Angels 6, Rangers 5
ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP)—Tim Salmon has four games left to get his 300th career home run before he retires. His teammates desperately want to see it happen, and so does Los Angeles Angels manager Mike Scioscia. It’s the only thing the team has left to play for this season.
All week long, the video board at Angel Stadium has been replaying some of the most memorable homers by the franchise’s all-time home run leader. On Wednesday night, he hit No. 299 in a 6-5 victory over the Texas Rangers, leaving him one shy of the milestone.
“That was a lot of fun. That’s my understatement of the year,” Salmon said with a laugh. “My head is spinning a lot right now. It’s kind of a `Did that really happen?’ kind of thing.”
One night after the Angels were mathematically eliminated from playoff contention, Salmon started as the designated hitter and batted third. The 15-year veteran, who was able to squeeze one more season out of a 38-year-old body that was racked by severe knee and shoulder injuries last year, got a standing ovation when he walked to the plate in the first inning and didn’t disappoint the crowd of 38,032.
“The whole year, from spring training on, the fans have really gone way beyond what anybody could imagine to show their appreciation,” Salmon said. “Hitting a home run like that, that’s one way to give it back.”
Salmon drove an 0-1 pitch into the first row of seats above the 18-foot-high wall in right-center for his ninth homer of the season after a leadoff walk to Maicer Izturis and a single by Reggie Willits.
“For him to hit a ball that far to the opposite field, we haven’t seen that in a while from Fish. He crushed it,” Scioscia said. “It was fun to watch. He was just kind of giggling like a little kid when he came back to the dugout.”
Salmon has hit more home runs than any active player who has never made it to an All-Star game. The all-time record in that department is 301, by Rogers Hornsby.
“It would be nice to see him reach that milestone,” Scioscia said. “He’s done about everything else he can in this game, and he’s going to be remembered as one of the all-time great Angels. We’ve been blessed that he’s played so well and for so long. It would be nice if he could cap it off with one more. But whether he ends up with 299 or 300, his career has been terrific.”
Rangers right-hander Adam Eaton had mixed feelings about giving up the home run, considering who hit it.
“He’s got 15 years here in Anaheim, so I took some time walking off the back of the mound so the crowd could give him the ovation,” Eaton said. “I threw a fastball away, but it came back over the plate and he crushed it. Looking back, I’m happy for him in one respect, but I wish it wasn’t against me or the Rangers.”
Salmon went 2-for-4 in his final game against Texas. He batted .353 (200-for-567) lifetime against the Rangers with 35 homers and 119 RBIs—his best numbers against any opponent.
“I have a lot of respect for Tim Salmon,” said Texas’ Mark Teixeira, who homered twice and drove in five runs. “As an opponent, you don’t want him to get too many hits against you, but I love to see a guy like that have success the last couple of games of his career.”
Howie Kendrick drove in the go-ahead run in the seventh inning with a double to make sure his teammate’s three-run homer in the first inning wouldn’t go to waste.
Brendan Donnelly (6-0) pitched 1 1-3 perfect innings for the win after relieving rookie Jered Weaver, who allowed five runs and 10 hits over 6 2-3 innings in his 19th and final start of the season. He finished 11-2 with a 2.56 ERA.
Garret Anderson’s RBI-single gave the Angels a 5-3 lead. But Gary Matthews Jr. led off with a single and Teixeira tied the score for the second time, driving a 1-1 pitch to right field for his 32nd homer and 23rd since the All-Star break.
Teixeira pulled Texas even at 3-all in the fifth with a three-run shot.
Matthews scored his 102nd run, breaking Oddibe McDowell’s club record for leadoff hitters. Matthews’ 79 RBIs and 306 total bases also are the most by any Rangers leadoff man. … Teixeira has 139 career homers, the fourth-most by a player in his first four seasons. The only players with more are Albert Pujols and Hall of Famers Ralph Kiner and Eddie Mathews.