10/23/2002 01:52 am ET
Erstad drives Anaheim steamroller
Angels show killer instinct in 10-4 rout of Giants
By Tom Singer / MLB.com
SAN FRANCISCO -- As the Anaheim Steamroller kept mashing along, we got a better understanding of what fuels this run factory.
It appears to be greed, of the best kind. The kind that prevents you from ever feeling satisfied, which in a competitive arena is a very good thing.
"We've had a lot of up-and-down games during the season, where teams would come back against us and no lead was safe," Darin Erstad said. "So our idea always is to keep pressing.
"Yeah," Erstad added upon further consideration, "I guess you could call it a killer instinct."
That should explain how the Angels have managed to bat around three times in consecutive World Series games, including in the third and fourth innings of Tuesday night's 10-4 dismissal of the Giants.
It marked the first time in the history of the World Series, a pageant dating back to 1903, that a team has batted around in consecutive World Series innings.
By definition, Erstad participated in both revolutions, with a double in the third and a single in the fourth.
As a result, the Angels center-fielder has hit safely in all 12 postseason games, matching a feat last performed by the Yankees' Derek Jeter in 1999.
So is he pleased, feeling as locked in as he has all season? Haven't you been paying attention?
"I'm such a perfectionist, I'm never satisfied," Erstad said. "Every day, I've gotta find my swing. It's always a struggle.
"I'm pretty inconsistent. I have my good times and my bad times. Fortunately, I've picked a good time to get a few hits to fall in."
He couldn't have picked a better time. During the regular season, his longest hitting streak lasted 10 games, in May. In October, he's on a 12-gamer.
Maybe it's easy, being one of the pistons in the Anaheim Steamroller engine. Hitting is never easy, but pulling in the same direction as the seven others in the lineup simplifies it.
And this is an Angels team that has put 34 hits, and 21 runs, on the proud San Francisco pitching in the last two games.
In pitching the Cardinals aside, the Giants allowed a total of four runs in the last 21 innings of the NLCS.
"They've been hitting the last two games," said Dusty Baker, adding the only thing he could. "Hopefully, they hit themselves out."
Erstad had some discouraging words for the Giants manager. The former punter for national champion Nebraska put his team's relentlessness into football terms.
"It's like the prevent defense in football. It's not a good thing to do. So we don't let up, and wind up putting a lot of runs on the board."
Even the board at Pacific Bell Park, which was supposed to contain an Anaheim offense that had homered 21 times in its first 10 postseason games, including two in each of the first two World Series games.
Well, none of the Angels threatened to bankrupt Taco Bell (the company floated a target in McCovey Cove and promised free tacos to everyone in America if someone hit it). But all of them smacked drives throughout the park's acreage -- everyone in the lineup had hit safely by the sixth inning.
The Angels were the ones flattening Livan Hernandez and his relief by playing NL-style ball of opposite-field singles, gappers and productive outs.
No one exhibits that NL mentality better than Erstad, who raised his World Series average to .375 by going 3-for-6.
"We go out and play hard," he said, not pausing to claim any props for himself. "We always leave it on the field.
"This is a situation where you've got a bunch of guys who've gone through a lot of tough times together, and have developed a real close relationship.
"There's nothing any of us wouldn't do for the team. We're all on the same page and depend on each other. That's a very special feeling you don't often come across in team sports."
As for the Game 3 elements ... you would've thought the Angels had just finished scaling Mt. Everest in Bermuda shorts, judging by some of the reaction to them acting as masters of the Giants' house.
North Dakota native Erstad shrugged.
"I mean, I had long sleeves on, too. I'm not that stupid," he said. "Maybe growing up in that environment did help. It was pretty cold out there.
"But when we play on an August afternoon in Texas and it's 100 degrees, I'm on IVs after the game. So weather is always a give-and-take thing."
The Angels' attack and the weather seem to have a lot in common. Everyone talks about the weather, too, and no one can do anything about it, either.
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.