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Game 6: An Angel-ic classic

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Oct. 26
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Think of the great Game 6s in World Series history. Go back to '75 for the most artistic of them all, ending on Carlton Fisk's home run. Then, to name a few, there was Don Denkinger's controversial call and Dane Iorg's base hit in '85; Bill Buckner's error in '86; and Kirby Puckett's game-winning home run and leaping catch in '91.

On Saturday night, it was Scott Spiezio, Troy Glaus, Darin Erstad, the Rally Monkey and the never-say-die Angels.

Living up to his word
After Game 2, I said on SportsCenter that Francisco Rodriguez's fastball to Barry Bonds had cut a bit, and he grounded out to first base. The next day Barry said to me, "It didn't cut. I just missed it, and I couldn't get it in the air." And then he said, "If he throws me another fastball, I'm going to hit it as far as I hit the ball off Percival."

Well, the next fastball Bonds got was Saturday night, and he hit it almost as far. When he came out to left field the next inning, I actually had my back turned on the ESPN set. He was motioning to me from left field, and the people had me turn around. He then pointed to me and then to right field to remind me that he promised he would do that.

It is a privilege to watch a man who changes games more than anybody in baseball history. In the ninth inning, the question was, could the Giants get a few runners on? But with two outs, even if Rich Aurilia and Jeff Kent got on base, it wouldn't have mattered. Percival would have walked Bonds to load the bases and pitch to Benito Santiago.

There was no way in the world he would get pitched to. He's been pitched to a few times and has hit eight home runs in the postseason. The number is astounding -- and so is he.
-- P.G.

As much as I have seen the Angels this season, I thought there was no way they would come back, down 5-0 in the seventh inning against a great Giants' bullpen.

Giants starter Russ Ortiz had been almost unhittable. The Angels only had two infield hits going into the seventh. They were fouling balls off in the opposite direction because they weren't getting around on him. Ortiz's stuff was running, and he had command of the strike zone.

But again, the Angels had great at-bats to wear Ortiz down. Adam Kennedy worked him for eight pitches before striking out in the third inning, and Spiezio had an eight-pitch at-bat before grounding out in the fifth.

Then the Rally Monkey came out when the Angels got two hits with one out in the seventh inning and Dusty Baker brought in Felix Rodriguez. You have to be at Edison Field to understand the impact of the monkey. I don't want to hear about purists; it's about the fans who created the experience. Of course, the monkey phenomenon began in June of 2000 when the Angels beat ... Robb Nen.

Spiezio's at-bat against Rodriguez was one for the books. He kept fouling balls off, four on high fastballs, and taking pitches. Finally, Rodriguez's eighth pitch was down and in, and Spiezio hit the three-run home run to make it a 5-3 game.

About 20-30 minutes before the home run, a crosswind had stopped blowing. I don't think Spiezio's ball would have cleared the fence if the wind hadn't stopped blowing. It reminds me of the Bucky Dent home run over the Green Monster in '78, when the wind completely shifted and blew the ball out of the ballpark. But that's what happens sometimes. You play with the weather.

There was a sense the Angels were back in the game, and the crowd was going nuts. After there was one out and nobody on, Baker then had to use three pitchers -- Rodriguez, Scott Eyre and Tim Worrell -- to get the final two outs.

Much of what the Angels do feeds off Erstad, who is so tough. And he hit the solo home run to open the eighth inning, setting the stage for Glaus, getting the two-run double three batters later off Nen.

Not to be overlooked is reliever Brendan Donnelly, who hasn't allowed a hit all series in 5 2/3 innings. The Angels move Francisco Rodriguez around, but Donnelly has replaced Ben Weber as the No. 2 reliever in a lot of ways. Not bad for the former member of the Nashua Pride of the Atlantic League.

What we saw in Game 6 is similar to what we've seen from the Angels the entire postseason. They lost Game 1 against the Yankees and Mike Scioscia faced the heat for not pitching Troy Percival. But the Angels won Game 2 when they became the first team to ever come from behind against the Yankees after the seventh inning at Yankee Stadium in the postseason.

Then they were down 6-1 in Game 3 and came back to win. They lost Game 1 against Minnesota and then came back to win the next four. The Angels' run has been implausible.

In Game 7, both teams will use everybody. John Lackey, who will start for the Angels against Livan Hernandez, won't be nervous, but will he be worn out from already working so many innings? Who knows. But Scioscia will probably go to the bullpen in the fifth inning again. Both closers -- Percival and Nen -- only pitched one inning Saturday, so they will be fresh.

Game 7 is the perfect way for the Series to end because one team is not much better than the other. We still haven't had a series this year won by the team with the home-field advantage.

And this is what every baseball season should be all about -- getting to Game 7 of the World Series.

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