Blog Entry

Angels clinch, K-Rod zeroes in on Thigpen

Posted on: September 10, 2008 8:39 pm

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Baseball's first clincher of the summer was an unusual one: The Los Angeles Angels finished their part of it by polishing off the New York Yankees 4-2 Wednesday. Then they retired to their clubhouse to watch the Texas-Seattle game.

For a team clinching so early, the Los Angeles Angels sure had to wait around awhile.

After closer Francisco Rodriguez, appropriately, fanned Hideki Matsui for the game's final out, some 72 minutes later, Seattle outlasted Texas 8-7 and the Angels popped the corks on their fourth AL West title in the past five seasons.

It's the earliest clinch ever in the AL West, and the delayed reaction didn't seem to deflate the instant gratification.

Several hundred eager fans had stayed to watch the Texas-Seattle conclusion on the scoreboard, and moments after it ended, the Angels immediately sprinted out of their clubhouse and onto the field to begin the celebration.

The highlight? Reliever Jose Arredondo somehow commandeering the grounds crew's infield garden hose and drenching teammates before spraying it into the stands to toast the fans. The Anaheim Fire Dept. would have been proud.

"Did you see the water hose, spraying everybody?" outfielder Torii Hunter exclaimed. "That's impressive!"

"It was perfect, man," hitting coach Mickey Hatcher said, agreeing Arredondo gets an 'A' for creativity. "He got some of the fans, too. They loved it!"

Owner Arte Moreno spoke of wanting a "big finish" to gain October home-field advantage -- the Angels currently own baseball's best record and, as such, would have home-field advantage throughout the American League playoffs -- and spoke of needing 11 wins in October to earn World Series rings.

He, like many around the club, thinks this might be the Angels' deepest playoff team.

"Last year we were banged up," he said. "The last few years, we ... didn't have the depth. This year, everybody was saying we have too many outfielders, too many pitchers. But it's such a long season.

"It's a team deal. I'd like to think we're getting close."

While the waiting around for official clinching word was unusual, what wasn't was this: The Angels were steered to the dock Wednesday by Rodriguez, who continued zeroing in on Bobby Thigpen's all-time saves record by scooping up his 56th of the season.

K-Rod, who will become one of the hottest free agents on the market this winter, will tie Thigpen's record 57 with his next save and should easily break the record by season's end. He's currently on pace for 62.

An Angels' official said that Thigpen isn't expected to be on hand when his record falls, but the club has been in contact with him through the Chicago White Sox and some sort of gesture is expected.

"It's almost magical the way things have fallen into place," manager Mike Scioscia said. "He's as consistent as anybody I've seen. He turns the page better than anybody I've been around."

While it finally was a relief to the Angels to have wrapped up the division despite the large lead, it will be a similar feeling for Rodriguez when he finally passes Thigpen.

"I feel like I have 10,000 pounds on my shoulders," he said in Chicago last weekend. "I would like to get it over. ... That would be awesome. To break the record and clinch, take those 10,000 pounds off my shoulder on the same day -- that would be nice."

The Angels beat him to one of those finish lines.

Now, the team that leads the majors in both number of games decided by two runs or fewer (81) and number of victories in those games (54), can enjoy the regular-season conclusion of K-Rod's ride.

"It's a huge accomplishment," says starter John Lackey, who broke in with Rodriguez in the minors and says he once taught the Venezuelan some English words ("not good ones, either.") "It says a great deal about his ability.

"The guy has been fearless since he's been in the league. Whether the leadoff guy gets on or he goes 1-2-3, he gets it done. Maybe he's lost a little velocity over the years, but he still gets it done."

And if the Angels have their way, they'll again provide the World Series stage where Rodriguez first rocketed to national prominence, in 2002 against San Francisco.

"He means a lot to us," Scioscia says. "And, hopefully, he will mean even more."


Since: Jul 24, 2008
Posted on: September 13, 2008 2:12 pm

Angels clinch, K-Rod zeroes in on Thigpen

I'm a Red Sox fan and I have respect for only 1 person on the Angels team and it's K-Rod. He is a great guy that has great intensity. Everybody was crucifying Joba Chamberlain for being too intense personally I think he was modeling his style after K-Rod. He is a true champion no matter if he gets the record or not he is worthy.

Since: Jan 16, 2007
Posted on: September 11, 2008 4:22 pm

Angels clinch, K-Rod zeroes in on Thigpen

I mean I don't personally care for him.  But you have to respect the way he pitches, and the intensity he shows.  I wish more ballplayers would care as much as he does.

Since: Jan 6, 2008
Posted on: September 11, 2008 2:58 pm

Angels clinch, K-Rod zeroes in on Thigpen

This is true, I think Joe Nathan is very underated, but you cant deny that KRod is very good! a decent closer doesnt break Bobby Thigpens saves record!

Since: Mar 26, 2008
Posted on: September 11, 2008 1:55 pm

Angels clinch, K-Rod zeroes in on Thigpen

I'd just like to point out that K-Rod is only about the 5th-best closer in the American League.  I'd rank him behind Rivera, Papelbon, Nathan, and Soria and feel quite comfortable about it.  I don't think it's going to happen but any talk of Frankie for MVP is beyond ludicrous.

Since: Jan 6, 2008
Posted on: September 11, 2008 1:36 pm

Angels clinch, K-Rod zeroes in on Thigpen

Surprise suprise a Sox fan is hating on KROD!? He's just mad because the Rod Sox run is over and Jonathan Papplebon has become human. Everyone knows damn well that they shouldnt have won last years World Series and only did becuase the Rockies had about 3 weeks off between the NLCS and the Series! I used to root for the Red Sox during the Yankees dominace but now, I find myself hoping that the state of Massachusettes floats away from the U.S! Im not an Angels fan, but give credit where credit is due. If this guy were wearinf a Red Sox uniform, you'd be saying that he's a first ballot Hall of Famer inductee! Even if the Red Sox, get into the Playoffs, which they wont because of Tampa Bay (best story in baseball) they sure as heck wont beat the Angels! Congrats Frankie, Ill be there tonight to watch you tie the record!

Since: Jan 29, 2008
Posted on: September 11, 2008 9:33 am

Angels clinch, K-Rod zeroes in on Thigpen

So he shows a little emotion out there, it's actually good to see sometimes. I feel like he doesn't take it to that next level where it gets disgusting (ie. TO). Frankly I am getting tired of people getting their panties in a bunch because somebody is celebrating or a team is running up the score. Here's a unique idea ... STOP BEING A P*SSY, MAN UP AND STOP THEM. You don't see Krod celebrating after a blown save so if your so damn upset about it beat him.

Since: Dec 17, 2006
Posted on: September 11, 2008 9:23 am

Angels clinch, K-Rod zeroes in on Thigpen

I honestly think K-Rod is a breath of fresh air. He's an amazing pitcher and more importantly, you never hear about him in any off-the-field incidents. 

Since: May 8, 2007
Posted on: September 11, 2008 8:50 am

Angels clinch, K-Rod zeroes in on Thigpen

He's got more saves than you.

Since: Feb 1, 2007
Posted on: September 11, 2008 8:41 am

Angels clinch, K-Rod zeroes in on Thigpen

I'm sure all of the opposing players who he shows up on a regular basis are really impressed by his passion for the game.  Mariano has the same passion, but doesn't feel the need to shove it down the opposing players' throats after every successful save attempt.  I'm not saying the guy doesn't have phenomenal stuff, but Jesus, try to feign a little sportsmanship and humility while you're on the mound.  I'm tired of hearing/reading about how everything associated with the Yankees (payroll, fans, players) is obnoxious and overdone; K-Rod's antics are as obnoxious as they come.  The irony is I'll probably be watching him pitch in pinstripes in the next year or two; the only worse scenario would be Manny Ramirez as a Yankee.

Since: Mar 25, 2008
Posted on: September 11, 2008 12:59 am
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