08/27/2002 02:20 am ET
Angels move on despite tough loss
Anaheim not devastated by improbable Sox comeback
By Doug Miller / MLB.com
BOSTON -- It could have been a devastating, season-altering loss.
The Angels had brought a 9-5 lead into the ninth inning of Monday's game, a lead accomplished with the resilience and determination that has put Anaheim in this year's pennant race.
The Red Sox scored four runs in the ninth, then watched with glee as Johnny Damon led off the bottom of the 10th by wrapping a Scot Shields fastball around the Pesky Pole in right field.
It gave the Red Sox and what was left of the 32,869 Fenway Park fans a 10-9 win and a comeback to remember.
"A four-run lead going into the ninth?" Angels shortstop David Eckstein said. "I'll take that any day of the week. With our bullpen, I'll take a one-run lead any day of the week."
On this day of the week, it wasn't enough.
Now the Angels are three games behind Oakland in the American League West and a half-game behind Seattle in the AL Wild Card race.
The 4 1/2-game Wild Card lead they could have had over Boston whittled down to 2 1/2 when Damon's drive cleared the wall.
But the Angels said they haven't gotten to where they are by dwelling on losses, and Monday night's post-game clubhouse mood was no different.
"These guys will respond," manager Mike Scioscia said. "They will respond the way they should, too, Right now, it stings a little bit, but these guys will turn the page and come back out and play tomorrow."
Eckstein echoed that sentiment.
"It's just another loss," Eckstein said. "Every loss counts the same. Every win counts the same. You get too high, you'll get too low. That's why you stay even-keel. That's what's helped us all year. That's what's great about this club."
On the other side of the diamond, the Red Sox were celebrating what they considered a monumental win.
When first-year Red Sox manager Grady Little was asked if Monday's win was his biggest as a manager, he said, "By far ... by far. ... It's as bit of a win as we have had all season."
Damon said the homer was the biggest hit of his career.
Manny Ramirez, who went 5-for-5 with two home runs and four RBIs, said, "This is the most exciting game I've ever played in my life. Winning this game is awesome."
Meanwhile, the Angels were insisting that losing the game wasn't so awful.
"By tomorrow, it'll be done," Troy Percival said. "It'll be another loss and we'll move on."
Besides, Percival reminded, the Angels played three games at Yankee Stadium and four at Fenway Park and came away with a 3-4 record that could have easily been 4-3 if not for the Monday late-game collapse.
"Those are two of the best teams in baseball," he said. "If we win tonight, it was a great success. We lost, but it's salvageable."
First baseman Scott Spiezio agreed.
"If you (don't make the playoffs) by one game, you can look back at all your losses and figure out which ones mattered the most," Spiezio said. "We're not close to that yet."
There are 32 games left in the Angels' season, providing there is no work stoppage.
Thirty-two chances for the Angels to prove that Monday was a one-night hiccup, another bump in what has been a road full of potholes this year.
They're still standing, according to Scioscia, because of their short-term focus.
"Unless I wake up tomorrow and we got two losses for this game, it's the same as every other loss," he said. "This is a season where a lot has happened in a week or even four or five games. A pennant race is really a season within itself. We're not going to adjust our focus on the way we do things on a daily basis. Thirty-two games is a long time."
Those 32 start with Tampa Bay on Tuesday night back home at Edison Field.
"We're thinking about Tampa Bay now," Scioscia said. "The way we got here is day-to-day focus. We're going to play good baseball this week and the wins will put us in a good position. We're not going to change the way we go about our business here."
Monday's starter, Ramon Ortiz, has allowed a Major League-leading 35 home runs this season, but 28 have been solo shots. ... Troy Glaus went 3-for-4 with two runs and two RBIs. He has hit safely in 20 of his last 25 games and has nine RBIs in his last 15 games. ... Adam Kennedy went 2-for-5 with an RBI. He is hitting .346 in his last 52 games.
Doug Miller covers the Angels for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.