10/27/2002 7:39 pm ET
MLBeat: Anything goes in Game 7
Scioscia brainstorms possible matchups
By Doug Miller / MLB.com
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Everybody knows that rational plans and strategies for baseball games pretty much go out the window if that game happens to be Game 7 of the World Series.
Angels manager Mike Scioscia was confronted with this reality after his team forced the deciding game with a 6-5 comeback victory in Game 6.
He decided to start rookie John Lackey in Game 7, but if Lackey isn't effective, just about anything goes.
"Kevin Appier will be unavailable," Scioscia said. "I think we'll have Jarrod Washburn available for an extreme situation, if it goes extra innings. Ramon Ortiz should be OK to go out there and pitch. The question where Ramon is, how is his wrist going to react if he had to throw 20 or 25 pitches, if it's going to start to act up again?"
These are the stream-of-conscience meanderings of a baseball mind when confronted with a winner-take-all scenario. Scioscia, a guy who always writes down contingency plans for game situations, has undoubtedly written an epic tome for this one.
"Well, it's easier for me on paper, just to look at scenarios, look at 'what ifs,' combine it with matchups that make sense and look for little pockets of the game that roles might be defined," Scioscia said. "Most of it ends up in the waste-paper basket as we move forward."
What it all comes down to, Scioscia said, is that Anaheim will be a lot better off if Lackey throws a good game.
"Hopefully, John is going to give us a start that will keep our bullpen where it needs to be," Scioscia said. "If he doesn't, we'll adjust and we have some guys that hopefully are going to come in and do the job."
Scioscia was asked if a case could be made for a shorter regular season in light of the fact that the Angels' and Giants' pitching staffs appear to be worn down.
"I think every pitcher is different," Scioscia said. "You're going to have some pitchers go out there and throw 230, 240 innings and be no worse off than if you limited them to 190. Some pitchers are extended with maybe the extra starts it takes to get through the full season. The playoffs, it's so emotionally draining, too, for pitchers. You have to work harder for every out."
That has certainly been the case in this World Series. The two teams have combined for a .311 batting average, currently the highest average ever for both clubs combined in a World Series. No starting pitcher has lasted seven innings.
Scioscia had an explanation for those facts.
"To say that a pitcher's only pitching five or six innings in the playoffs, what's wrong with him?" Scioscia said. "Probably nothing's wrong with him. It's the club he's pitching against is a match that makes him work harder, and maybe his stuff leaves him a little bit sooner."
Praise for Stoneman: Scioscia was asked how Angels general manager evolved from a guy who was primarily concerned with doing contracts and balancing budgets with the Montreal Expos to building the Angels into American League champions.
"Bill pitched in the Major Leagues for a long time," Scioscia said. "Although his expertise was thought to be, 'He's going to come in here and run the financial end of it, do that part,' evaluating talent is critical to a general manager. He has that talent."
Under Stoneman's watch, the Angels acquired starters Kevin Appier (in a trade with the New York Mets) and Aaron Sele (free agent signing), position starters Adam Kennedy (in a trade with St. Louis), David Eckstein (claimed off waivers from Boston), Brad Fullmer (in a trade with Toronto) and key backup Alex Ochoa (in a trade with Milwaukee).
Stoneman also arranged for the call-up of several minor-leaguers who have aided in the Angels' magical season: pitchers John Lackey, Francisco Rodriguez, Brendan Donnelly, Scot Shields and position players Jose Molina and Chone Figgins.
"He can certainly evaluate talent," Scioscia said. "He knows how to put a team together. I think he's shown in three years what he's accomplished here by not only keeping the core unit together but filling in some peripheral players that have had a major part of us being in the World Series."
Hatcher's approach: Hitting coach Mickey Hatcher said you have to go all the way back to the first day of Spring Training to trace the offensive approach that has led the Angels to the World Series.
"Mike got together with the offense," Hatcher said. "We had a big offensive meeting. I wanted that meeting to be done before we started our games in Spring Training. Mike told everybody how aggressive he was going to be managing, how we had to manufacture run to be a championship ballclub."
Hatcher said veterans Darin Erstad and Garret Anderson got up and talked to the players about how on-base percentage, runs scored and RBIs would be more important than batting average.
They spoke of situational hitting and efficiency up and down the lineup would make them competitive with AL West rivals Oakland and Seattle.
"That's one of the things we were going to focus on, to give up at-bats for the team to score runs," Hatcher said. "Spring Training is where they needed to find that approach. Troy Glaus didn't have one. Tim Salmon didn't have one. We had to find some kind of philosophies for those guys to participate. They've done a great job with it."
Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.