09/17/06 12:59 AM ET
Figgins hits for cycle as Angels fall
Triple in ninth makes Chone sixth Angels player to manage feat
By Mike Scarr / MLB.com
It's tough for a club to fete an individual accomplishment when it otherwise gets knocked around the yard, and a 12-6 loss to the Rangers cemented by five errors qualifies as a beating.
Especially tough was the fact the Angels fell six games behind the A's in the American League West and saw their number for elimination in the division trimmed to nine games, as Oakland rallied at home to defeat the White Sox.
Any combination of wins by the A's and losses by the Angels adding up to nine will dethrone the two-time AL West titleists. The Angels also saw their elimination number in the AL Wild Card reduced to seven, as the Twins downed the Indians.
From any perspective, it was a bittersweet moment.
"The way this year has gone for me, personally, it is good," Figgins said. "But in a big loss, I feel bad. I wouldn't feel this way if we won."
Figgins singled in the top of the first to drive in the Angels' first run and homered in the fifth on a 3-2 pitch from Rangers starter Adam Eaton. The home run ball just cleared the yellow line marking in or out along the right-field wall and rebounded sharply back onto the field.
He then doubled in the seventh and saved what is often considered the toughest for last. But Figgins can run with anyone in baseball and was thinking three from the moment he left the batter's box.
Nick Masset grooved a 3-2 fastball and Figgins sent a sharp liner that split the left-center gap between Carlos Lee and Gary Matthews Jr. Figgins put his head down and sprinted around the bases before sliding into third to hand the Angels their first cycle since Aug. 25, 2004, when Jeff DaVanon turned the trick.
Figgins became the fifth Angel to accomplish the feat, which has been done six times in franchise history. Jeff Mathis scored on the hit to give Figgins three RBIs on the night.
"Figgy has that potential. He has surprising power for a little guy," manager Mike Scioscia said. "He used every part of the field tonight. It was a good day for Chone. That was one of the few bright spots on the night for us."
Figgins was part of a six-run, 14-hit attack that one might expect would allow the Angels to coast to victory, especially with the success the pitching staff has had lately. But John Lackey was unable to perform up to the standard of the 2.68 ERA the pitching staff has posted in September.
The Rangers put Lackey on the ropes from the opening bell, as Matthews and Michael Young singled to open the bottom of the first. Mark Teixeira followed with an RBI single, and Lee hit an RBI double to right to score Young.
Hank Blalock then hit a chopper to third, but when Maicer Izturis could not find the handle for the Angels' first error of the contest, Teixeira scored. Mark DeRosa followed with an RBI single, and the Rangers led, 4-0.
The Angels got two back in the top of the second when Juan Rivera singled to lead off the inning and scored on a two-out double into the left-field corner by Mike Napoli. Figgins then knocked in his first run of the night, and the Angels trailed, 4-2.
But Teixeira doubled in the fourth to score Young and Lee followed with an RBI single to bring Teixeira home, and it was clear that Lackey was about done. DeRosa's comebacker helped Lackey strand Lee in a rundown, and he eventually caught Gerald Laird looking to end the inning.
"It kind of got rolling downhill, and I couldn't stop it," Lackey said. "They found a lot of holes."
Lackey allowed six runs in four innings for his fifth loss in his last nine starts. Since being named AL Pitcher of the Month in July, Lackey has recorded just one win with a 5.91 ERA over that span.
"From the get-go, John was missing spots. He was getting ahead, but he had trouble putting guys away," Scioscia said. "John just never got his feet on the ground. By the time he got to four innings, he had to work hard to get there."
The charitable attitude was evident throughout the staff, as four Angels relievers completed the game, with Greg Jones allowing two runs and Chris Bootcheck surrendering four in the seventh without recording an out.
Hector Carrasco was unavailable after pitching 2 2/3 innings on Thursday night and Kevin Gregg had a sore arm, so Scioscia was forced to go with two pitchers that were in Salt Lake City at the beginning of the month.
The Angels scored twice in the top of the ninth on Figgins' RBI triple and a sac fly by Izturis, but that was far too little and far too late, as the club now faces a six-game deficit with 13 games to play.
"There is not too much encouragement you're going to get from a game when you give up 12 runs and play poor defense," Scioscia said.
Mike Scarr is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.