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BETWEEN THE LINES

It's a Chance Worth Taking

October 24, 2002|DEAN CHANCE

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 the age of 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.

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You look at a game like this with all those big hits and it comes down to the ball that was bunted up the line in the fifth inning by Kenny Lofton. If third baseman Troy Glaus had grabbed it a second earlier, it could have been different.

A play like Lofton's bunt single makes the difference. It puts two runners on with no outs and the Giants score the three runs they need to tie the score and break the Angels' momentum.

But that's baseball.

The Angels had been hitting so well you take it for granted. Until a game like this.

It reminds me of 1967. I was pitching for the Twins and we're in Boston on the last day of the season, playing for the pennant. I had them shut out entering the sixth inning. Then, even though they hit only one ball out of the infield, they scored five runs to win the game and the

pennant.

But that's baseball.

There is nothing Angel Manager Mike Scioscia could have done. Well, I take that back. Here I go again second-guessing, but I would have taken John Lackey out in the fifth inning. He was in trouble from the beginning. He got out of jams a couple of times on double plays, but then got right back into trouble.

Look, he had the 3-0 lead. He did his job. He got through four innings and, the way he was pitching, that was a miracle. So in the fifth, I send in the kid -- Francisco Rodriguez. That's my gambler's instinct.

I know they don't like him to pitch more than two innings, but hey, he's a young man, he has a live arm. He could pitch almost every day if he had to.

Yes, he gave up the winning run in the eighth, but you have to believe he might have kept the Giants out of that big inning in the fifth.

Another thing about this kid. Don't worry about him coming back in Game 5, Game 6 or Game 7. He's tough mentally and his team believes in

him.

My first year in spring training, I had a game where I struggled. Afterward, owner Gene Autry pulls me aside and tells me this story about a big rodeo he was in in Houston. He came out on Champion for his big moment, he told me, and the horse reared up and knocked him off. Here was a big star trying to make this rookie feel better.

That was Gene.

And I can see that's the way these guys are with Francisco Rodriguez.

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