Opening Day (April 1, 2013) is 85 days away. We are counting down the 100 Walk Off Home Runs in Angels franchise history. Today we look at #85...
July 31, 2004 - Not only did Jose Guillen hit a come form behind extra inning walk off home run to win this game in the eleventh, he was a giant part of the offense in this game, going five for six with four RBI and two runs scored. You would have thought that he had forever earned his Angels wings that Saturday afternoon.
Consider the case of Jose Guillen. Mike Scioscia had him suspended for insubordination with a week left to play in the season. He threw his helmet into the dugout upon being removed for a pinch hitter. It was not his first outburst but it was pretty public and, in the thick of a pennant chase, Scioscia stood up to show it was his club. He had the support of a team who had grown tired of the angry free agent.
The Angels won the division in dramatic fashion over the week in which Guillen was suspended. They were swept in three games by the Wild Card Red Sox in the ALDS and really could have used Guillen's bat in the middle of the order in those games. At the time of the suspension Mike Scioscia was at the height of his approval. 2002 was fresh in everyone's mind and with the new ownership making a splash in signing free agents and getting a pennant race, Scioscia was advertised as omnipotent and had no critics anywhere. The fans of other teams were at worst mute in their recognition in his mastery of the game, a mastery which time revealed to be a few good hot streaks founded in situational hitting and solid bullpens.
While Guillen was insufferable, it is quite imaginable where he might have been better manged in the clubhouse earlier, or as the season went along, in order to avoid these types of outbursts. While coddling a star player has never been a Scioscia style, let's all agree that his hardline against Guillen was one of many things that helped break Boston's curse.
The fruits of the Guillen suspension were supposed to be a better clubhouse and an environment of leadership where free agents would prefer signing in Anaheim but those are so tough to quantify and probably never manifested.
The Angels were down 5-0 before their half of the third inning, but in the sixth, a Guillen base hit off of Mariners reliever Scott Atchison tied the game at 6-6. The Angels would later take the lead and lose it in the ninth off of an Ichiro Suzuki homerun to lead off the ninth inning against Troy Percival.
Brendan Donnelly was in his second inning of relief when he allowed an RBI single to Bret Boone in the top of the eleventh. Going into the bottom of the frame down 8-7, M's closer Eddie Guardado took the mound. He gave up a single to Curtis Pride after a six pitch full count at bat. Pride, one of the few deaf players in baseball history, was a sub in the game - Vladimir Guerrero had been thrown out at home in the sixth inning for the second out on waht would have been the tying run.
Instead of tying the game, though, Guillen blasted Guardado's second pitch into the LF bullpen, and on this day, he would not be so hated, and perhaps never should have been. FInal Score: Angels 9, Mariners 8