The AL West leaders lost the third key member of their lineup Friday night when Erstad strained his right hamstring trying to score a run in the third inning of the Angels’ 7-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.
“It looks pretty bad,” manager Mike Scioscia said. “We’re going to see how it responds, but right now it looks like he’ll go on the disabled list. When Ersty goes down like that, you know it’s something serious. He’s such a gamer, it breaks your heart to see something like that.”
Center fielder Garret Anderson is out with a back problem, and designated hitter Tim Salmon isn’t expected to return for at least another 10 days because of a sore knee. Now first baseman Erstad is expected to be out indefinitely.
“There’s no doubt that we need Ersty, we need Tim Salmon and we need Garret Anderson in our lineup to go where we need to go,” said utility player Shane Halter, who capped a five-run seventh with a pinch-hit grand slam.
“It’s unfortunate, because those guys are our horses,” Halter added. “But good teams have good benches, and our bench is picking us up right now. We’ve got a couple of guys down, so we’re trying to do what we can to help our team win.”
Robb Quinlan, who replaced Erstad, triggered the five-run rally with a one-out single and scored the go-ahead run on Vladimir Guerrero’s second RBI double of the game against Paul Abbott (2-4). Halter greeted Trever Miller with his second grand slam and the first by an Angels pinch-hitter since Mark Ryal’s shot off Texas’ Dale Mohorcic on Sept. 10, 1987.
“The depth of our club has been tested and these guys have responded very well,” Scioscia said. “It’s tough to replace some of those guys who are out long-term, but our depth has been very evident all season.”
Bartolo Colon (4-2) allowed two hits over seven innings, helping the Angels extend their winning streak to eight and record their 14th victory in 17 games.
Tampa Bay’s club-record-tying eight-game errorless streak ended in the second when starting pitcher Paul Abbott dropped a throw from Tino Martinez while covering first.
Erstad, who was safe on the error, tried to score on Glaus’ single to left. Erstad pulled up lame about 25 feet past third base, grabbed his hamstring and hopped the rest of the way home—only to be tagged out by catcher Brook Fordyce.
Erstad, back in the lineup after his first day off this season, buried his face in his left hand as he was helped to the dugout. Last season, he was limited to 67 games because of tendinitis in that same right hamstring.
“The first indication is that it’s not anywhere near that area, so this could not be related at all to what we saw last year,” Scioscia said. “We’ll have an announcement tomorrow as they get some more info on it. I know there are going to be some tests done here in the next couple of days.”
Colon improved to 6-0 for his career against the Devil Rays, allowing two runs while striking out three and walking two. The right-hander did not allow a hit after giving up a leadoff homer in the second to Jose Cruz Jr. Kevin Gregg pitched two innings to complete the three-hitter.
Abbott allowed five runs—two earned—and eight hits in 6 1-3 innings and lost his third straight start.
Colon hit Tino Martinez in the back with his first pitch of the fourth inning, an inning after Guerrero was hit by a pitch.
Plate umpire Eric Cooper immediately warned both dugouts that retaliatory actions would not be tolerated. Devil Rays manager Lou Piniella came out to argue that Colon should have been ejected on the spot, but crew chief Mike Reilly came over from first base to calm Piniella down.
“The umpire did not handle the situation right. He should have been kicked out of the ballgame,” Piniella said. “He hits a batter intentionally, the umpire knew he hit him intentionally, and his job is to kick him out of the ballgame—period. Some of them will, some of them won’t. But why issue awarning if you know it’s intentional?”
The switch-hitting Cruz needs seven more home runs to equal his father’s major league career total of 165. … Colon had hit only one batter in 37 innings in his other six starts this season. Abbott had not plunked any in his other five starts, spanning 28 2-3 innings. … The Devil Rays got only one hit after Cruz’s homer. Friday night they got only one hit over the final 6 1-3innings against John Lackey, who beat them 1-0 with a three-hitter.