© 2008 MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.
07/11/08 2:02 AM ET
Angels win slugfest on a bloop
Halos lose large lead, but hold on for victory in extras
By Shawn Shroyer / MLB.com
ARLINGTON -- It was the 36th time Francisco Rodriguez has done it this season. With hands raised to the sky, Rodriguez signaled another victory for the Angels. It's the signature move for the Angels' calm, cool and collected closer. But Rodriguez didn't look so calm, cool and collected just minutes prior. With a runner on first and no outs in the 11th, Texas' Max Ramirez popped a bunt attempt directly at Rodriguez. However, Rodriguez overran the bunt and it sailed over his head, landing safely. But the play wasn't over. The runner at first had held and Ramirez didn't run the ball out, so a double play was in order. Rodriguez fielded the ball, but didn't set his feet and his throw to second wound up in the outfield. "I missed it," Rodriguez said sheepishly. "I just saw the ball pop up and I broke hard. When I looked up, it was over my head. I tried to set my feet, but I panicked and the ball ended up in center field." Rodriguez gathered himself for the next batter, though, catching another bunt popped up to him by Ian Kinsler. "You just have to focus in on the next batter," Rodriguez said. "I tried to get the ball up to force another pop-up, which I got." And he got two more outs to clinch an 11-10 victory for the Angels in 11 innings at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. Rodriguez earned his 36th save of the season in the process, extending his Major League record for saves before the All-Star break. The win was the Angels' 55th of the season, tying a franchise record for victories before the break. Rodriguez looked mortal again -- the night after blowing his third save of the season -- allowing a leadoff walk for the second straight night in addition to his fielding blunder, but there was no doubt in manager Mike Scioscia's mind that Rodriguez wasn't going to buckle under the pressure. "The earth isn't going to shake Frankie," Scioscia said. "He forgot about last night probably 20 minutes after the game. He's good at turning the page, no matter how heavy the page is to turn." The fact that Rodriguez' services were needed in the same game the Angels produced double digits in runs was proof of how crazy the 11-inning affair was. "No doubt," Rodriguez said. "It was a strange game. We got 10 runs but the bullpen couldn't hold it. It's not that surprising with [the Rangers]. They have a great offense." The Angels' offense wasn't too shabby itself. Howie Kendrick led the way early with his first and second home runs of the season, leading the Angels to their season high in runs scored. They had the Rangers' offense buried halfway through the game. Going into the bottom of the fifth, the Angels led, 10-4, but a reversal in fortunes for each club's pitching staff spelled extra frames. The Rangers scored four runs in the seventh off Darren Oliver and Scot Shields to tie the game at 10 apiece while the Angels were shut out from the sixth inning through the tenth. Not until the 11th did the Angels' offense get back on track. The game-winning run was as simple as a leadoff single by Garret Anderson, a sacrifice bunt by pinch hitter Reggie Willits and a bloop single from pinch hitter Maicer Izturis. "A sac bunt and a bloop single ended up doing it," Scioscia said. "It's funny that's what end ups winning it when the two teams combined for 32 hits." Those 32 hits weren't evenly spread, though. The Rangers collected 20 while the Angels were left with 12. Those 20 hits were the most the Angels had ever surrendered and still won. And most of them came on John Lackey's watch. Lackey lasted just 5 2/3 innings, but allowed 15 hits and six runs before his departure. Even with a line like that, he handed the ball to the bullpen in line for the victory. Ultimately, the win went to Justin Speier instead. "You can't really complain if you pitch the way I did," Lackey said. "It's not like I deserved it."
Shawn Shroyer is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.