Peter Bourjos shows all his tools in Angels’ 9-3 win
Reporting from Minneapolis
Peter Bourjos has blazing speed, the one tool you can’t teach and that never goes into a slump, but the 23-year-old center fielder knows that to stick with the Angels, he will have to do more than run really fast.
“You have to produce up here,” Bourjos said. “If you can just run but you’re not getting on base, you’re not getting hits, you’re not going to stay. You’ve got to produce on defense and offense.”
Bourjos, showing there is more to his arsenal than speed, produced in a big way in Target Field on Saturday, leading the Angels to a 9-3 victory over the Minnesota Twins that moved them to within seven games of Texas in the American League West.
He showed power, lining a two-run home run to left field, his first in the big leagues, in the second inning and a run-scoring triple to right-center in the fifth. He showed a strong arm, gunning down Delmon Young at the plate to thwart a rally in the bottom of the fifth.
And, of course, he showed speed, though it was on a play that didn’t require much of it. Bourjos’ shot in the second, which tied the score, 3-3, produced what might have been the fastest home run trot in recent history.
“I didn’t think it was going out,” said Bourjos, who plans to give the home run ball to his father, Chris, whose first big league hit was a homer. “I hit it good, but I thought it would hit the top of the wall or something. I really didn’t know it went out until I got to third base. I hit second, I was looking for the signal, and I didn’t see anything.”
Bourjos seems to be rubbing off on his teammates. Even Hideki Matsui, the 36-year-old with balky knees, went from first to third twice on hit-and-run singles by Erick Aybar.
“I think I’m faster than Rickey Henderson,” Matsui joked through an interpreter. “My legs have felt good all year.”
So good that in the sixth, Matsui made it all the way to third on a drive that center fielder Denard Span dropped at the warning track after a long run. Matsui was laughing after the play, which was ruled an error.
" Torii [Hunter] and I had a bet that I’m going to hit a triple,” Matsui said. “I looked at the scoreboard, and it became an error. If they change it, I will be happy, and Torii will be disappointed.”
What was the bet?
“I can’t go into details,” Matsui said.
That was the tone in a clubhouse filled with laugher and banter, the kind of atmosphere that has been missing for much of this disappointing season.
A game like Saturday’s, when the Angels won despite issuing nine walks, six by starter Trevor Bell, and banged out 16 hits to beat the hottest team in baseball, will do that.
Minnesota turned three walks and two singles into a three-run first, but the Angels countered with four in the second, which featured singles by Matsui and Aybar, Mike Napoli’s sacrifice fly, and homers by Bourjos and Bobby Abreu.
After hitting his RBI triple in the fifth, Bourjos got the Angels out of a one-out, bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the fifth, catching Young’s fly in medium center and firing a one-hop throw to catcher Jeff Mathis, who did a masterful job of scooping the ball, blocking the plate and applying the tag on Jason Kubel.
Though replays showed Kubel was safe, it was still an impressive effort by Bourjos and Mathis.
Rookie reliever Francisco Rodriguez gave up one hit in 2 2/3 scoreless innings to earn his first big league victory, providing important length out of the bullpen on a day reliever Kevin Jepsen was sent back to the team hotel before the game because of illness.
“There aren’t many games where you’re going to walk nine and still have a chance to win,” Manager Mike Scioscia said. “But a lot of good things happened on the field. This was really a good bounce-back game for us.”
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