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September 22, 2007 at 4:34 PM

M’s win a close one

J.J. Putz retires Garret Anderson on a high fastball with the tying run on second in the ninth inning to preserve a 3-2 win and deny the Los Angeles Angels the AL West crown for at least one more day. Miguel Batista becomes a 15-game winner, something I never dreamed I’d live to see. Batista has compiled those wins in one of the most difficult ways possible, but hats off to him. No, he doesn’t go seven innings like an ace. But he did have to limit the scoring damage by opponents to reach 15 victories. He limited it today. And, with the usual bullpen help, gets the “W”. No, Batista and Cy Young will never be mentioned in the same breath, but as a middle-of-the-rotation guy, he’s just fine.
Lots of talk inside the clubhouse about the M’s wanting to make a good showing here so they’ll have something to build off next season. Of course, this season and next are two different animals. But if these Angels are going to be the team to beat in the AL West for years — and it sure looks that way from here — no time like the present to proive you can beat them.
“We didn’t want them to celebrate on us,” Batista said. “I think we already helped too damn much for them to celebrate when we were playing them at home.”
“We’re trying to figure out what we have left for next year,” Batista added. “They’re thinking about playoffs because they are the champs, but us on the other hand, we’re seeing what we’ve got. So next year, we’ve got to add a few more pieces and we should be there.”
No, the Angels aren’t champs yet. But they will be any day now.
Turns out that Orlando Cabrera line drive off Batista’s leg in the fifth started to stiffen up on him. It hit him just above the knee and hurt his leg when he landed on it after throwing pitches. Figures it hampered his control in that wildness-plagued sixth.
Talked to Ryan Rowland-Smith about that pickoff move of his in the seventh and he figured he uses it better when he isn’t trying to nab the runner. All he was doing was throwing over, but it sure fooled Chone Figgins.
“It’s funny, if you don’t try to pick the, off it’s like you get a better move,” he said. “If I’m slow with it, it’s more deceptive than if I try to speed it up.
“It’s like if I’m really trying to pick him off I just rush it over there.”
Will he use it more often?
“It gets you out of jams,” he said. “It’s something I really need to work on in the off-season. If I spend just a little bit of time on it, it could really help out.”
Eric O’Flaherty has allowed only one hit in seven bases-loaded situations this season so far. Got the team out of that sixth inning jam on the Juan Rivera pop up.
“I’m just looking at coming in and getting it done,” he said. “If I finish the game, then I don’t care so much if I give up an earned run. And I think, for the most part this year, I’ve gotten it done.”
He appreciated manager John McLaren showing enough confidence in him to allow him to enter with the bases loaded in the seventh.
“I loved pitching in that situation today with the crowd on its feet,” he said. “It’s fun.”
What did McLaren think of the game?
“We’ve talked about how we’ve got to beat the Angels to go where we want to go,” McLaren said. “We have got to beat them at some point. So, if we can take this series tomorrow, we’ll feel real good about ourselves.”
Feeling good about themselves is all the M’s have left at this stage. Might as well be good at that. An 83-win season now. Perhaps 87 or 88 is not out of the question. What to do with the GM and manager at that point? I know about the 13 losses in 14 games, but the optics of firing folks after improving from 78 to 88 wins would look a little strange, no? I’m just asking. How do you see it? Is this padding a win total? Or does it mean something?

Comments | Topics: Chone Figgins

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