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ANGEL NOTES

The Molinas Are Brothers in Arms

October 14, 2002|--Mike DiGiovanna and Bill Shaikin | From Staff Reports

Amid the postgame celebration in front of the Angel dugout Sunday afternoon, the catching Molina brothers, Bengie and Jose, locked arms and somehow found time and space to pose for a picture.

That shot will have to be worth a thousand words, because the Molinas couldn't come up with enough of their own to describe the feeling surrounding the Kodak moment.

"There's not enough words to explain it," said Bengie Molina, who had a single during the Angels' 10-run seventh inning. "We go way back as kids in Puerto Rico, dreaming about going to the World Series. This is awesome. I'm so glad he's here with me. We always wanted to be part of a championship."

Not only was Jose, the Angels' backup catcher, part of the championship, he got to catch the final two innings Sunday, leaping three or four times in the air before Tom Prince's game-ending pop-up landed in shortstop David Eckstein's glove.

"Two years ago I was without a job, and the Angels gave me a chance," Jose said. "Look at where I am now, going to the World Series. That's amazing. And going there with my brother makes it that much better."

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Angel ace Jarrod Washburn will start the first game of the World Series, Manager Mike Scioscia said.

"It's going to be the biggest game of my life," said Washburn, who pitched seven strong innings Friday in the Angels' 2-1 Game 3 victory over the Twins. "Two days ago, that was the biggest game of my life. Now there's a bigger one."

The Angels plan to use Washburn, Ramon Ortiz, Kevin Appier and John Lackey as their starters in the World Series.

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Like many in the Angel clubhouse Sunday, Scott Spiezio, who tied a postseason record with two hits in the seventh inning, was armed with a bottle of champagne, but he wasn't looking for a teammate to douse.

He was looking for his father, Ed, a utility player for the St. Louis Cardinals, San Diego Padres and Chicago White Sox from 1964-72 and winner of World Series championships with St. Louis in 1964 and '67.

"We're not satisfied with getting to the World Series--we want to win it," Spiezio said. "My dad has two World Series rings, and I want one badly."

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Angel reliever Francisco Rodriguez, the 20-year-old wunderkind who had struck out 15 batters in 9 1/3 previous playoff innings, showed he was human Sunday. Replacing Brendan Donnelly with the bases loaded and one out in the seventh inning, the flame-throwing right-hander couldn't hold a 3-2 lead.

Unable to throw his nasty slider for strikes, Rodriguez walked pinch-hitter Bobby Kielty to force in the tying run, threw a wild pitch that enabled the Twins to score the go-ahead run and surrendered a sacrifice fly to Jacque Jones that gave Minnesota a temporary 5-3 lead.

Rodriguez, however, was credited with the victory after the Angels rallied in the bottom of the seventh, improving his playoff record to 4-0.

"I was trying to be too perfect and bounced a couple balls in the dirt," Rodriguez said. "You never expect to win a game when you come out of the bullpen. I guess I've been in the right place at the right time."

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Right fielder and No. 3 batter Tim Salmon had been hitless in 10 championship series at-bats before singling three times Sunday. "I thought for us to win I'd have to be a big part of it offensively," Salmon said. "But I did nothing this whole series, and here I am celebrating. That says a lot about this team. We all pick each other up."

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The happiest fan at Edison Field Sunday might have been Anaheim Mayor Tom Daly. It doesn't do much for a city's sports reputation when the Rams leave town, the Mighty Ducks have the worst attendance in the NHL and the Angels plod along through the decades without winning.

As the Angels celebrated their World Series berth, Daly pointed out that Los Angeles Mayor Jim Hahn had attended Saturday's game--and worn an Angel cap for part of the day.

"This is big for Anaheim. And the Dodgers have been struggling, so it's extra special for us," Daly said. "Maybe for the first time in Angel history, we've got Southern California bragging rights."

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Adam Kennedy's 13 total bases Sunday were an ALCS record, surpassing the previous high of 12 set by Kansas City's George Brett in Game 3 of the 1978 ALCS against New York.... The Angels have hit 17 home runs this postseason, including a playoff-record 14 solo homers.... The Angels scored 20 of their 28 runs in the ALCS in the sixth inning or later. In the final three games, 18 of the Angels' 22 runs came in the seventh inning or later.... Cleveland General Manager Mark Shapiro might ask for permission to interview Angel pitching coach Bud Black this week for the Indians' managerial vacancy. According to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Shapiro has narrowed his choices to Black, minor league manager Eric Wedge and Joel Skinner, the Indians' interim manager.

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