10/25/2002 02:34 am ET
Washburn-ed by hitters in Game 5
Angels starter says he was tired, but that's no excuse
By Tom Singer / MLB.com
SAN FRANCISCO -- This time, it was Anaheim that was steamrolled, and the man who handed the Giants the key to the machinery took full responsibility.
There wasn't much else Jarrod Washburn could do, obviously. Give up six runs in the first two innings of a World Series game, make your team swing at Jason Schmidt's 97 mph fire from inside a hole, and a police artist's sketch isn't needed to find the culprit of a 16-4 slap-shot.
Or, maybe, Washburn was just too tired to make a case. He was definitely too tired to give a good accounting of himself in Game 5.
"It's late in the year, I feel tired," he said. "But I'm sure you can ask every pitcher on both clubs and they'd say the same thing.
"I'm tired, but I'm still expected to go out and do my job."
Washburn had little chance to do that. Expectations and obligation had nothing to do with it.
Thursday night, Washburn was a plumber showing up without his wrench. A doctor making a house call without his stethoscope. A singer walking on stage with laryngitis.
"I had nothing," Washburn said. "Nothing was working. It was a bad night for me. When did I realize it would be bad? Guess when the first guy got on."
Kenny Lofton, the first guy, singled. The second guy, Rich Aurilia, smoked a ball just within center-fielder Darin Erstad's reach. The next two guys also reached, Jeff Kent walking and Barry Bonds doubling for the first run.
After a Benito Santiago sacrifice fly, three straight guys got on with walks, giving Washburn, who averaged 2.6 walks per nine innings this season, four walks in one.
Of Washburn's 34 pitches that inning, 21 were balls.
"They have good veteran hitters who've been around for a long time," he said. "They're not going to chase bad pitches. They're going to wait for mistakes, and if they get a mistake, they're going to make you pay.
"I made a lot of mistakes tonight."
The second inning was a replay, the score doubling to 6-0.
"Right away, I put us in a huge hole, one that you couldn't expect us to climb out of," he said. "I take full responsibility.
"I didn't have command or good life on the ball. I missed the middle of the plate too much. I was brutal."
This wasn't a case of Washburn getting to the middle of the Pac Bell Park diamond and suddenly realizing he was naked, stuff-wise. Pitchers often get mixed signals during their pre-game work in the bullpen, and Washburn was asked whether he'd felt tired warming up.
"I've felt tired the last month. But that's nothing new. And, tired or not, I'm expected to do a job. Warming up, I didn't feel I had my best stuff. I knew I'd have to concentrate extra hard on making pitches, and I just wasn't able to do that.
"I'm extremely disappointed. I let all the guys in this room down. They were all counting on me, and I didn't do it. From the get-go, I was terrible. Now I feel terrible."
Well, all the people holding tickets for Saturday's Game 6 in Edison Field do not feel terrible. Those with Game 7 tickets don't yet know how to feel.
Best advice is, be as optimistic as Washburn. For a 28-year-old left-hander to feel tired on Oct. 24, 231 innings (counting the postseason) into his busiest season of pitching, it's only natural.
Anyone who has followed this team knows that for the Angels to feel a two-game home comeback is possible, that's also natural.
"I hope they got the hits out of their system," Washburn said of the Giants, who got 16 of them, "and they'll come to Anaheim with little cooler bats.
"This is something we can't beat ourselves over. We've still got a job to do, to come out and try to win the next two games, and the World Series."
It will be a chore. Cracking under the month-long burden of a pitching relay of attrition, the Angels staff is gasping, like marathon runners hitting Heartbreak Hill. Throughout the postseason, the starters have seen a seventh inning too seldom. The relievers have picked up the slack, but they have little slack left.
"You have to expect the starters to pitch five, seven innings and not always put the pen in tough situations," Washburn said. "Lately, we haven't done that.
"We haven't helped. Our bullpen is running on fumes, like the rest of us. Going out there and not having quality starts just keeps putting more pressure on them. And on the offense as well -- they've been unbelievable the whole postseason, but you can't expect that to continue."
That's a note of optimism when applied to the Giants' offense, which Thursday enjoyed the most prolific World Series game since the Yankees clocked the Pirates, 16-3, on Oct. 6, 1960.
So here's another note of optimism: The Pirates beat the Yankees in that '60 Series in seven games.
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.