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ANGEL NOTES/ AMERICAN LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES

Molina Delights in a Rare Triple

October 13, 2002|--Bill Shaikin, Mike Hiserman and Helene Elliott | From Staff Reports

Angel catcher Bengie Molina feared he wasn't contributing to the team's success. "I haven't been swinging the bat the past month. Or the season, really," he said.

He made up for that in the eighth inning Saturday off Minnesota reliever Mike Jackson. He drove a fastball to right-center to score the final two runs of the Angels' 7-1 rout of the Twins, putting them in position to win the best-of-seven American League championship series today at Edison Field.

"I think I'm not going to go to sleep," an excited Molina said after his third career triple and first since 2000.

But he's probably tired enough after his baserunning exploits to nap for a while.

"I was running out of gas and almost stopped at second," he said, "and when I got to third, Ronnie [Roenicke, the Angels' third base coach] was saying something that I couldn't understand. I was trying to say something, but I couldn't talk."

His teammates kidded him heartily when the five-run inning ended.

"It's hard to believe," Scott Spiezio said, shaking his head. "I got credit for a stolen base -- stealing home too [in Game 2] and now this."

Outfielder Darin Erstad was equally incredulous. "I don't know what he had for breakfast," Erstad said "He actually ran pretty well. I'm just glad he didn't pass out when he got to third."

Said Manager Mike Scioscia: "Triples and Bengie Molina are like going 60 mph on the Hollywood Freeway. It doesn't happen too often."

*

Angel designated hitter Brad Fullmer, hit by dehydration and cramping during the late innings Saturday, required a 30-minute treatment of intravenous fluids after the game.

After the treatment, Fullmer said he felt fine, and athletic trainer Ned Bergert said Fullmer would be available to play today.

Fullmer said he felt dizzy while standing on second base after he doubled during the Angels' five-run eighth inning, but he wasn't sure whether the dizziness was caused by the dehydration, the loud crowd or both.

"There was so much noise it was making my head ring," he said. "It was unbelievable."

*

If the series returns to Minnesota, the Angels are leaning toward starting Ramon Ortiz in Game 6 and Jarrod Washburn, if necessary, in Game 7. The Angels had considered starting Washburn on three days' rest in Game 6, but Ortiz pitched a terrific game in the Metrodome last Wednesday, and that would leave Washburn available to start the deciding game of this series on regular rest--or to start Game 1 of the World Series.

*

California Gov. Gray Davis attended Saturday's game, joining Disney Chairman Michael Eisner in a private suite. Davis must have been thrilled to look up in the third inning and see an airplane towing an advertising banner that read: "Vote Bill Simon for Governor! Go Angels!"

*

Before the series, Angel closer Troy Percival asked Minnesota closer Eddie Guardado to meet him on neutral ground -- the laundry room between the teams' clubhouses -- to do him a favor.

Percival collects baseballs autographed by fellow closers of the past and present, and he wanted to add Guardado's signature to his collection. The Minnesota lefty obliged.

"I've been doing it for a while," said Percival, who counts autographs of Lee Smith, Trevor Hoffman and Orlando Hernandez among his keepsakes.

Given his success, collectors should be asking for his autograph. They do, "on and off," Percival said.

*

The Angels have scored 10 of their 15 runs in this series in the sixth inning or later. In the last two games, they scored eight of their nine runs in the seventh inning or later.... Angel center fielder Erstad was concerned for a moment he might have hurt himself on his futile dive to catch Doug Mientkiewicz's leadoff double in the eighth. However, he said later he was fine. "I think I rolled on the ball," he said. "It was not my shoulder, thankfully." ... Angel rookie Francisco Rodriguez has 13 strikeouts in 9 1/3 innings in the playoffs, setting a single-season record for most strikeouts by a reliever in postseason play.

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