Former Dodger pitcher and Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax, a good friend of Angel Manager Terry Collins, was at Tropicana Field Monday night, just as he was for the first three games the Angels played there in April.
And, just as they did during their previous three-game sweep of Tampa Bay, the Angels beat the Devil Rays, 4-2.
"We're 4-0 with Sandy," Collins said. "He may be going with us to Texas [Wednesday]. He's already been invited."
Unfortunately for the Angels, Koufax, who lives in Vero Beach, Fla., has some business matters to attend to and won't join the team in Texas, but at least a little piece of his world-class curveball will remain with the Angels.
Koufax gave closer Troy Percival some advice before the game, and Percival incorporated it immediately, throwing his curve with much better command--and for strikes--in a scoreless ninth inning for his 40th save.
"We worked on my grip this afternoon, and it made a big difference for me," Percival said. "He used the same grip on his curve that I do but told me I was getting my thumb in the way. The difference is the pressure I put on my thumb."
"Troy found a little curve tonight," he said. "If he can throw that pitch consistently, he will be real tough."
Collins had no idea Monday that the Angels had gone three for three in coin flips, earning home-field advantage for possible one-game playoffs against Texas for the American League West title or against Boston or Toronto for a wild-card berth.
Told he had won the coin flips, Collins asked, "Are we kicking or receiving?"
It would not be a reach to say that Angel right-hander Ken Hill, scratched from Monday night's game against Tampa Bay, will make his next start Friday against Seattle. But it could be a stretch.
Hill, who has been suffering from inflammation in his surgically repaired right elbow, said he will probably pitch exclusively from the stretch--just like teammate Jack McDowell--to relieve stress on his elbow.
"It would be a big adjustment to change my delivery right now," Hill said. "If I did that I'd have to find something that's comfortable for me and wouldn't mess up my mechanics."
Gregg Jefferies left the game in the eighth inning Monday night after re-injuring his left hamstring while legging out an infield single. "It's all right, don't make a big deal about it," he said. "I've played through it before, I'll do it again." . . . Angel third baseman Troy Glaus was named minor league player of the year Monday by Howe Sportsdata International after combining for 35 homers and 93 RBIs for double-A Midland and triple-A Vancouver.
ANGELS' JEFF JUDEN (1-2, 6.53 ERA) vs. DEVIL RAYS' ROLANDO ARROJO (13-12, 3.67)
St. Petersburg, Fla., 4 p.m.
Radio--KRLA (1110), XPRS (1090).
* Update--The Angels are hoping Juden can give them the kind of effort they got from Omar Olivares Monday night.