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Scioscia Still Goes With First Guess

October 03, 2002|Bill Shaikin,Steve Springer,Larry Stewart

NEW YORK — The Angels lost in the 1986 playoffs, and to this day fans ask why Manager Gene Mauch yanked Mike Witt. The Dodgers lost in the 1985 playoffs, and to this day fans ask why Manager Tom Lasorda let Tom Niedenfuer pitch to Jack Clark with first base open.

If the Angels lose this series, the question will dog Manager Mike Scioscia forever: Why didn't you use Troy Percival?

One day after the Angels' 8-5 loss to the New York Yankees in Tuesday's division series opener, in which Percival remained in the bullpen while the Yankees scored four runs in the eighth inning, Scioscia insisted he did not regret losing the game without using his closer, although he said he spent "eight hours tossing and turning" before deciding he made the right decision after all.

"If I had gotten up this morning and it first occurred to me that we could have brought Percival in, I would have second-guessed myself," Scioscia said.

The situation in question: With the Angels leading, 5-4, and two out in the eighth inning, the Yankees had the tying run on second base and the go-ahead run on first. With Jason Giambi up, Scioscia opted to summon Scott Schoeneweis rather than use his best reliever to face the Yankees' best hitter.

Giambi tied the score with a hard-hit single off the glove of first baseman Scott Spiezio, and Bernie Williams followed with the game-winning home run, off Brendan Donnelly.

In five career at-bats off Percival, Giambi had struck out every time. In 20 at-bats off Schoeneweis, Giambi had five hits--three of which, Scioscia said, were infield singles.

The Angels had used Percival four times this season to get the final out of the eighth inning. He blew the save twice--once against the Yankees, on a home run by Williams. In Game 2, Percival struck out Derek Jeter to end the eighth, then gave up a run in the ninth, with Giambi getting a single.

Scioscia was widely roasted for his Game 1 decision. The New York Post picked a "stud and dud" of the game and proclaimed Scioscia the dud, running a picture of him with the caption: "Where was Percival?" Former Angel third baseman Doug DeCinces, still cringing at the thought of Mauch using Luis Sanchez instead of Andy Hassler in relief in the 1982 playoffs, said Scioscia was a fine manager who made "a huge mistake."

Still, Scioscia didn't hide from the fallout Wednesday. In a pregame session with dozens of reporters, before any questions could be asked, Scioscia grinned widely and said, "Who would have brought Percival in? Give me a show of hands! Everybody's hand has got to go up!"

If the Angels lose the series, Scioscia understands the questions about his decision will not stop.

"I'll talk about this all winter if you guys want to keep calling my home," he said. "I don't care."


The Cleveland Indians are leaning toward retaining interim manager Joel Skinner on a full-time basis, but they would like to interview Angel pitching coach Bud Black for the job before making a decision. Cleveland General Manager Mark Shapiro said that he would defer asking for permission to talk to any candidate working for a playoff team until that team is eliminated, so that those candidates could focus on playoff preparations.

Black, 45, pitched in Cleveland for four seasons.


This just in: The New York Daily News reported Wednesday that the Yankees already have qualified for the 2003 playoffs. In discussing outfielder Raul Mondesi's plan to retire after his contract expires next season, the Daily News reported that unless Mondesi changes his mind, this postseason would mark "his second-to-last trip into October."


Brian Downing and Bobby Grich, the only two players on each of the Angels' three American League West championship teams (1979, 1982 and 1986), will throw out the ceremonial first pitches before Friday's game in Anaheim.

Bill Shaikin


For 80 years, Yankee Stadium has served New York as a source of civic pride and as a historical landmark. But since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, it also has served as a makeshift memorial site, according to Yankee General Manager Brian Cashman.

"We get a lot of calls," Cashman said, "from people who lost loved ones on that day, loved ones who were huge Yankee fans. There were no remains to bury, meaning they don't have a cemetery to visit. So instead, they come here because it allows them to feel close to the loved one. They can reflect here. They will go to church and then come here because they have no other place to go. They can't go to a grave site because there is none."

Steve Springer


The Yankees may have beaten the Angels in Game 1 Tuesday night, but Los Angeles edged New York in the television ratings.

The Fox telecast averaged a 15.9 Nielsen rating with a 26 share of the audience in L.A., compared to a 15.8/24 in New York.

What makes this particularly surprising is the fact the game began at 5 p.m. in L.A., yet in New York it began at 8 p.m. and was on during prime-time hours.

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