Angels 11, Giants 10
After the flood of runs had dried to a trickle and an out-of-control game had been stabilized by the work of two exceptional bullpens, after the Anaheim Angels survived -- temporarily -- their crisis of conscience over how to pitch to Barry Bonds, and after the San Francisco Giants became believers in the powers of a 20-year-old pitcher, Game 2 of the World Series was careening toward a defining moment.
It came with two outs in the bottom of the eighth, when Angels right fielder Tim Salmon smashed a two-run homer to give Anaheim an 11-10 victory, knotting the World Series at one game apiece.
Salmon, the longest-tenured and longest-suffering veteran on a team making its first World Series appearance in 42 years, whipped his bat at the first pitch from Giants reliever Felix Rodriguez and deposited it over the fence in left for his second homer of the game, scoring David Eckstein ahead of him, giving Anaheim a two-run lead and sending an Edison Field crowd of 44,584 fans into spasms of delirium.
"You had a feeling this game was going to come down to something like that," Salmon said. "That's something I've been dreaming about doing for a long time -- and watching it being done from my couch."
The Angels would have one more moment of trepidation -- provided, fittingly, by Bonds -- before it was over. Facing Angels closer Troy Percival with two outs in the ninth, Bonds hit a shot that sounded like a firecracker, soared like a rocket and landed some 15 rows deep in the stands in right-center. The homer cut the Angels' lead in half, but Percival got Benito Santiago to pop up to end the game.
After a day off Monday, the series will resume Tuesday night at San Francisco's Pac Bell Park.
Rookie phenom Francisco Rodriguez, the Angels' baby-faced slayer of a reliever, added another entry to a growing book of legendary feats, tossing three perfect innings -- striking out four and allowing only one ball to leave the infield -- to earn the victory. After entering the postseason with only two weeks of major league experience, Rodriguez is 5-0 in the playoffs, tying an all-time record.
Tonight's was an exhilarating game, featuring 28 hits, 8 pitching changes, 6 homers, 2 lead changes, 2 rundowns and 1 steal of home. The starting pitchers, Anaheim's Kevin Appier and San Francisco's Russ Ortiz, combined to record only 11 outs. Bonds was barely given a chance to get the bat off his shoulder, but served as the catalyst for most of the Giants' scoring simply by standing there.
"That was one of the best games I've ever been in," said Giants Manager Dusty Baker. "If this goes to seven games, the way these two games have been played, this is going to be as exciting a World Series as it was last year with the Yankees and Diamondbacks."
The Angels batted around and scored five runs in the bottom of the first; the Giants scored four times in the top of the second and four more in the fifth. Somehow, it wound up 9-9 entering the eighth.
"It was the most intense game I've ever been a part of," said Angels designated hitter Brad Fullmer. "It was quite a battle."
Five pitches into the game, it was 1-0. Eleven pitches in, it was 2-0.
The first four Angels batters reached on base hits. It was 5-0 before Ortiz could get the second out of the inning.
Things were so bad for the Giants, Fullmer stole home on the front end of a double steal -- the type of play Little League teams routinely pull off.
After going 1 for 8 with runners in scoring position in their Game 1 loss, the Angels were 4 for 7 in the first inning alone, helped along immensely by Ortiz, who fell behind 1-0 to seven of the nine hitters in the inning, and 2-0 twice.
Appier was almost as bad (and twice as slow) as Ortiz, lasting only two batters into the third inning.
After making a conscious effort to go after Bonds in Game 1 -- a strategy that cost them only one run, when Bonds homered in his first at-bat -- the Angels danced all around him tonight, and the toll was far more costly.
There is one situation in which it is perfectly sensible to pitch to Bonds -- when, in fact, it would be foolish not to: with a five-run lead and nobody on base. However, when Appier faced that situation in tonight's second inning, he inexplicably pitched around Bonds. The ensuing walk set up a four-run inning that wiped out all the momentum the Angels had built and almost their entire lead.
By the time Appier walked Bonds again in the third -- one batter after hanging a slider to Jeff Kent, who smoked it over the left field wall -- Angels Manager Mike Scioscia had seen enough.
Although it was not something he relished doing, Scioscia called on phenom rookie right-hander John Lackey, who dominated the Minnesota Twins in Game 4 of the ALCS and who had been scheduled to be the Angels' Game 4 starter. It was a classic example of playing for today and worrying about tomorrow later.
Lackey cleaned up for Appier in the third and breezed through the fourth. But a leadoff double by Rich Aurilia in the fifth caused the Angels to walk Bonds intentionally with one out with a 7-5 lead, even though he represented the go-ahead run. Again, the walk to Bonds wound up hurting the Angels. This time, right-hander Ben Weber entered and gave up singles to four of the next five batters. The Angels' 7-5 lead was now a 9-7 deficit.
If the Angels had an advantage in this type of game, it was that their bullpen was in better shape than the Giants, who had to use ace relievers Felix Rodriguez, Tim Worrell and closer Robb Nen in Game 1. The Angels, meantime, still had Francisco Rodriguez and Percival completely fresh.
Francisco Rodriguez, in fact, entered in the sixth and completely derailed the Giants. The much-anticipated meeting between Bonds and Rodriguez lasted all of one pitch, with Bonds grounding out into the heart of the Angels' infield-shift defense to end the sixth.
"That was incredible," said Scioscia of Rodriguez's performance. "That was the game right there."
Actually, that was only part of the game, a big part. The youngest and least-experienced Angel soon gave way to the oldest and most experienced. And with one swing of his bat, Salmon provided a memorable game with its defining moment, with the promise of so much more to come.