(Right-hander Dean Chance was an Angel for the team's first six seasons, then pitched five more seasons with the Twins, Indians, Mets and Tigers. His finest year was 1964 when, at age 23, he won the Cy Young Award by going 20-9 with a 1.65 earned-run average, 11 shutouts and 15 complete games. He was also a 20-game winner with Minnesota in 1967. His career record was 128-115. Chance, now a boxing promoter, is guest analyst for The Times for this World Series.)
I think this was the biggest game of the playoffs for the Angels, plain and simple.
They keep that offense going, shut the Giants down when they have to, guarantee that, at the worst, they'll be going back to Anaheim and, at best, can win the whole thing in San Francisco.
I have seen an awful lot of baseball in my time, but I don't think I have ever seen an offense quite like this Angel offense. They do everything. Everybody contributes, everybody does their thing, top to bottom. And they've really got their confidence going now, too, because they feed off each other. It's really something to watch.
But I'll tell you something, with all those hits and all those runs, two plays that might not have gotten a lot of notice were the keys to the game.
The first came in the first inning. The Giants had runners at first and third with one out and Barry Bonds coming up.
And the Angels walked him.
You see a great hitter walked all the time with runners at second and third, but Manager Mike Scioscia went ahead and walked him with runners at first and third. That takes courage. It was a gamble, a hunch. It was not the percentage move, but I think it was a smart move.
And I think it turned out to be a key play because the Angels got out of that inning allowing only one run. You saw what Bonds did later on. If he does that early, it's a different game
Now comes the fourth inning. The Angels are leading 4-1, but they know they are going to need more. They've got [Darin] Erstad at second and Tim Salmon at first. And Erstad leads the way on a double steal.
Once again, a key play.
They put the heat on the Giants with aggressive play and they go on to score four more runs and break the game open.
I love this Erstad. He's like an old-time ballplayer. He hits, he hustles, he's aggressive and he's smart.
As for the pitching, [Ramon] Ortiz wasn't in there long, but the biggest thing he did was to shut down the Giants in the third inning and the fourth, both times after the Angels had scored four.
That just took the heart out of the Giants.
On the other hand, when the Giants came up with their big inning in the fifth and Bonds hit that big home run, the Angels came back with a run in the sixth. Just the opposite message: No matter what you do, we will respond.