Comeback kids anything but clutch in Game 1Posted: Sunday October 20, 2002 2:17 AM
Updated: Sunday October 20, 2002 11:10 PM
By John Donovan, CNNSI.com
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- It's to the point now, if you've seen anything of these Anaheim Angels, that it's surprising when they don't come back.
Comebacks are their thing. Getting behind is no big deal to them. A little noise from the crowd, an appearance by the monkey, some aggressive baserunning, a couple of key hits, maybe a little luck and, suddenly, the game is won.
Saturday, in the first World Series game in their 42-season history, it didn't work that way. For one of the few times this postseason -- heck, one of the few times this year -- the hits simply didn't come at the right time.
"We expect to get it done in those situations," said Angels outfielder Darin Erstad. "And when someone doesn't do it, we expect the next guy to pick him up.
"But sometimes it doesn't happen. That's called baseball."
This has been a postseason of great comebacks for the Angels. They were down 6-1 in Game 3 of the American League Division Series against the New York Yankees and won. They were behind in Game 4 of that series, too, before scoring eight runs in the fifth inning on their way to another win.
And, of course, there was Game 5 of the American League Championship Series against the Minnesota Twins, when they were down 5-3 in the seventh -- and ripped off a 10-spot to win the AL pennant.
From the seventh inning on, the Angels have come back to win 18 times this season, including twice in the postseason. So Saturday, in Game 1 of the World Series against the San Francisco Giants, it seemed to be no big deal when they got behind 2-0. Troy Glaus hit a homer in the bottom of the second to make it 2-1. The Angels were on their way.
But, somewhere, the Angels lost their way. In the third, they wasted a leadoff double by Adam Kennedy. David Eckstein pushed Kennedy into scoring position with a slow groundout to second, but Erstad and Tim Salmon couldn't get him home.
Erstad swung through a neck-high 97 mph fastball from Giants starter Jason Schmidt, and Salmon flew out to center to end the inning.
"He threw very effective up in the zone," Erstad said of Schmidt, who had six strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings. "You don't see much of that in this league. That's the toughest pitch to lay off of. But it's an adjustment you have to make."
In the fourth, the Angels wasted a leadoff single by Garret Anderson. Troy Glaus popped up to second base and designated hitter Brad Fullmer struck out, but the Angels still had a chance when Scott Spiezio smacked a two-out double down the right-field line, putting runners at second and third with two outs. Then catcher Bengie Molina grounded out to second to end the inning.
In the fifth, after back-to-back singles from Eckstein and Erstad put runners at first and third with one out, the Angels stuttered again. Salmon popped up to first baseman J.T. Snow, who slipped on the artificial surface next to the netting in foul territory between the dugout and home plate, got up and still made the catch. Anderson then struck out to end the inning.
"We had some opportunities," said Fullmer, who was stranded at second in the second when Molina flew out to end that inning. "[Schmidt] made some pitches when he had to. He got out of trouble."
The Angels had eight chances for a hit with runners in scoring position in the game and went 1-for-8. They left eight men on in the 4-3 loss.
"We just didn't cash them in," Salmon said.
That's the first big upset of this World Series.