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Snow Gets Job Done for Angels

June 11, 1996|MIKE DiGIOVANNA | TIMES STAFF WRITER

KANSAS CITY — It was a thing of beauty, J.T. Snow's 10th-inning home run, which traveled an estimated 430 feet, caromed off a wall in front of the fountains in right-center field and almost bounced out of Kauffman Stadium on Monday night.

But the longest homer of his career didn't top the first baseman's evening highlight list, because Snow's glove--not his bat--carried the Angels to a 7-5 victory over the Kansas City Royals before 15,691.

Had Snow not preserved a tie with a diving block of Johnny Damon's grounder in the bottom of the ninth, Tim Salmon wouldn't have had a chance to start a two-out, 10th-inning rally with a single off Royal reliever Tim Pugh.

And Chili Davis, starting his first game in more than a week, wouldn't have had the chance to follow Salmon with a game-winning, two-run homer to cap a four-for-five night.

And Snow wouldn't have been able to blast his third home run in two days, giving the Angels an insurance run in the 10th and a 7-4 lead.

And reliever Troy Percival would not have been able to notch his 14th save after being stuck on No. 13 since May 24.

"The game's over without that play," Snow said.

Snow thought the game was over even after making the play, at least his end of it.

Mike Macfarlane, who homered off starter Mark Langston to spark a three-run second inning, opened the ninth with a single off reliever Mike James. Keith Lockhart then singled, sending pinch-runner Chris Stynes to third with one out in a 4-4 game.

Chuck McElroy relieved James, and Damon, with the infield in, sent a shot toward the hole between first and second. Snow dove and got just enough of his glove on the ball to deflect it to second baseman Rex Hudler, who snagged it and threw out Stynes on a close play at the plate.

When Snow didn't field the ball cleanly, he buried his face in the infield turf, thinking it went into right field and the Royals had won. What he didn't realize was that Stynes had hesitated upon contact and didn't break for home until the deflection, giving Hudler just enough time to make the play.

McElroy then struck out David Howard to end the inning.

"It's such a funny, weird game," Snow said. "The ball bounces like that, we make the play and win. If it doesn't, we lose."

Langston didn't get the victory but found a groove after the second, retiring 15 consecutive batters before giving up Craig Paquette's bases-empty homer in the eighth, which tied the game, 4-4.

The left-hander went eight innings, giving up seven hits and striking out a season-high nine, leaving him one shy of 2,300 career strikeouts. McElroy's perfect relief work was rewarded with his first victory as an Angel, and Percival gave up an unearned run in the 10th while recording the save.

But the Angel pitching was overshadowed by a resurgent offense, which featured the return of center fielder Jim Edmonds, who singled in four at-bats, and Davis.

The Angels had 15 hits for the second consecutive game and, as they did against Cleveland on Sunday, they overcame a 3-0 deficit.

Salmon hit a solo home run in the fifth, his sixth homer in the past 10 games, and Damion Easley, playing because of shortstop Gary DiSarcina's hamstring injury, gave the Angels a 4-3 lead in the seventh with a two-run single, which followed Garret Anderson's single and Randy Velarde's double.

And then there was Davis, who had only one plate appearance in seven games because of a strained left hamstring but hardly seemed rusty. He singled in the first, fifth and eighth and hit his 11th home run of the season onto the grassy knoll beyond the right-center-field fence in the 10th.

"Sitting out for seven days, watching what has been going on, makes you realize you only get four at-bats a day and you've got to make the best of them," Davis said. "They've got to be quality at-bats, and if you make an out, so be it.

"This offense has been swinging at a lot of bad pitches. We lead the league in double plays and are last in sacrifice flies. I realized I was doing the same thing as everyone, swinging at bad pitches, swinging too hard. You just need to look for pitches you can drive."

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