2002 World Series

24 06 2015

I’m splitting my write-ups about the playoffs into 2 posts going forward.  The posts just feel too long, so I’ll do the NLDS/NLCS in the first post and the World Series in the next post for 2002 and on.

2002 World Series Sports Illustrated Angels cover

After an incredible 2001 Fall Classic, the 2002 World Series had a lot to live up to.  Sure, there wasn’t a walk-off hit in game 7 against the best closer of all time.  But it certainly made for some memories; most notably, a team looking to clinch the title had a 5-run lead in game 6 – and DIDN’T WIN!  Also, the team with home field advantage had won every single series in the 2002 playoffs, but that anomaly didn’t hold up in the 2002 World Series.

World Series:

Giants at Angels

Both teams had won their Championship Series in 5 games, so game 1 pitted the #1 starters against each other.  The game was an even matchup, with Jason Schmidt out doing Jarrod Washburn.  Barry Bonds, Reggie Sanders and JT Snow all hit home runs off Washburn, while Troy Glaus pegged 2 longballs on Schmidt.  Snow hit his with a runner on, which was the difference in the 4-3 Giant victory.

Game 2 was just as close, but with a lot more fireworks.  The Angels scored 5 runs in the first inning, including Scott Spiezio’s steal of home plate.  They forced Russ Ortiz out of the game when Tim Salmon hit a 2-run homer in the 2nd.  But home runs from  Sanders and David Bell led to a 4-run 2nd inning, and a Jeff Kent homer got the Giants within 2 runs the next frame.  The Angel’s rookie starter John Lackey relieved Kevin Appier and held down the fort for a few innings, but the Giants plated 4 runs in the 5th.  The Angels clawed their way back to tie by scoring in both the 5th and 6th innings, and Salmon gave them a 2-run lead with his 2nd homer of the night in the 8th.  Troy Percival got the first 2 batters out, meaning he could afford to go after Bonds, who had been walked 3 times that game.  Bonds hit a monstrous drive, that you could see Salmon (observing from the dugout after being taken out for defense) quote as the “farthest ball I’ve ever seen hit”.

The Giants scored first in game 3, but the Angels took over from there.  The Angels scored 4 runs in both the 3rd and 4th inning off Livan Hernandez, with the biggest hit coming off a Spiezio triple.

The Angels struck first in game 4, taking a 3-run lead after Troy Glaus but it was the Giants’ turn to come back.  They scored 3 runs to tie the game in the 5th inning, and David Bell singled home the winning run in the bottom of the 8th.  This was done despite the fact that Bonds essentially had the bat taken out of his hands.  The Angels were using a strategy that had become all too familiar with the Giants – they walked Barry whenever possible.  In game 3, Bonds was walked intentionally 3 times.  For the series, he walked an astounding 13 times, 7 of them intentionally (and the others were all due to pitching around Bonds).  When he did get the chance to hit – he was excellent.  For the series, Bonds hit 4 homers and batted .471 with a 1.294 slugging percentage.  But he notched only 6 RBI as the Angels minimized the damage the best player in the game could do.

2002 WS Bonds intentional walk

In game 5, Bonds took early advantage of one of the few opportunities he had.  Kenny Lofton opened with a single, and Kent walked.  Even the Angels didn’t want to walk Bonds with runners on first and second.  He doubled to score Lofton, and came around to score later in the inning.  Lofton and Kent had again reached base in the second inning, but this time they were on 2nd and 3rd.  With first base open, the Angels naturally walked Bonds.  But Benito Santiago singled home Kent and Lofton, and Sanders’ sacrifice fly scored Bonds to give the Giants a 6-0 lead.  The Angels made it interesting, knocking the starter Jason Schmidt out and getting as close as 6-4.  But Kent homered in the 6th and 7th innings and the rout was on.  The Giants eventually won 16-4, and sat 1 game away from their first title in San Francisco.

The most interesting moment of Game 5 didn’t come from the play on the field.  In between Kent home runs, Kenny Lofton hit a run-scoring triple, and 3-year old bat boy Darren Baker (son of manager Dusty Baker) ran out to grab Lofton’s bat right as JT Snow and David Bell were barreling home.  Snow swooped the youngster out of the way to avoid a potential disaster.

2002 WS JT Snow Darren Baker

That looked promising late into the next game.  Though the series turned back to Anaheim,   Shawon Dunston homered in what would be the last game of his career, and Bonds hit another solo shot in the 6th inning.  After Kent notched an RBI single, it was 5-0 and the Angels only had 9 outs left.  But even though the Giants had Bonds, the Angels had something else on their side: the Rally Monkey!  Two seasons earlier, the Angels were down a run at home in the 9th inning of an interleague matchup against the same Giants. The scoreboard operators had posted a picture of the monkey from Ace Ventura pet detective.  The crowd loved it, and the Halos came back to win the game.  The gimmick was so popular that the Angels bought their own Capuchin monkey to help inspire the crowd.  Plush versions of the monkey became popular sales items at the team shop, and the monkey became a national story as the Angels rolled off multiple comebacks against the vaunted Yankees in the division series.  Naturally, this was a gimmick – but the monkey was the symbol for what had become a very real home field advantage in Anaheim.

Rally Monkey

But the rally monkey reached the peak of its fame at the end of game 6.  Probability gave the Angels had just a 3% chance of winning after starter Ortiz got Garrett Anderson to ground out to start the bottom of the 7th.  But Glaus and Fullmer singled, prompting Baker to bring in Felix Rodriguez to face Spiezio.  After working a 3-2 count, Spiezio golfed the payoff pitch just over the right field wall to give the Angels life.  Darin Erstad led the 8th off with a home run, and Glaus doubled home the tying and go-ahead run later that inning.  Troy Percival shut the door in the 9th, and the Angels had staved off elimination in one of the most improbable comebacks in World Series history.

2002 WS Spiezio HR

The shell-shocked Giants now faced a daunting task.  Anaheim had the momentum and the excited home crowd.  San Francisco did have Livan Hernandez as their starter; he was 5 years removed from a game 7 World Series victory.  And the Giants plated the first run when Sanders hit a fly ball to score Santiago in the 2nd inning.  But Bengie Molina doubled home Spiezio in the bottom of the inning, and Garrett Anderson doubled home 3 runs in the 3rd, and the Angels didn’t need anything more.  John Lackey combined with a dominant Angels bullpen to allow just 4 more hits as the team long regarded as the red-helmeted step child of the Dodgers had its own World Series win.



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