August 19, 2012 |
Torii Hunter remembers the scene in the Metrodome clubhouse on Oct. 5, 2002, when the Minnesota Twins watched on television as shortstop David Eckstein caught Nick Johnson's popup to close the Angels' 9-5 American League division series-clinching victory over the New York Yankees. "We were all jumping up and down because we thought, 'Yeah, we're going to get the Angels!" said Hunter, the former Twins center fielder who is now in his fifth year with the Angels. "The Yankees owned us in the playoffs, and we had done pretty well against the Angels that year.
May 27, 2012 |
SEATTLE -- The term "closer by committee" is usually a misnomer, a phrase managers use when their struggling ninth-inning specialist is demoted and there is no other reliever in the bullpen dominant enough to fill the role. But when Manager Mike Scioscia uses the term these days, it might actually be true, which is stunning considering the state of his bullpen in April, when the Angels blew six of their first seven save opportunities and had only one reliable reliever, veteran left-hander Scott Downs . The arrival of Ernesto Frieri , who was acquired from San Diego for two minor leaguers on May 3, and a return to form by Jordan Walden , who lost his closing job to Downs on April 27, has changed everything.
April 18, 2012 |
MILWAUKEE — The Dee Gordon effect was evident in the eighth inning Wednesday night, as Milwaukee Brewers reliever Francisco Rodriguez could attest. With the score tied and Gordon having just stolen second base, Rodriguez spun three times and threw behind Gordon to second baseman Rickie Weeks, just to keep the speedy Gordon — the potential go-ahead run — closer to the bag. Milwaukee defeated the Dodgers, 3-2, in 10 innings, but the moment reaffirmed how Gordon's blazing speed can rattle opposing teams, and why it's crucial to the Dodgers' hopes this season that Gordon, their leadoff batter, get on base.
March 8, 2012 |
Reporting from Tempe, Ariz. — For much of the Angels' success from 2002 to 2009, when they reached the playoffs six times and won a World Series, their bullpen offered the security of a maximum-security prison on lockdown. Whether it was Francisco Rodriguez to Brendan Donnelly to Troy Percival, or Donnelly to Scot Shields to Rodriguez, or Darren Oliver to Shields to Rodriguez, Manager Mike Scioscia's key relievers routinely held late-inning leads. But sometime in 2010 — or maybe it was the end of 2009, when closer Brian Fuentes threw an ill-fated up-and-away fastball that Alex Rodriguez drove for a pivotal 11th-inning home run in Game 2 of the American League Championship Series at Yankee Stadium — the back of the Angels' bullpen, so sturdy for so long, began to buckle.
July 23, 2011 |
More deals brewing? The Milwaukee Brewers got a big jump on the rest of baseball when they traded for New York Mets closer Francisco Rodriguez nearly three weeks before the trade deadline. Don't expect the Brewers to stop there. With MVP candidate Prince Fielder unlikely to be back after this season, the Brewers are under pressure to win now and will probably continue tinkering with their roster in an effort to make that happen. One preseason trade that's gone all but overlooked has contributed mightily to making the Brewers contenders.
April 11, 2011 |
It was the thrill of a lifetime for Tyler Chatwood to stand on the Angel Stadium mound Monday night, with dozens of family members and friends in the house, an experience the 21-year-old right-hander described as "great, awesome. " There was one little problem, though. "I couldn't feel my body in that first inning," Chatwood said after his major league debut. "There's a lot of adrenaline going through you. You try to control it. " By the time Chatwood found his bearings, the Cleveland Indians had scored four runs and hit two home runs in the first two innings.