ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP)—The fans gave Tigers closer Troy Percival a standing ovation after a video tribute to him early in the game. In the ninth inning, the crowd was on its feet again, roaring as Francisco Rodriguez got the final out for the Los Angeles Angels.
Percival didn’t get in the game, his first back in the ballpark where he starred for a decade. He watched from the bullpen as his replacement as the Angels’ closer finished Friday night’s 4-3 victory over Detroit.
“There’s a lot of emotion when a guy like Percy comes back to the place that was his arena for so long,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “But I’m sure Frankie (Rodriguez) was just thinking about getting the Tigers out.”
Rodriguez walked one batter, struck out another and got two groundball outs in the ninth for his eighth save in nine chances. He spoke with Percival before and during the game.
“It was good to chat with him. It (the tribute) was nice. He’s got a lot of fans here, a lot of people love him,” Rodriguez said.
Percival said before the game he’s not surprised Rodriguez is off to such a good start in his first year as the Angels’ closer.
“He’s got great stuff and he’s got great makeup for closing. So I expected it,” said Percival, who holds the Angels record of 316 saves. “It wasn’t as though they didn’t think I could do the job anymore.
“They had somebody who could do the job admirably.”
Escobar (1-1), making his third start of the season, gave up three runs and six hits, struck out five and walked two. He missed the opening three weeks because of an elbow sprain.
The Angels, who have won 22 of their last 25 games against Detroit, were ahead 4-1 before Carlos Guillen’s RBI double with one out in the eighth. Scot Shields relieved, and Detroit added another run on Dmitri Young’s RBI double. Shields then struck out Marcus Thames and retired Ramon Martinez on a groundout.
Finley broke a 1-1 tie in the fourth inning with a two-run triple down the right-field line against Wilfredo Ledezma (1-3), then hit an RBI double off Ledezma in the sixth.
Ledezma gave up four runs and seven hits in 5 1-3 innings as Detroit lost its fourth straight.
“It’s another tough loss,” Detroit manager Alan Trammell said. “Offensively, we’re just not getting it done.
“But what are you going to do—close up shop after 28 games? You’ve got to keep going and somehow find a way to get the win and stop the bleeding.”
Percival responded to his standing ovation by stepping out of the Tigers’ dugout and doffing his cap to the sellout crowd of 44,042, the largest in the regular season since the ballpark was reconfigured before the 1997 season.
He signed a two-year, $12 million free agent contract with Detroit last November.
Thames, starting in right field in place of the injured Craig Monroe, tied it 1-1 in the second inning with a solo homer.
Ledezma rushed off the mound, but apparently thought the ball was going to roll foul, so he didn’t touch it as Anderson ran past him. Ledezma and catcher Ivan Rodriguez then hovered over the ball as it slowly came to a stop, still inside the line.
By then, Figgins was nearly home, with no one covering the plate. Ledezma swatted the ball with his glove in frustration.
Monroe, who left Wednesday night’s game against Boston in the seventh inning with a mild groin strain, was a late scratch due to the same injury. … Anderson singled his first two times up, and with 2,864 total bases set the Angels club record. He moved one ahead of Tim Salmon, who has missed the team’s last 66 games because of injuries to his left shoulder and left knee that required offseason surgery. Salmon isn’t expected back until September at the earliest.