Mike Scioscia took over the top spot on the Angels' all-time managerial victory list Friday night as his team defeated the Chicago White Sox, 5-1, before 44,126. It was Scioscia's 626th win as a Major League manager -- exclusively with the Angels over the past seven-plus seasons.
Scioscia graciously shrugged off the accolade, giving credit to "everybody from Arte [Angels owner Moreno] to Bill [general manager Stoneman]," to former coaches Joe Maddon and Bud Black, now Major League managers in Tampa Bay and San Diego, respectively.
"This has been a lot of fun, very rewarding and hard work," Scioscia said. "I'm proud of our Major League staff, our Minor League staff, our front office and everyone who's helped put these teams on the field."
The team Scioscia put on the field Friday reflected a patch of turbulence in a season that's barely a month old, as veteran Garret Anderson went on the 15-day disabled list before the game, creating the need to put rookie left fielder Reggie Willits in the leadoff spot and regular leadoff man Gary Matthews Jr. in the third spot.
"We need the whole lineup to contribute," Scioscia said. "Having G.A. out creates a void we're going to have to fill."
Right-hander Kelvim Escobar (3-1) got the victory for the Halos, going seven innings while striking out four and walking two. Neither Escobar nor Scioscia was about to put much stock in the absence of injured Jim Thome from the Chicago lineup, along with the anemic hitting that has created a fourth-place standing in the American League Central.
"I know they've been slumping," Escobar said of the Sox, who lost their fifth straight. "But they have a good lineup, and you have to go out and make your pitches."
"They have guys that can drive the ball," Scioscia said. "They're a team you have to make pitches to, and [their slow start] doesn't take anything away from what Kelvim did."
The Angels built a 4-0 lead in the first two innings off right-hander Jose Contreras, who lasted six-plus innings and surrendered six hits while striking out five and walking one. Willits came home on a Matthews sacrifice fly in the first, and the Halos scored three unearned runs in the second with a rally that featured a run-scoring double by Mike Napoli and a two-run single by Orlando Cabrera.
Napoli took some ribbing from Hector Carrasco, who razzed him from across the Angels clubhouse for his unlikely double. The ball sailed high into a tricky, twilit sky, and Sox center fielder Darin Erstad lost track of it.
Ironically, it happened on the same patch of greensward Erstad had so brilliantly patrolled for the Angels over the previous 11 seasons. Certainly, the play did nothing to mar the warm welcome Erstad received when he stepped into the batter's box to begin the game.
"It gets to be an incredibly difficult sky at some point in the evening," Scioscia said. "The ball just disappeared on him. It wasn't an easy play.
"The reception he received was definitely earned. It makes us all feel good when the fans recognize what a great contributor he was to our teams."
Add Erstad to Scioscia's thank-you list for the 626 victories.
The White Sox run scored in the third when Jermaine Dye doubled home Tadahito Iguchi from first on a drive that barely missed clearing the short porch in left field.
For the next four innings, Escobar kept the Sox in check, giving up a single in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings and a walk in the seventh. In that span, he faced 15 batters, none of whom got farther than first.
The Angels made it 5-1 in the eighth when Kotchman's single off Boone Logan, the Sox third reliever of the evening, scored Matthews from third.
Scot Shields faced the minimum number of batters in the eighth and ninth, striking out four and handing the game ball to Scioscia after freezing Rob Mackowiak on a called third strike to end the game.
Ted Brock is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less