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REPORT

Angels Offer No Excuses but Admit Frustration

October 17, 2005|Mike DiGiovanna | Times Staff Writer

The Angels don't believe their American League championship series hopes were torpedoed by umpire Doug Eddings' controversial trapped third-strike call, which enabled the White Sox to put the eventual winning run on base in the ninth inning of Game 2. "That didn't get us down," Manager Mike Scioscia said.

But they are convinced that Eddings' call on A.J. Pierzynski's third strike and the events that ensued -- pinch-runner Pablo Ozuna's stealing second and scoring the winning run on Joe Crede's double, Chicago's evening the best-of-seven series, 1-1 -- sent a surge through the White Sox, who won Games 3, 4 and 5.

"You can tell that call gave them a lift," Angel hitting coach Mickey Hatcher said before Game 5. "The guy steals second, they win the game, the place goes crazy. They were struggling just like we were. That little spark got them going."

The Angels have refrained from using questionable umpiring in the series as an excuse, but that doesn't mean they haven't been frustrated by the calls.

In the second inning of Saturday night's 8-2 Game 4 loss, the Angels were trailing, 3-1, with runners on first and third and one out when Steve Finley's bat nicked Pierzynski's mitt before Finley grounded to second.

A third of the way down the line, Finley turned back and pointed toward umpire Ron Kulpa, and the delay gave the White Sox just enough time to turn an inning-ending double play. Had catcher's interference been called, the Angels would have had the bases loaded with one out for Adam Kennedy.

"We went from a one-run inning to who knows how many runs we could have had," Hatcher said. "If we get that call, it might have turned things around. It was frustrating for everybody."

Ed Rapuano, the first base umpire Saturday night, also appeared to miss Angel reliever Scot Shields' pickoff of Scott Podsednik in the fifth inning of Game 4. Podsednik went on to steal second and score on Carl Everett's single to give Chicago a 6-2 lead.

"I'm sure they're not out there trying to miss calls," Scioscia said, when asked whether the umpires needed to perform better. "We haven't gotten many breaks, but we also haven't done what we've needed to do."

*

An Angel career that began when Jarrod Washburn was drafted in the second round out of the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh in 1995 and reached the big leagues for the first time in 1998 probably came to end Sunday night.

Washburn will become a free agent after the World Series, and when asked after the Angels' season-ending loss to the White Sox on Sunday night whether he expected to return to Anaheim in 2006, the left-hander responded, "No."

There was no bitterness in his voice, though.

"I understand that's part of the game," said Washburn, who went 75-57 with a 3.93 earned run average in 193 starts and was the ace of the 2002 team that won the World Series. "I've had a great time as an Angel. I've loved my whole career here. I understand the business side of it, as well. If this is, indeed, the end, I will only think of positive things about my time here."

*

It's rare for Scioscia to sacrifice defense for offense, but with the Angels struggling to pressure the White Sox, let alone score runs, the manager took a drastic measure Sunday night, moving left fielder Garret Anderson to center field so he could get the bats of Juan Rivera and Casey Kotchman in the lineup.

Rivera started Game 5 in left field, and Kotchman, who had two hits, including a run-scoring double in Game 4, started at designated hitter. Anderson, who lacks the range and experience of Finley, the Angels' usual starter in center, hadn't played center field since Oct. 2, 2004.

"As much importance as we put on defensive continuity, you have to weigh the needs of the club," Scioscia said.

*

Sunday's best of Ozzie Guillen:

On the street value of a World Series ring: "You cannot buy a World Series ring on the streets. Ask Alex Rodriguez, he's got millions of dollars and no rings. That's why I say, 'God bless Derek Jeter. He's got a lot of money and a lot of rings.' "

On walking away, if the White Sox win the World Series: "I could be with my family for the rest of my life or be with my players for the rest of my life. I'd rather be with the players."

On his next career: "Oh, I got a lot of jobs. Maybe not analyst on ESPN, because my English is not that good. I would sit next to Jerry [Reinsdorf] and criticize the players. That's an easy job."

On why he would write only a few reports when scouting the minor leagues: "In the minor leagues, you got three good players. Why do I have to send a report on the other 22?"

Times staff writer Tim Brown contributed to this report.

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