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More Power to Giants

They hit three home runs to overcome two solo shots by Glaus in opener

October 20, 2002|Bill Shaikin | Times Staff Writer

If the Angels win the World Series, they ought to nudge the rally monkey aside and adopt Alfred E. Neuman as their mascot.

The "What Me Worry?" Angels did it again Saturday, reprising their unintentional but highly effective strategy for success this year. They lost the season opener, then made the playoffs. They lost the first game of the division series, then won the series. They lost the first game of the American League championship series, then won the series.

And they lost the first game of the World Series on Saturday, 4-3 to the San Francisco Giants. The Giants won a home run derby, against a team poorly equipped to compete in one.

Troy Glaus homered twice for the Angels, both solo shots, becoming the sixth player to homer twice in his first World Series game. The Giants trumped that with solo shots from Barry Bonds and Reggie Sanders and a two-run blast from J.T. Snow.

And so again, this time in their last series of the season, the Angels trail a series, one game to none.

"We've been here before," Angel designated hitter Brad Fullmer said. "I don't think anyone's going to panic."

Indeed, this was the playoff opener at Yankee Stadium all over again: Glaus hits two homers, ace Jarrod Washburn gives up three, Angels outhit the other guys and lose.

The Angels are 0-3 in playoff openers this fall, 7-0 in all other playoff games.

However, this series is the first in which the Angels hold home-field advantage and this was their first loss at home in the postseason. They must win tonight or wade into Pacific Bell Park with the Giants in a commanding position.

"We've played well on the road, and we've played well at home," center fielder Darin Erstad said. "So I don't buy into that stuff."

Said right fielder Tim Salmon: "I don't know, with this club, if it's that huge of a deal. I don't want to downplay it, and I don't expect it to be easier to play there, but we've got the kind of club that usually plays well regardless."

They did not play well Saturday. Bonds did not beat the Angels, despite over-the-top hype that suggested the Angels were facing the king and his court.

San Francisco starter Jason Schmidt beat the Angels, throwing as hard as 98 mph and striking out six in 5 2/3 innings. The San Francisco bullpen beat the Angels, with Felix Rodriguez, Tim Worrell and Robb Nen getting the final 10 outs without giving up a hit.

Snow beat his old team, with the home run in the sixth inning that gave the Giants a cushion they would need, and with a spectacular catch of a pop foul on which he slipped, fell on his butt, jumped to his feet and made the catch.

And the Angels beat themselves. In seven at-bats with runners in scoring position, they had one hit. In a game they lost by one run, they twice stranded a runner at third base with one out. Erstad struck out the first time and Salmon fouled out the second time -- that was the ball Snow caught -- on occasions when a hit or even a fly ball would have scored a run.

However, in Glaus they trust. He tied a major league record with his sixth home run of the postseason.

"Don't change his meals," Erstad said. "Don't change his sleep."

The Angels pitched to Bonds with honor and with smarts, and with flashbulbs popping from every direction in the ballpark.

The smartest strategy, of course, is to make sure Bonds does not bat with runners on base. He never did. Jeff Kent, batting ahead of Bonds, failed to hit the ball out of the infield in four at-bats.

Washburn retired the Giants in order in the first inning, so Bonds led off the second. Washburn threw two balls, then a strike, and then the most feared hitter in the game redirected a really bad pitch really far over the right-field fence.

"I set up low and away," catcher Bengie Molina said. "We left it up and in, and he made us pay."

Should the Angels have walked Bonds? Wouldn't have mattered, as it turned out.

One out later, Sanders homered, and so the Giants would have led 2-0 either way.

Bonds batted again in the fourth inning, and Washburn struck him out, on a 3-2 fastball, high and inside.

In the sixth, with the Giants up 2-1, Bonds led off and grounded out to first baseman Scott Spiezio. Benito Santiago struck out, but Sanders singled and Snow homered, and that was all for Washburn.

The Giants would not score again. In his last at-bat, with one out and none on in the eighth inning, Bonds walked, on four pitches from Scott Schoeneweis.

"We're not worried about Barry Bonds that much," Molina said. "We're more worried about the other guys. We're worried about guys like Sanders and J.T. Snow and Benito Santiago."

Said second baseman Adam Kennedy: "If we can hold Barry to a solo home run every game, we'll be OK."

They did, they lost, and they trail the series, one game to none. To the Angels, they're OK.



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