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Archive for Monday, October 28, 2002

Anaheim’s Lackey doesn’t pitch like rookie

October 28, 2002

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— John Lackey looked nothing like a rookie, pitching with poise from the moment he walked to the mound.

World Series. Game 7. No jitters.

Lackey became the first rookie starter to win the seventh game of the Series in 93 years. He shut down Barry Bonds and the San Francisco Giants, leading the Anaheim Angels to their first championship in their 42-year history with a 4-1 victory Sunday night.

While watching from his couch in Texas when Curt Schilling and Roger Clemens dueled in Game 7 last year, Lackey dreamed about making it to the majors. He did more than that he became a champion.

"This is a long way from Salt Lake," Lackey said, referring to the Angels' Triple-A affiliate. "It's not bad. This is where you want to be. Everyone wants to be in the World Series, Game 7."

Manager Mike Scioscia gave Lackey the nod for the biggest game in Angels history in part because Ramon Ortiz was bothered by a sore wrist, and also because of his faith in the right-hander.

Lackey justified that support. He allowed one run and four hits in five innings, walking only one.

"You have to look at what he's all about," Scioscia said. "This guy is not going to rattle, he's not going to be intimidated. ... He did everything we could have asked of him. What a job."

Lackey, who turned 24 when he got a no-decision in Game 4 on Wednesday night, came right at the Giants, throwing strikes and staying calm despite the pressure.

Pitching on three-days' rest, Lackey started with a perfect first inning. He opened the second by retiring Bonds on a lineout.

Lackey intentionally walked Bonds the first four times he faced him this Series but showed no fear this time against baseball's most dangerous hitter.

"It was big to get myself going early. It gave me a lot of confidence," Lackey said. "I was able to come inside with some fastballs early and that set up my pitches away."

Benito Santiago and J.T. Snow followed with singles to put runners on first and third, and Reggie Sanders drove in the first run of the game with a sacrifice fly to left field.

Lackey pitched out of another jam in the fourth when he allowed consecutive singles to Bonds and Santiago with one out. He wasn't flustered, retiring Snow and Sanders on flyouts to preserve a 4-1 lead.

"A big part of it is his makeup," pitching coach Bud Black said. "He's very confident. Obviously, you can't discount experience. But a lot of times, youthful aggressiveness pays off."

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