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Wednesday, 16 October, 2002, 22:44 GMT 23:44 UK
Where Angels dare to tread
The Angels have batted well right down the order

This is the team that isn't supposed to be here.

This is the Anaheim Angels, a team that in its first 41 years of existence had never won a post-season series.

Now, in their 42nd season, the Angels have come from nowhere to dominate the American League play-offs and book a date in the World Series with the San Francisco Giants.

This is a team that was picked by most pre-season pundits to be a bottom-of-the-table side and looked ready to fill that role by beginning the season with a 6-14 record.

But the Angels - the 'other team' in Los Angeles, where the immensely popular Dodgers rule the roost - pulled themselves together and fought their way into the post-season.

Closer Troy Percival is the Angels' star pitcher
Relief pitcher Troy Percival is a four-time All Star
At the head of the team is manager Mike Scioscia, himself a former Dodger All-Star catcher, who is a sure thing to win the American League Manager of the Year award.

"It's awesome to play for him," Anaheim shortstop David Eckstein told BBC Sport Online.

"He understands the ins and outs of the game and makes all the right decisions. I think he was the key when we turned it around early in the season."

Scioscia may have righted the ship early in the year, but it is the Anaheim hitters that have carried the team in the post-season.

The Angels have scored five or more runs in seven of their nine play-off games thus far.

In the clinching game of the American League Championship Series against the Twins, the Angels scored 10 runs in a single inning, tying an all-time post-season record.

In other words, the Anaheim bats are hot - very hot.

Of the three Angels at the top of the order, Eckstein has been typically pesky in the lead-off spot, while Darin Erstad is getting on base and scoring runs in bunches.

And Tim Salmon has managed to bat in seven runs while nursing a sore hamstring.

If the top of the order has been good, the middle has been downright superb.

Adam Kennedy hit three homers in the decider against the Twins
Adam Kennedy shone at the bottom of the order
Garret Anderson, Troy Glaus, and Scott Spiezio are all hitting .300 or better in the play-offs, with eight home runs and 23 RBIs between them.

When the Angels have needed a clutch hit, the big bats have gotten for them time and again.

And speaking of clutch hits, even the man at the bottom of the order, Adam Kennedy, has come through.

Second baseman Kennedy hit three home runs in that pivotal final game against the Twins, becoming only the fifth player in post-season history to do so and earning himself ALCS MVP honours in the process.

Hard-throwing

The Anaheim starting pitchers are not exactly household names but have done everything asked of them in the play-offs.

Jarrod Washburn, Kevin Appier, Ramon Ortiz, and John Lackey have performed admirably, but the real star of the Anaheim pitching staff resides in the bullpen.

Closer Troy Percival has been one of the best relief pitchers in baseball for the past seven years.

The intense, hard-throwing Percival is a four-time All-Star and will be the man the Angels call on when the game is on the line.

The Angels were one of seven Major League teams never to have won a pennant.

The quest is finally over after a 42-year chase.

Now a new, much shorter pursuit begins - winning four of the next seven games for the right to call themselves World Series champions.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC Sport's Pam Poole
"This won't be a contest for the purist"
Angels' boss Mike Scioscia:
"We're confident about lining up in any way"
All the news ahead of the 2002 baseball World Series

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