10/23/2002 02:21 am ET
Night of the Livan dread
Angels rock Hernandez for five earned runs
By John Schlegel / MLB.com
SAN FRANCISCO -- Six other teams had tried but failed in three different Octobers. Through his first eight postseason appearances, it was as though he held a magic spell over hitters.
Livan Hernandez was the undefeated champion of October.
But Hernandez hadn't run into a team of punchers like the Angels, not until Tuesday night's Game 3 of the 2002 World Series.
The Angels finally figured out a way to beat Hernandez in the postseason. Before Tuesday, it hadn't been done at all, yet the Angels put such a thrashing on Hernandez that he only lasted 3 2/3 innings, having allowed six runs and thrown 92 pitches.
It was a short night and a long night for Hernandez.
"I threw a lot of pitches," Hernandez said. "I think I threw 90 pitches in three innings. That's too much."
And he can thank the Angels hitters for that.
Perhaps the biggest factor of all for the Angels on this night was they did something they always do: They made the pitcher work hard. They took their walks. They fouled off close pitches. They took advantage of the ones they could hit.
"You've got to spoil his good pitches and hope you're going to get something good to hit," Angels No. 2 hitter Darin Erstad said. "We got some hitter's counts and he had to throw it over the plate a little bit more. Sometimes you hit them, sometimes you foul them off. It just kind of clicked tonight."
And while the Angels were doing all that, Hernandez's pitch count was clicking. The Angels made Hernandez throw 42 pitches in the four-run third -- that's making him work, all right. Eight of the nine batters made him throw at least four pitches.
Really, it was a mode the Angels were in most of the year: Put good at-bat after good at-bat out there, and sooner or later things will add up.
"That's the whole idea," said Erstad, who went 3-for-6 with two runs scored. "You want every single at-bat to be a good at-bat. Nobody's perfect and can do it all the time, but the whole idea is to put the pressure on them and take it off of you."
Said Adam Kennedy, "Pick one. Pick a guy, and he had good at-bats up there."
The Angels drew five walks against Hernandez, and three of those baseruners scored as Anaheim batted around the order in both the third and the fourth, knocking Hernandez out after they'd scored their fifth run of the game.
A walk to leadoff man David Eckstein to begin the third started the trouble, but the Angels also got plenty of sharp hits off Hernandez to drive in runs. Scott Spiezio's two-run triple in the third that was hit so hard it practically traveled through the entire outfield on the ground.
The Angels' combination of patience -- staying away from close pitches off the corner that home plate umpire Tim Tschida wasn't giving to Hernandez -- and perseverance -- fouling off the good ones Hernandez made -- was toxic on Tuesday night.
Giants pitching coach Dave Righetti says it's less the patience than it is the perseverance.
"They'll first-swing you, too," Righetti said. "Patience is fine, but fouling off pitches, there's more art to that than taking a pitch. Fouling off good pitches and making them throw another one and another one, that's good hitting. Taking pitches, that's not necessarily good hitting. These guys are on their game right now, and we're going to have to do something about it."
Hernandez said he felt good through the first couple of innings, retiring the side in order in the first and working out of a bases-loaded jam in the second by striking out Ramon Ortiz. But after that Hernandez felt like Tschida's strike zone wasn't giving him as much to work with. He said he wasn't getting the calls he got those first two innings.
Bottom line: Hernandez had to find more of the plate, and they took it from there.
"If you go out there again, it's a ball," Hernandez said. "And if you have to come in on the plate, they hit it. I don't blame the umpires, because they hit it. Anaheim hit the ball and won the game."
And, believe it or not, Hernandez lost. He actually lost a postseason game. Before Tuesday, he was 6-0 in the postseason and his teams were 8-0 in games he'd pitched.
"I lost one time," Hernandez said. "A lot of people have lost two times. I haven't lost two yet."
John Schlegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.