Battery of Marcum and Zaun helps Blue Jays beat Angels 9-2
ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP)—Gregg Zaun wanted to make sure his 1,000th major league game was something special—especially with his parents making the drive down the freeway from his hometown of Glendale.
The Blue Jays’ 36-year-old catcher had two RBIs, scored a run with a headfirst slide and choked off another with a textbook leg block, leading Toronto to a 9-2 victory over the Los Angeles Angels on Saturday night.
Zaun also was robbed of an RBI double his first time up by center fielder Gary Matthews Jr.
“I’m pretty sure that I’ll never make 3,000 hits and won’t be a 500-home run guy, but this is a nice accomplishment,” Zaun said. “It’s some degree of longevity. I’d still like to win one more World Series ring before I retire, and that’s really the only thing I care about.”
Zaun has played for seven teams during his 13-year big league career, winning a championship with the Florida Marlins in 1997. He made his debut as a pinch-runner for the Baltimore Orioles on June 25, 1995.
“A lot of people in my hometown didn’t think I’d even make it to the major leagues—let alone play 13 years—because I was such a little guy when I was growing up,” said Zaun, whose uncle is former catcher and 1983 World Series MVP Rick Dempsey.
“I wanted to be a catcher. I just liked the position. I liked having the gear on. I liked the idea of calling the game, blocking balls, throwing guys at second base, getting run over at the plate. I just got a big kick out of all that stuff. As a kid, my coaches tried to get me to be a middle infielder, and I just wouldn’t hear of it.”
Shaun Marcum (11-5) won for the sixth time in his last seven starts, allowing two runs and eight hits over six innings with two walks and one strikeout. The only blemish during this stretch was last Monday, when he gave up six runs over three innings in a 6-4 loss.
The Blue Jays won for the second time in seven games and moved back above .500, at 65-64. Troy Glaus hit a two-run homer and Frank Thomas had a two-run double during a four-run ninth inning that broke the game open.
The Angels lost for the third time in four games and stayed one game ahead of the Seattle Mariners in the AL West. Joe Saunders (7-2) allowed a season-high five runs and nine hits in 5 1-3 innings, striking out two and walking two.
Toronto grabbed a 5-2 lead with three runs in the sixth. Glaus, Aaron Hill and Zaun hit consecutive doubles and John McDonald drove in the fifth run with a single to left. Zaun just beat the throw from left fielder Reggie Willits, and walked away from home plate with his helmet askew.
Toronto capitalized on Saunders’ only two walks of the game, tying it 2-all in the fourth with Zaun’s bases-loaded sacrifice fly and a two-out broken-bat RBI single by McDonald.
Willits thought he had a tiebreaking RBI single in the bottom half. But Howie Kendrick, trying to advance from first to third on the hit, was tagged by Glaus for the third out before Maicer Izturis touched home plate. Three-time Gold Glove center fielder Vernon Wells got the run-saving assist on the play, his fourth this season and 44th of his career.
“To grab a lead at that point of the game could have made a difference,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “I don’t see how Izzy couldn’t have gotten home in time. It looked on the replay like Izzy pulled up a little bit the last three or four steps and that cost him. That’s a cardinal sin in baseball. It was a play that shouldn’t have happened, and it was obviously a big momentum swing.”
The Angels did not get another baserunner after that play as their final 15 batters went down in order.
“Those were big plays and big momentum changers for us, and they helped me stay in the game,” said Marcum, who retired his final six batters.
The Angels took a 2-0 lead on Orlando Cabrera’s RBI single in the first and Jeff Mathis’ sacrifice fly in the second. Kendry Morales tried to score from first later that inning on Willits’ double off the short fence in the right field corner, but was out on the relay from Alex Rios to second baseman Hill to Zaun—who blocked off Morales with his outstretched leg.
“I have a lot of fun doing that. It’s kind of a lost art,” Zaun said. “I’ve taken a beating a couple of times, but I figure if I have a chance to get between them and the plate and take a licking once in a while, I will—even if the throw is a little late.”
Zaun kept the ball from the final out and the lineup card from the dugout as souvenirs. … Glaus singled in the fourth, ending an 0-for-17 drought he had in Anaheim after leaving the Angels at the end of the 2004 season for free agency. Glaus was the 2002 World Series MVP. … Marcum is 7-2 with a 2.65 ERA on the road, after going 0-4 with a 7.82 ERA away from home last season. … Reed Johnson doubled to right-center on Saunders’ second pitch of the evening, extending Toronto’s streak to 32 consecutive games with a two-base hit and breaking the previous franchise mark set in 2004. The Blue Jays finished the night with seven doubles.