Halo Magic? Angels' Comeback Against M's Could Be Latest in String
Every successful season usually has a few signature moments that come to define a team in one way or another.
The Los Angeles Angels may have had one of those signature games on Sunday against an opponent that has become all too familiar with them in recent years.
On the surface, the Halos' stunning 9-8 win over the Seattle Mariners may just be another walkoff in a regular season that usually ends up with a few of them. However, the team has had a history this decade of turning specific contests against the M's into much more than that.
In 2002, the team was reeling in a big way, starting the season with a 6-14 mark, needing something to right the ship. On April 24th, the offense got untracked and took a 10-4 lead into the eighth inning against the Mariners.
However, Seattle began mounting a rally against Al Levine that looked like it would get ugly in a hurry. A two-run home run by Carlos Guillen cut the lead to 10-6, and Levine was gone following a single by Dan Wilson.
Into the game came veteran reliever Dennis Cook, who got Mark McLemore to ground into a double play and Ichiro to fly out to end the threat.
The Angels turned that game into a stunning hot streak, winning 21 of 24 games and not only getting back into the race, but eventually winning the World Series in seven games against the San Francisco Giants.
In 2007, the Angels found themselves in an unexpected dogfight with the Mariners in the division race, with Seattle trailing Los Angeles by just two games heading into a critical three-game set at Safeco Field.
In the opener of the series, John Lackey tossed a complete game seven-hitter in the Halos' 6-0 win. Seattle would go on to get swept and would never get closer than six games the remainder of the way.
Then this season came, with the Angels and M's squaring off in a mid-April series at Angel Stadium. In the opening game, Joe Saunders was getting crushed by Richie Sexson but still managed to cling to a 5-4 lead heading into the ninth.
Saunders was relieved by Frankie Rodriguez, who was off to a decent start but was making saves much too interesting. K-Rod allowed a single with one out to Adrian Beltre before getting Jose Vidro to setup a confrontation with Sexson.
A grooved fastball by Rodriguez was crushed by Sexson, with the initial reaction from media and fans being one of "oh ^%$#!" However, instead of landing beyond the 405-foot marker in center field, the ball landed in the outstretched glove of Torii Hunter.
The result was a 5-4 win for the Angels, a save for Rodriguez and a 13-3 finish against the Mariners that helped the club win its fourth AL West title in five seasons.
Will Sunday's contest be yet another major moment for the Angels at the expense of the Mariners? It's too early to tell now, but the likelihood is yes.
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