10/27/2002 01:21 am ET
Spiezio the hero on special night
Angels force Game 7 after improbable comeback
By Tom Singer / MLB.com
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Seventh (Game) Heaven is a natural off-ramp from this glorious postseason for a band of Angels, and that's where we'll be Sunday night after the can-you-top-this Halos did it. All it took was an unprecedented act in the face of World Series elimination.
The blindfold was ripped away from their eyes by Scott Spiezio, who with one textbook seventh-inning at-bat woke up Edison Field, if not all of southern California.
Spiezio's three-run homer derailed what had appeared inevitable, fueling the Angels' 6-5 comeback win to knot this dandy little Fall Classic at three games apiece.
"You don't want to dwell on it," Spiezio said, "but tonight was so amazing, you can't help sitting back and saying, 'Wow. That was incredible.'"
Until Spiezio struck -- the three RBIs also pumped his postseason total to 19, tying Sandy Alomar Jr.'s 1997 record -- the only incredible thing was how quiet 44,506 people holding ThunderStix could be.
About as quiet as nine men holding bats. Giants starter Russ Ortiz not only held the Angels to two hits through 6 1/3 innings, but they owed apologies for those. An infield single by Tim Salmon and a broken-bat bleeder by Adam Kennedy were it.
"It was definitely frustrating. He was doing a great job and we couldn't get the bat around on him," David Eckstein said.
Spiezio changed all of that with a special greeting for Felix Rodriguez, who relieved Ortiz following one-out singles by Troy Glaus and Brad Fullmer.
First, Spiezio wore him out. Then on the eighth pitch, he took him out.
It was a clinic in that pesky Angels way of hitting, as taught by Mickey Hatcher.
"Rodriguez has been tough on me this whole series," Spiezio said. "Seems like I've faced him every time he's come in, and I know he's been in every game. I've just missed some balls, but haven't hit one on the barrel yet."
Rodriguez started him off with a ball, then Spiezio fouled off two straight to fall into a 1-and-2 hole. Then he fouled off another.
"He was battling the pitcher," Hatcher said, "and when you do that, you never know how it'll work out. He wasn't getting cheated."
Spiezio took a ball and, at 2-and-2, ticked another foul.
"Guys on the bench were getting into it more with every pitch. Yelling, 'Yeah, keep battling.' He was having a good at-bat," Hatcher said. "Rodriguez is tough high in the strike zone, and that's what he was feeding Scott."
"I kept fouling off balls," Spiezio said. "I kept telling myself that I was right on it. 'Just keep looking for a pitch to hit.' I finally got one that was in my zone."
Spiezio pulled a low, inside fastball, yanking it into the right-field corner. Towering, soaring, drifting, the ball settled into the second row of seats adjacent to the old Anaheim Stadium bullpen.
"I didn't know it was gone when I hit it," Spiezio said. "I was praying. I was saying, 'God, please, just get it over the fence.' Seemed like it took forever."
The rest of the miracle was a blur. Inevitable, incredible ... unforgettable.
Anaheim manager Mike Scioscia gave it the highest rating on the Watt scale.
"I can go back to the Kirk Gibson game," said Scioscia, referring to the hobbling pinch-hit homer in Game 1 of 1988 that ever since has topped the AC/DC meter. "I think there was about as much electricity in that stadium that night as there ever was.
"I think tonight surpassed it."
It was a moment and a feeling Spiezio tried to capture. After touring the bases following his homer, Spiezio plopped on the bench and closed his eyes.
"I was just going over the feeling in my head, to try to remember it," he said.
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.