07/12/2003 7:00 PM ET
Washburn jumps on the train
Left-hander shuts down Minnesota in 6-1 win
By Doug Miller / MLB.com
ANAHEIM -- And now, ladies and gentlemen, stepping to the forefront of the Anaheim Angels' suddenly resurgent starting rotation, let us introduce Mr. Jarrod Washburn.
Washburn, the left-hander who lost four of his previous five starts and saw his ERA balloon by almost a run and a half in the last month, must have had a straw dipped in the potion the rest of the Angels' starters sipped from two weeks ago.
On Saturday, he hopped on the momentum train and pitched one of his best games of the year, twirling seven five-hit innings and pacing the Angels to a 6-1 win over the Minnesota Twins before a sellout crowd of 43,174 at Edison Field.
"I haven't been real good my last five or six starts, but today was a big improvement in a lot of big areas," Washburn said.
Manager Mike Scioscia, who on Saturday signed a two-year contract extension, agreed.
"He showed how good he can be when he changes speeds and gets ahead."
With the win, the Angels improved to a season-best five games over .500 at 48-43. They ensured themselves of a series win over the Twins and have won four games in a row.
And the starters, embattled early in the year through inconsistent performances that put the team in a virtual magnetic lock with the .500 mark, have come alive at the right time.
Through Anaheim's last 15 games, 11 of which have been wins, the starting staff's cumulative ERA has been 2.83. Before the three rotations, it was 5.08. The work of the last two weeks has lowered the total ERA for Angels starting pitchers to 4.70.
And Washburn (8-9) put up some numbers of his own Saturday.
He got through seven innings in a tidy 101 pitches, 66 of them strikes, and only walked one batter while striking out five. The Twins' lone run came on a Denny Hocking solo home run in the fifth inning.
"It's something we expect of ourselves, to pitch better than we all have so far this season," Washburn said. "We all have a lot of pride. It feels good to pitch the way we're capable of."
The Angels' hitters, meanwhile, brought back memories of their instant offense circa the 2002 playoffs.
Twins right-hander Brad Radke entered the game as one of the supreme Angel-killers in the American League, with an 11-4 lifetime record against Anaheim and a 1.72 ERA.
He looked every bit the part for the first five innings, baffling the Angels with shutout ball and giving up just three singles and a walk while striking out six. Hocking's homer into the seats in left field in the fifth gave him what looked like an iron-clad 1-0 lead.
But as the Angels proved so painfully to the Twins in last year's AL Championship Series, there are nine innings in these games, and Anaheim came alive in the bottom of the sixth.
Scott Spiezio led off by stroking a line drive to right field that fell just in front of Twins right fielder Bobby Kielty. Kielty charged the ball but misplayed it, allowing the ball to scoot past him for a two-base error that left Spiezio on third.
Radke got Tim Salmon on a soft liner to short and struck out Garret Anderson, but Troy Glaus came through in the clutch, doubling to left to tie the game.
The Angels then put it away in the seventh, launching a four-run, six-hit rally.
Jeff DaVanon led off with a single and moved to third on a perfectly executed hit-and-run single by Adam Kennedy. Darin Erstad followed with a triple off the out-of-town scoreboard in right to make it 3-1.
That chased Radke in favor of lefty J.C. Romero, who was greeted with an RBI single by Spiezio on the first pitch.
The Angels then made it 5-1 in a hurry when Salmon beat out an infield hit and Anderson singled to knock in Spiezio.
Spiezio made it 6-1 with a bases-loaded sacrifice fly in the eighth.
"When Radke's on his game, he's tough to get anything off of," Erstad said. "Fortunately, we strung some hits together at the right time."
Angels reliever Francisco Rodriguez pitched shutout ball in the eighth and ninth to seal the win.
Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to approval by Major League Baseball or its clubs.