popped out to shortstop. He received a standing ovation, raised his helmet over his head, vented his frustration under his breath inside the dugout, then returned for a curtain call. It was the final at-bat for the lifetime .282 hitter, who was the unanimous selection as the 1993 AL rookie of the year.
The day wasn’t a total loss. Batting third as the designated hitter, he walked and scored on Kendry Morales’ sacrifice fly to center field in the first inning, giving the Angels a 3-2 lead.
Salmon, 38, finished as the Angels’ career leader in tenure, home runs, walks (970), strikeouts (1,360) and runs (985) and is second in runs batted in (1,016) to Garret Anderson.
He was the 2002 comeback player of the year when he helped the Angels win their only World Series title, but sat out last season because of shoulder and knee surgery. He batted .271 in 207 at-bats this season with nine homers and 27 RBIs.
“Everything in his career, especially the last part, hasn’t turned to gold,” Manager Mike Scioscia said. “He’s struggled at times, he’s been injured, but how a guy bounces back and carries himself during the tough times is more important than when things are going well. Tim Salmon has played with class and dignity.”
If Manager Felipe Alou is fired by the San Francisco, it is expected that the club will seek permission to interview Angels pitching coach Bud Black, who said he’d be interested in talking if the Giants’ interest were real.
After giving up Jeremy Brown’s two-out double, Angels reliever Hector Carrasco was replaced by Brendan Donnelly, who walked D’Angelo Jimenez, then took Jay Payton’s line drive off the stomach. Donnelly made things worse, throwing the ball into right field, allowing Brown to score the decisive run in the 10th inning.
Angels catcher Jeff Mathis ended an 0-for-10 slump with a career-high three hits, including a three-run home run in the fourth inning to provide a 6-5 lead. He also had a double and finished with four RBIs. Dallas McPherson and Robb Quinlan also homered for the Angels.
Frank Thomas had four RBIs, three on a third-inning home run. His 114 RBIs are the most by an A’s designated hitter, surpassing Dave Kingman’s 112 in 1984.