ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) -With the
Los Angeles Angels
cruising along with a 7-0 lead after seven innings,
was kicking back in the bullpen, figuring he wouldn't get his chance to tie a record.
Then Seattle scored three runs in the eighth, put runners on first and second with no outs in the ninth, and Rodriguez got
the call. Greeted by rousing cheers as he took the mound, he got the final three outs Thursday night's 7-4 win for his record-tying
57th save of the season.
''When it was 7-0 in the seventh inning, I was just trying to chill and watch the game and relax. This is like the third or
fourth time it's happened to me like this. But after their bats started coming alive, I started getting ready,'' said Rodriguez,
who has 16 games left to try to top the major league record set by
with the 1990
Chicago White Sox
Los Angeles manager
also figured Rodriguez was getting the night off.
''When you're sitting on a seven-run lead, really the furthest thing from your mind is, when do you get your closer up?''
Rodriguez didn't know anything about Thigpen until it began to look as if he might make a run at the record.
''I didn't even know that he's the one that had the record. I didn't know about him until you guys (reporters) told me about
him before the All-Star break,'' he said. ''I started thinking I could get to the record a couple of weeks ago, and I started
thinking about it more and more the closer I got.
''I knew if the guys kept playing the way they've been playing, I was capable of doing it. That's what I get paid for. But
I've got to give the credit to my teammates and the guys who make the plays behind me. I'd be real selfish if I said I've
done this by myself.''
His chance to break the record is one of the remaining details of the regular season for the Angels, who clinched their fourth
AL West title in five years on Wednesday. None of those division titles have led to a World Series. Their only World Series
title came in 2002 as a wild card - when Rodriguez was a 20-year-old sensation in October.
He wants another.
''I'll tell you, I would trade the record for the ring. Obviously, my next step is to try to break the record, and after that,
win the championship,'' Rodriguez said. ''That's what I'm here for, and that's what I really want right now.''
He may be pitching his final season for the Angels. He has said he wants to test the free agent market after this season,
although both he and the Angels haven't ruled out a chance he will return.
with runners on first and second and no outs. He got
to ground into a double play, gave up an RBI single to
and a single to
before finally ending it on
's broken-bat grounder to first.
Rodriguez ran toward the bag on Ibanez's grounder, but first baseman
was able to make the play himself. Rodriguez lifted both arms, jumped and did a joyful little spin.
, a converted reliever who held the Angels to two runs in five innings in his second major league start, could only shake
his head at Rodriguez's numbers.
''For us, J.J. (Putz) had an unbelievable year last year, and he had 40 saves. Now Rodriguez has got 57,'' Morrow said. ''They
have (89) wins and he has that many saves. Wow. That's something.''
Although Rodriguez, who has developed a less violent delivery so he won't re-injure his feet on the landing, has not pitched
as many 1-2-3 ninths as in the past, he seems to be able to still turn it on when necessary.
''He has made some more games more interesting,'' Morrow said. ''But he knows when to turn up the intensity.''
, formerly with the Angels, also marveled at Rodriguez's accomplishment.
''How long has that record stood - 18 years? To even have that many opportunities just tells you how good that ballclub is.
And for him to be able to close the door that many times, that tells you he's a talented guy and he always has been ever since
he broke in with us in '02,'' Washburn said.
The 26-year-old Rodriguez has 203 saves and has blown six opportunities this year, one of those against the Mariners.
The right-hander from Venezuela went 5-1 in the 2002 postseason to help the Angels go all the way, in the process becoming
the youngest pitcher ever to win a World Series game.
had blanked Seattle on three hits over his six innings, and
drove in three runs before Rodriguez came on to a standing ovation.
Weaver (11-10) had missed more than a week after cutting two fingers in a dugout accident on Sept. 2. He struck out three
and walked three.
After taking a 2-0 lead against Morrow, the Angels jumped on reliever
for four runs and four hits during a five-run sixth.
and Anderson both singled in two runs, and
added an RBI single.
Morrow (2-3) gave up two runs and five hits, walked four and struck out four over five innings. The 24-year-old right-hander,
moved out of the bullpen and into the rotation, had taken a no-hitter into the eighth inning of his first start, a 3-1 victory
New York Yankees
The Mariners put up three runs against
in the eighth. Suzuki led off with his sixth homer,
doubled in a run and
singled in another.
Notes: The game was delayed for several minutes when home plate umpire Eric Cooper was hit in the chest by a foul tip off
Guerrero's bat. Cooper went down and remained there momentarily, was checked out by Angels trainer Ned Bergert and, when Cooper
lined up again behind the plate, received a rare - for an ump - ovation from the crowd. ... Beltre returned to the lineup
after missing two games because of a torn ligament in his left thumb and extended his hitting streak to 14 games with the
single in the ninth. ... Weaver cut his right index and ring fingers on staples under the dugout bench in Detroit during last
week's series. ... Anderson played in his 2,000th regular-season game for the Angels. The only other active player to reach
that total with one team is Atlanta's