Opening Day (April 1, 2013) is 73 days away. We are counting down the 100 Walk Off Home Runs in Angels franchise history. Today we look at #73, the first walk off under new manager Mike Scioscia...
April 29, 2000 - This Saturday night game against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays lasted four and a half hours. It was 5-5 in the ninth when Shigetoshi Hasegawa gave up a solo homerun to Greg Vaughn. But Devil Rays closer Roberto Hernandez gave up a leadoff base hit to Scott Spiezio and a two-out single to Adam Kennedy to score him. At 6-6 we were headed to extras.
Closer Troy Percival pitched a scoreless tenth but the real hero here is Al Levine who pitched three innings of scoreless relief, each inning dramatically filled with baserunners. Yikes. Jeff Sparks matched Levine's long outing for two innings but in the bottom of the thirteenth he gave up a leadoff homerun to Tim Salmon on a full count. Final Score: Angels 7 Devil Rays 6.
In his fifteenth game as a big league manager, Mike Scioscia had his first walk off home run. The WOHR was Salmon's fourth, tying him with Jim Fregosi and Leroy Stanton for second most Walk Off Home Runs in Angels history.
The 2000 Angels would score 864 runs, the third most by any Angels team. Of the top five scoring teams in club history, this was the only one that did not make the postseason. They allowed 869 runs and finished the season in third place at 82-80, which was twelve games better than the 1999 club. After the disastrous 1999 season the team cleaned house. General Manager Bill Bavasi was let go as was most of the front office. Interim manager Joe Maddon was one of the few people retained, as a coach, in order to preserve some institutional familiarity. Former Angels pitcher Bill Steoneman was brought in as General Manager and he hired Mike Scioscia as one of his first orders of business.
The story has been told many times of Mike Scioscia's first meeting with the Angels promotional and marketing group. They wanted to know who the star players to build a campaign around were. Scioscia was adamant that the team was here to win and not be a star or two and twenty-some other players. The cynical Angels stadium and promotion management thought Scioscia a fool. But before the three year anniversary of his hiring occurred, Scioscia had a ring.