Figgins made his first start of the season in right field on
Sunday and threw out a runner at home plate before Darin Erstad's
go-ahead RBI double in the eighth inning lifted the Angels to a 3-2
victory over the Detroit Tigers.
"He's arguably right up there with Vladimir Guerrero and Jose
Guillen as our MVP, just because of his versatility," winning
pitcher Scot Shields said. "He's helped me out a couple of times
this year on tough plays."
Figgins hadn't played in the majors on a full-time basis until
this season -- and only because of injuries to third baseman Troy
Glaus and center fielder Garret Anderson. Now they can't get him
out of the lineup because of his offense, defense and speed on the
bases. He's played six positions this year, including left field,
shortstop and second base.
"I think you'd have to give him consideration to be our MVP,
just for that reason," manager Mike Scioscia said. "Not only is
he playing everywhere, he's doing everything we've asked of him.
Figgy loves to play the game. He's fearless and nothing intimidates
Guerrero, who has 10 outfield assists this season, got the day
off. Figgins started in his place and did his best impersonation of
Guerrero -- throwing out Craig Monroe trying to score on a single by
Brandon Inge in the fourth to temporarily keep the Angels ahead
"The ball kind of got tied up in my glove, but I still figured
I had a chance because he hit it hard, and Monroe's not really a
fast runner," Figgins said. "So I just wanted to make a good
throw and have a good chance to get him out at home plate. If I'm
on the field, I'm comfortable no matter where I'm at."
Shields (6-2) pitched two innings of one-hit relief for the
victory, allowing an unearned run. Troy Percival pitched a hitless
ninth for his 23rd save in 28 attempts.
David Eckstein drew a two-out walk in the eighth, then stole
second without a throw when Gold Glove catcher Ivan Rodriguez
couldn't handle a sinker by Jason Johnson that broke sharply at the
last instant. Erstad got his clutch hit on a 1-2 pitch down the
line past first baseman Carlos Pena.
Johnson (8-11) allowed three runs and six hits in eight innings,
striking out three and walking three. The complete game was his
second this season and fifth in 158 career starts.
Anderson committed his second error of the campaign, helping set
up the tying run in the seventh after Shields inherited a 2-1 lead
from Aaron Sele.
Anderson misplayed Nook Logan's leadoff single into two bases,
nonchalantly trying to backhand the ball instead of getting in
front of it as it bounced toward him. Logan advanced to third on
Omar Infante's bunt and scored on Carlos Guillen's dribbler to
third base with the infield in.
Detroit's other run also was unearned, the result of Eckstein's
throwing error to first base on Rondell White's grounder to short
in the second. White reached after Eckstein pulled Erstad off the
bag with a hurried throw, then came around on Pena's double to
Angels second baseman Adam Kennedy, back in the lineup after a
couple of days off, kept Detroit from scoring in the fifth when he
made a diving stop on Dmitri Young's grounder in the hole with two
men on and threw him out to end the inning.
"It's hard to cheat in the hole against a good hitter like him,
so was I just trying to play him honest and I got a decent jump on
the ball," Kennedy said. "The way Johnson was pitching for them,
you had the feeling it was going to be a one-run game, so it was
nice to be able to contribute like that."
The Angels scored a pair of first-inning runs with the help of
Johnson' throwing error. Eckstein walked and Jeff DaVanon hit a
one-out liner that Johnson knocked down with his pitching hand
before throwing it past first base and down the right-field line.
Eckstein scored, and DaVanon continued to third before Anderson
singled him home.
"It got me pretty good around the wrist, but it didn't hurt at
all," Johnson said. "If I would have taken my time and gotten my
feet underneath me, I would have gotten him out. But I pulled
across my body trying to throw it over there and threw it into
Sele, coming off his first loss in eight decisions this season,
allowed an unearned run and six hits in six innings.
The win pulled Anaheim within a percentage point of Boston
and Texas in the AL wild-card race. ... The Angels entered Sunday
with 65 errors, third-fewest in the AL. ... Guerrero is 1-for-12
lifetime against Johnson. ... Johnson's error was the third by a
Detroit pitcher in this series. Jeremy Bonderman committed two
Friday night. ... Anderson, last year's All-Star home run derby
champ, has gone 121 consecutive at-bats without one and has just
one homer in his last 40 games.