10/12/2002 01:52 am ET
Seventh heaven: Inning had it all
By John Schlegel / MLB.com
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- It was a three-out adventure fraught with tension, featuring a bang-bang play at the plate, crucial defensive stops and, since it was the 2002 American League Championship Series and this was Edison Field, more Rally Monkeys than you can shake a
It was the bottom of the seventh inning of Friday's Game 3 of the ALCS, and 44,234 pairs of ThunderStix were thwacking to the beat of a priceless display of postseason drama.
By the end of it, the Angels had scored exactly zero runs and the Twins still had a tie game in hand. Yet the buzz in the air still said it was an amazing frame of baseball.
When Twins right fielder Dustan Mohr pulled in Garret Anderson's bases-loaded fly ball with his back against the right-field fence, the heaven that was the seventh was complete -- and Mohr's deep breath of relief as he jogged back to the dugout told the tale.
"That's just the kind of stuff that happens in the postseason," Anderson said.
Anderson was able to break a smile saying that because Troy Glaus' leadoff homer in the eighth put the Angels ahead and his own diving catch sealed the deal as the Angels took a 2-1 victory that gives them a 2-1 edge in the ALCS.
The Twins held off the seventh-inning charge with Twins manager Ron Gardenhire making three pitching changes and second baseman Luis Rivas making two excellent defensive plays.
"You have to stop it," Gardenhire said. "We did everything we could to stop it. I made all the moves I had to to try to get through that inning."
"They earned it," Anderson said. "I'm not going to say we couldn't push the run across, because they made the plays to make sure we didn't. You've got to give credit to them."
It all began the way many rallies begin -- with a leadoff walk. Before Bengie Molina could even get to first base, pinch-runner Chone Figgins was on his way out there to replace him. A solid sacrifice bunt by Benji Gil,
and the Angels had the go-ahead run in scoring position with one out.
Then it got interesting.
With LaTroy Hawkins still on the mound, Angels leadoff man David Eckstein laced a line drive up the middle. As Figgins broke from second, Rivas got completely horizontal to get his glove on the ball, just losing control of it as he took the ride down to the ground.
Had he caught it, he would have had Figgins doubled up at second -- inning over. By getting a glove on it, he saved a run.
Enter lefty Johan Santana to face Darin Erstad. The Rally Monkey movie clip on the video board during the changeover: From "Animal House" with RM superimposed as the hot sorority chick Bluto's ogling from atop a ladder.
After Erstad swung wildly at a slider a couple of feet outside, Santana put another ball there that bounced off catcher A.J. Pierzynski toward the Angels dugout. Figgins took a step toward home and then decided to stay put as Eckstein took second easily.
"Right away, I thought I had a chance to go, but once I came back to the bag and thought about it, I didn't think I would have made it," Figgins said.
Two pitches later, Erstad smashed a grounder toward Rivas, who quickly threw home. Pierzynski fielded the throw, turned and apparently brushed Figgins' back with a tag, as umpire Brian Gorman ruled, just before Figgins nipped the back of the plate with his left hand.
"I was so far behind him when I got there, he couldn't tag me," Figgins said. "I thought I was safe."
History will show he wasn't, thanks to the second of Rivas' two huge defensive efforts in the inning.
"Big-time plays, game-saving plays," said Twins shortstop Cristian Guzman.
Added Twins center fielder Torii Hunter: "If we win that game, Luis is the hero in my book. He's a hero anyway, because he gave us a chance."
And with that, Figgins' 360-foot adventure around the bases was complete.
Time for another pitching change: Right-hander Mike Jackson to face Tim Salmon. Rally Monkey film clip: "Risky Business" with RM playing the part of Tom Cruise's character, dancing (actually jumping as usual) to the Bob Seger classic.
Jackson walked Salmon on six pitches, loading the bases and creating another pitching change.
Enter lefty J.C. Romero to face Anderson. Rally Monkey movie clip: "Star Trek: The Movie" with RM starring as an alien life form on the Enterprise's video screen.
On a 2-1 pitch, Anderson sent a ball sailing high and deep to right. When it landed in Mohr's glove, the inning was complete.
"I just got under it," Anderson said.
Then the Angels got over it, winning the game on Glaus' homer and some ninth-inning heroics.
But the seventh lives on as an epic inning, even if nothing came out of it.
John Schlegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.