Angels, Mariners turn back clock to 1995
It's turn-back-the-clock day in Safeco Field, where the Angels and Seattle Mariners will wear uniforms from 1995 -- that means the last California Angels kits for the visitors -- for Saturday's game.
That was a dark year in Angels history and a franchise-turning year for the Mariners. The Angels led the American League West by 11 games on Aug. 3 before a pair of nine-game losing streaks led to one of baseball's biggest collapses.
The Mariners, 13 games out in early August, surged in September and caught the Angels, forcing a one-game playoff for the division title in the old Kingdome, a game the Mariners, behind ace Randy Johnson and center fielder Ken Griffey Jr., won, 9-1.
There was heavy speculation at the time that the Mariners, who had never been to the playoffs and were in an aging, outdated, ugly, depressing, dungeon-like -- and very, very loud -- facility, were going to move to Tampa Bay.
But they rode the momentum of that comeback and run to the AL championship series to a deal for a new stadium, retractable-roofed Safeco Field, and then remained in Seattle.
The only uniformed personnel remaining from that 1995 team is pitching coach Mike Butcher, who was a reliever on that 1995 club.
"I wasn't involved in that, and most of the guys here weren't, so it's not like we're putting on these uniforms with negative thoughts," said bench coach Ron Roenicke, who is filling in for Manager Mike Scioscia this weekend. "It's a nice-looking uniform, though."
Scioscia returned to Southern California on Saturday morning for his daughter's high school graduation and will miss Saturday's and Sunday's game.
First question to Roenicke in his pregame news conference with reporters Saturday?
"So, who is your closer today?"
Roenicke barely flinched. "No comment," he said, before adding, "Same guy."
That would be the much-maligned left-hander Brian Fuentes, who has somehow held onto his closer's job despite a 5.93 earned run average and several shaky performances.
Roenicke is 5-0 as an interim manager, filling in for three games in 2006, when Scioscia was serving a suspension, and two in 2007, when Scioscia attended his son's high school graduation.
"I just try to keep things the same way they are when Mike is here," Roenicke said. "Mike puts me in charge to run it the way he thinks I should run it. I do it Mike's way."
-- Mike DiGiovanna in Seattle