Opening Day, April 1, 2013 is 65 days away. There have been one hundred walk off homers in Angels history. This is the story of #65, the only Walk Off Home Run in Angels history hit by the son of a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame.
July 31, 1993 - In his career as a starting pitcher, Angels great Chuck Finley dealt with run support in a shockingly consistent manner. In the 138 starts where his offense scored him 0-2 runs, he recorded an ERA of 3.74. In the 171 games where his teammates scored 3-5 runs, he had a career ERA of exactly 3.74 as well.
One of the league-leading 13 complete games that Finley would throw in 1993 took place on July 31, 1993. It looked like it would be a loss for most of the contest to the 29,000+ in attendance at the Big A on Saturday night. Finley gave up a solo homerun to Bernardo Brito to lead of the top of the second inning and a two run homerun to Shane Mack a few batters later. Going into the bottom of the second inning, it was Twins 3, Angels 0. In the bottom of the third, Chad Curtis drove in Gary DiSarcina to make it a 3-1 ballgame. And it stayed that way until the bottom of the eighth, Finley trading scoreless frames with Kevin Tapani.
In the bottom of the eighth, Tapani gave up a two-out single to Luis Polonia to plate DiSar yet again. Tapani finished the eighth and Finley pitched a scoreless ninth. Despite only throwing 100 pitches, Twins manager Tom Kelly brought in closer Rick Aguilera. Tim Salmon hit a double off the closer's first pitch and moved to 3B on a Chili Davis ground out. With the tying run on 3B Aguilera threw his fourth pitch of the inning to rookie Eduardo Perez.
Perez had made his major league debut a few days earlier on the 27th. He had gone two for five with his first major league hit, a double, in the second inning and his first major league home run in the eighth, all part of a 15-8 blowout against the A's. He hit his second career home run in his fifth career major league game.
Perez would go on to a lackluster few seasons, perennially in the shadow of his Hall of Fame father, Tony Perez. The Angels traded him to the Reds before the start of the 1996 season. He signed as a free agent with the Cardinals, Devil Rays and Indians, with a stint in Japan for the Hanshin Tigers in between. In 2006, he was traded by Cleveland to the Mariners for Asdrubal Cabrera. That helped the Angels out.
That second career home run, though, it came on that fourth pitch of the ninth inning in this game and it was a come from behind, walk off blast.
Final Score: Angels 4, Twins 3
Winning Pitcher: Chuck Finley
Hero: Eduardo Perez