Anderson had three singles to tie the franchise mark for career hits and Scott Spiezio hit a bases-loaded triple as the World Series champions rallied to beat Detroit for the 10th straight time, 11-7 Saturday night.
Anderson, who made his big league debut in 1994, tied Brian Downing with 1,588 hits when he beat out an infield single to first baseman Carlos Pena, who made a diving stop near the line and got to the bag a half-step later than Anderson. The All-Star MVP and home run derby champ reached the record in 546 fewer at-bats than Downing.
“Every time you turn around, he’s doing something like that,” said Angels starter Aaron Sele, who was taken off the hook with the help of Anderson’s RBI single during Anaheim’s six-run fifth. “It doesn’t surprise any of us to see him climbing up the all-time Angels list on whatever it is.
“I saw him for a lot of years from the other side of the field, and now I get an inside view of what he’s all about,” Sele said. “He’s a phenomenal talent. I mean, this guy’s been around eight or nine years now, and people really haven’t known about him. But after last year, and then the All-Star game, people are starting to realize on a national level how good a player he really is.”
Anderson’s ascent into the upper echelon of big league hitters doesn’t surprise Hall of Fame manager Sparky Anderson, who had him pegged right from the start when the former Detroit manager was the Angels’ TV analyst in 1995.
“It was like the first time I saw Bobby Bonds in Class-A ball in North Carolina. Garret just had that natural fluid thing about him,” said Anderson, who attended the game. “And when Garret Anderson is done, they’ll look back on the Angels records and say, `Man, wasn’t he something?”’
Detroit is 17-51 since June 1 and 31-90 overall—one win ahead of the 1962 Mets’ record losing pace after 121 games. The Tigers have to go 15-26 the rest of the way just to match last season’s 55-106 record.
Detroit rookie Wilfredo Ledezma (3-7) failed to make it out of the fifth inning—after being staked to a 5-0 lead by an offense that had not scored more than three runs in any of his other seven starts.
The 22-year-old left-hander from Venezuela took a two-hitter and a 5-1 lead into the fifth before walking leadoff batter Adam Riggs. Adam Kennedy followed with his second double of the game and David Eckstein drove in both runners with a single that narrowed the gap to 5-3.
“You look back at the way that inning started—he walked Riggs on four pitches. We shot ourselves in the foot again and we weren’t able to stop the bleeding,” manager Alan Trammell said. “We made some mistakes in the field and gave them many opportunities. That’s what happens when you have a record like this, and that’s why our record is what it is.”
A hit-and-run single by Eric Owens put runners at the corners for Anderson, whose one-out RBI single chased Ledezma. Chris Spurling loaded the bases with a two-out walk to Shawn Wooten, and Spiezio made it 7-5 with a hot smash past Pena that had to be chased down in the right-field corner by Higginson.
Sele allowed five runs, six hits and three walks in 4 1-3 innings. He is 0-3with a 5.10 ERA over his last six starts.
Anaheim tacked on three more runs in the seventh with help from a fielding error by second baseman Warren Morris, who completely missed the perfect throw from reliever Jamie Walker on a potential inning-ending double-play grounder by Wooten. … The Angels’ five-run deficit equaled their biggest in a win this season. Anaheim trailed Seattle 6-1 on April 19 at Edison Field before beating the Mariners 7-6. … The Anaheim-Los Angeles area was formally presented with the Sporting News’ “Best Sports City” award in a pregame ceremony at home plate. Manager Mike Scioscia, GM Bill Stoneman and club executive Kevin Uhlich represented the Angels, joining Tommy Lasorda, Mighty Ducks coach Mike Babcock, former Lakers coach Bill Sharman—and L.A. Kings radio analyst Darryl Evans, whose game-winning goal capped the Kings’“Miracle on Manchester” victory over Edmonton in the 1982 NHL playoffs.