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Plenty to Talk About After Dramatic Win

Angels: Percival gets first save at Jacobs Field in 3-2 victory and Glaus atones for error with a 10th-inning home run.

May 30, 2000|MIKE DiGIOVANNA | TIMES STAFF WRITER

CLEVELAND — A Troy Percival save in Jacobs Field, a game-winning homer by Troy Glaus, five no-hit innings by Jarrod Washburn against one of baseball's most potent lineups, two runs batted in by .189-hitting shortstop Benji Gil and an emotional reunion with death-defying pitcher Kent Mercker, all in the same afternoon?

It was a most fulfilling Monday for the Angels, who got a pregame visit from Mercker and then defeated the Cleveland Indians, 3-2, before 42,888 when Glaus atoned for a costly eighth-inning error by golfing a low curveball from Steve Karsay into the left-field bleachers to lead off the 10th.

Percival, who entered with an 0-6 record and 8.41 earned-run average against the Indians, made it stand up in the bottom of the 10th, conquering his Jacobs Field demons by blowing a 97-mph fastball past Alex Ramirez for strike three with two on for his first save in the Indians' home park.

The inning included a bold move by Angel Manager Mike Scioscia, who instructed Percival to intentionally walk Roberto Alomar--who represented the winning run--after Omar Vizquel had doubled with two outs.

Alex Ramirez, pinch-hitting in the cleanup spot vacated by the injured Manny Ramirez in the eighth, couldn't catch up with Percival's most lively fastballs of the season, and the Angel closer set him down for his American League-leading 15th save.

"For me, Roberto Alomar is a guy you don't want to give a chance to tie the game to," Scioscia said. "I have a lot of confidence in Percival against anyone, but I felt a lot more comfortable with him against Ramirez. "

So was the one to pull Washburn after five innings, even though the young left-hander had a no-hitter with five strikeouts. Washburn felt some tightness in his left shoulder after Wednesday's start in Minnesota and his weekend bullpen workout, and he had trouble getting loose again Monday.

After retiring the Indians in the fifth, Washburn spent the entire top half of the sixth trying to convince Scioscia and pitching coach Bud Black to leave him in, but Scioscia went to reliever Al Levine, who responded with two scoreless innings.

"Jarrod's not going to be an attorney, because he lost the argument," Scioscia said. "As much as he wanted to win, we have to look at the big picture and the long-term impact. I know it was the right decision, and he'll bounce back. He should make his next start."

Despite managing only two hits against Indian rookie right-hander Jim Brower, the Angels held a 2-0 lead in the eighth after Gil, who only had six RBIs in 41 previous games this season, knocked in runs with a groundout in the third and a fielder's choice in the eighth.

But an Angel defense that got away with three errors in Sunday's 8-4 victory at Kansas City paid dearly for two miscues in the bottom of the eighth.

Kenny Lofton led off with a chopper that squirted out of Glaus' glove at third. Glaus recovered in time, but his throw pulled first baseman Scott Spiezio off the bag for an error.

Reliever Mike Holtz struck out Vizquel, and Scioscia summoned right-hander Shigetoshi Hasegawa to face Alomar, who hammered Hasegawa's first pitch to right for a single, advancing Lofton to third.

Hasegawa got Manny Ramirez to ground a tailor-made double-play ball just to the right of second base, but Angel second baseman Adam Kennedy bobbled the ball as he tried to shovel it to Gil at second. Lofton scored to make the score 2-1, and Alomar reached second.

Compounding Angel frustration: Ramirez suffered a strained left hamstring on his way to first and hobbled to the bag, making him an even easier mark for a double play.

David Justice followed with a game-tying RBI single to left that turned into an inning-ending double play when left fielder Darin Erstad threw out pinch-runner Dave Roberts trying to advance to third and Glaus, after swiping Roberts with a tag, made a perfect throw to cut down Justice at second.

"It's not the way you draw up a double play," Gil said, "but it worked."

So did the strategies of Glaus and Percival in the 10th.

"I wasn't up there trying to win the ballgame, I was looking for a pitch to drive so I could get into scoring position," said Glaus, whose home run was his 16th of the season. "I was fortunate to get it in the air and get it out, but my job there was to be a leadoff hitter."

Percival's job, as always, was to nail down an Angel victory, but in Cleveland, the hammer always hits his thumb--he was 0-3 with a 19.06 ERA and three blown saves in Jacobs Field before trying a different approach Monday.

"[Former Angel pitcher] Jack McDowell once told me that every time I pitch against these guys I try too hard," Percival said. "So I just tried to keep everything easy. I'm not going to dwell on any negatives with these guys anymore."

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