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Appier Is on the Hot Seat

After a shaky Game 2 stint only made better by Ortiz's even rougher outing, he'll start the biggest game of year.

October 25, 2002|MIKE DiGIOVANNA | Times Staff Writer

SAN FRANCISCO — On the right arm of pitcher Kevin Appier, the Angels' World Series hopes now rest.

Talk about a wing and a prayer.

If that right wing of Appier's doesn't flap any better than it did in Game 2 against the San Francisco Giants, the Angels won't have a prayer. Unless, of course, the Angel offense takes flight like it did last Sunday in Anaheim.

The Giants beat the Angels, 16-4, in Game 5 before a Pacific Bell Park crowd of 42,713 Thursday night to take a 3-2 advantage in the best-of-seven series.

The series shifts to Edison Field for Game 6 on Saturday, and unless Appier can stem the flow of hits and runs that poured off Giant bats in Game 5, San Francisco will likely win its first World Series title since 1954.

"We're backed into a corner now," Appier said. "Obviously, we were hoping to avoid something like this, but we still have two wins under our belt. Granted, our chances are not as good as they were a couple of days ago. That's an extremely tough team we're playing. But we've won two in a row before. We're not defeated."

Neither was Appier in Game 2. He was whipped, but he didn't take a loss, because the Angels battered Russ Ortiz, who will start Game 6 for the Giants, for seven runs on nine hits in 1 2/3 innings and came back to win the slugfest, 11-10.

The Angels staked Appier to a 5-0 lead with a five-run outburst in the first inning, but Appier gave up four runs in the top of the second, three on Reggie Sanders' home run, which came on an 0-and-2 pitch, and one on David Bell's solo home run.

Appier then gave up a solo home run to Jeff Kent in the third inning and was pulled after walking Barry Bonds. His final line for the 48-pitch outing: five runs on five hits, two walks and two strikeouts in two innings.

"My problem the other day was execution," Appier said. "It wasn't that many pitches I didn't execute on, they just jumped all over my mistakes. I've got to go over the game plan, and hope my stuff and execution are better."

If the first World Series appearance in their 42-year history ends in disappointment, the Angels may blame their rotation.

In five games, Angel starters have given up 24 earned runs on 33 hits, including eight home runs, in 24 innings for a 9.00 earned-run average. Left-hander Jarrod Washburn, the Angel ace who seems to thrive on big-game pressure, was rocked for six runs in four innings Thursday night.

"Give those guys credit," Appier said of the Giants. "They came in hot, and they've put up some ridiculous power numbers in the postseason. We haven't found a way to put together a really solid start against them. Hopefully, that will change."

Appier, acquired from the New York Mets for first baseman Mo Vaughn last winter, has some experience pitching in do-or-die situations. In Game 5 of the American League division series against the New York Yankees, Appier, then an Oakland Athletics pitcher, allowed one run in four innings of relief in a 7-5 loss.

"I threw real well in that game, so hopefully that experience will help Saturday night," Appier said.

Though Thursday night's game got out of hand when the Giants scored 10 runs in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings, things may have turned out differently had the Angels capitalized on a key scoring opportunity in the sixth.

The Angels trimmed a 6-0 deficit to 6-3 with three runs in the fifth, and Bengie Molina's single and Benji Gil's double put runners on second and third with no outs in the sixth.

David Eckstein grounded to short, Molina scoring to make it 6-4, but Darin Erstad was tagged out after tapping a weak roller toward first, and Tim Salmon, given the green light on a 3-and-0 pitch from Felix Rodriguez, grounded out to third.

"The Giants came out tonight ... wow, what can you say?" Erstad said. "They had it going on. But whether you lose by one or 12, it's a loss. We've got to keep battling, turn the page and get ready for Saturday ... It would make a good story if we won two games, wouldn't it?"



Second Time Around

Not many seem to have high hopes for the Angels going into Game 6 with Kevin Appier on the mound, but he has been better the second time he has faced a team this season. A look:

*--* IP H ER BB SO W-L ERA First time 48 44 17 13 34 4-2 3.19 Second time 54 2/3 43 15 14 37 5-2 2.47


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