By Joe Haakenson, AngelsWin.com Contributor -
MAY 17, 2002
GAME 39 - ANGELS AT WHITE SOX
CHICAGO -- The wind-chill factor at the start of Friday night's game between the Angels and Chicago White Sox was 34 degrees, which seemed to make Chicago-area natives Scott Spiezio, Al Levine and Lou Pote feel right at home.
All three played big roles in leading the Angels to an 8-4 victory before 12,736 bundled up fans at Comiskey Park, the Angels eighth consecutive victory and their 17th in 19 games.
The Angels have won eight in a row twice this season, the first time in franchise history they've had two winning streaks of at least eight games in the same season. The Angels also became the sixth team in the majors since 1998 to go 17-2 over a 19-game stretch. Seattle and Oakland each did it last season.
Spiezio, a native of Joliet, Ill., had two hits, including a two-run homer in the eighth inning that turned a 5-4 game into 7-4. Pote, from Evergreen Park, and Levine, from Park Ridge, each pitched two hitless innings in relief of starter Scott Schoeneweis (3-4). Levine earned his fourth save of the season.
``Listen, man, Chicago's their kind of town,'' Angels manager Mike Scioscia said, though Levine admitted he could have done without the cold.
``I wanted to throw three pitches and get out of there,'' said Levine, who didn't wear sleeves under his uniform jersey.
The cold also didn't seem to bother Darin Erstad, a native of North Dakota, who had three hits and raised his season average to .299. Troy Glaus homered in the ninth inning for the Angels, his team-leading ninth of the season.
Schoeneweis wasn't quite as effective as the pitchers who followed him, but managed to get through five innings and keep the White Sox, who rank second in the majors in runs scored, from putting together a big inning.
The White Sox scored two runs in the first inning, but the Angels tied it with two unearned runs off White Sox starter Jon Garland (4-3) in the third. The White Sox regained the lead on Aaron Rowand's (Glendora High, Cal State Fullerton) RBI double in the fourth, but the Angels went ahead for good with three runs in the fifth.
``We haven't played perfect baseball,'' Scioscia said. ``But we're not waiting for breaks to turn the game our way. The offense has been good, so a break either way doesn't determine a win or a loss.''
They had ''only'' 11 hits Friday, but once again got contributions from up and down the lineup. Seven of the nine starters had at least one hit and six of the nine scored at least one run.
``It just keeps coming and coming,'' Levine said. ''It's awesome.''
Erstad has been in the middle of it. Friday he extended his hitting streak to seven games, during which time he's hit .414 (12 for 29).
``I'm still working,'' Erstad said. ``I can handle certain pitches but there are some I can't get to. I'll keep working, I'm never satisfied.''
Hitting in the second spot, Erstad is expected to both score runs and drive in runs, a key spot in Scioscia's lineup.
``Ersty's got a lot on his plate because we're asking him to set the table and drive in runs,'' Scioscia said. ``He's moving full-speed ahead now.''
As a team, the Angels are averaging 7.9 runs per game during the 19-game stretch.
``We're playing with confidence,'' Erstad said. ``We're getting guys on, and different guys are stepping up every night.''
CHICAGO -- The fact that the players union has begun considering strike dates is ``troubling'' to Angels manager Mike Scioscia, who also said he like to see a neutral party intervene to help the owners and players come to an agreement on a new labor deal.
``I would certainly hope there could be somebody to step in and function as a mediator and get something done,'' Scioscia said. ``You're talking about some that's very, very important, not only for the people directly involved in the game but for the whole country.''
That mediator, though, should not be President Bush, Scioscia said. ``I think the President's got bigger things on his plate,'' he said.
Scioscia said the fans have to be considered in how the two sides act, though it hasn't seemed to be much of a concern.
``You hope you're never confronted with eroding that support from the fans,'' he said. ``It's such a big part of the country, it's not just a sport. It's a part of people's lives. Millions of people every morning, if they can't see the highlights, pick up the paper and see how their team did.''
Scioscia also said that the game's popularity internationally should be considered, now that so many non-U.S. players are having an impact.
``With that kind of interest being generated world-wide, there's a golden opportunity to expand on that,'' he said.
At the start of Friday's game between the Angels and White Sox, the temperature was 42 degrees, with a wind-chill factor of 34 degrees.
Third baseman Troy Glaus often doesn't wear sleeves under his jersey during many cold days because he feels constricted. But Friday that was not the case.
``It's 20 degrees; that's different,'' he said.
Said Scioscia: ``It's easy to play the game when it's 70 degrees and no wind. If you're a championship club you play under adverse conditions. It's a challenge. I grew up in Philly and played in this kind of weather. I think we'll be OK.''
Shortstop David Eckstein fouled a ball off his face in the first inning Friday. He sustained a bump and small cut over his right eye, and another small cut on the bridge of his nose, caused by the helmet. After trainer Ned Bergert wiped away the blood and put a bandage on his nose, Eckstein returned to the game.
``Ned was working him like a cut man in the corner,'' Scioscia said.
``I knew I broke my helmet,'' Eckstein said. ``I went to get a new helmet and blood started coming down my face. I was just scared my eye would close.''
As Darin Erstad fielded Frank Thomas' double in left-center field in the fourth inning Friday, a fan threw a cup of beer that splashed near Erstad but missed him.
``I guess they were a bad shot,'' Erstad said.
Reliever Donne Wall, pitching on a rehab assignment for Triple-A Salt Lake in Memphis, Tenn. on Friday, gave up one run in 1 2/3 innings of work. Wall will rejoin the team in Chicago today, but he will not be activated yet.