- The Washington Times - Monday, October 14, 2002

ANAHEIM, Calif. Halo-lujah! The Angels are finally going to the World Series.
Minutes after they had squandered another postseason lead, bringing out all those painful playoff memories, Adam Kennedy broke out the biggest thunder stick of all.
Kennedy's third homer of the game put Anaheim ahead in a 10-run seventh inning yesterday, and the Angels humiliated the Minnesota Twins 13-5 to win the American League Championship Series in five games.
"It's like we're paving a new road here," said Tim Salmon, who's been with the Angels since 1992. "I think this has put to rest a lot of that pain in the past."
The Angels will open their first World Series at home Saturday against either San Francisco or St. Louis. Hollywood actor Gene Autry, the "Singing Cowboy" turned baseball owner who died in 1998, never got to fulfill his dream of watching his team win a pennant.
"You know about Mr. Autry, and I know he's smiling up there," Salmon said.
A picture of Autry was hanging throughout the weekend on a banner behind home plate.
"This was a goal of Gene's all of his life in baseball, and the fact that he's not here to see it personally, I know he's watching it from somewhere," said his widow, Jackie, who gave the AL trophy to manager Mike Scioscia in her role as honorary league president.
"His inspiration is what really drove this team," she said. "Guys like Tim Salmon and Troy Percival and the other young men on this ballclub who knew Gene Autry wanted to get it done."
Kennedy's final homer, a three-run drive off Johan Santana, erased a 5-3 deficit and made him just the fifth player to homer three times in a postseason game.
"Oh, man. This is tremendous," said Kennedy, the series MVP. "We worked hard the last few years to bring it all together and we finally got it done."
Anaheim, which joined the major leagues in 1961, blew past the New York Yankees to win its first-round series 3-1, then embarrassed the Twins in a seventh inning that saw 15 batters come to the plate against Santana, J.C. Romero, LaTroy Hawkins and Bob Wells.
The 10-run inning tied the postseason record, as did six consecutive hits.
"They're on a roll," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "Those guys, they just keep playing. And they keep swinging. Goodness gracious, I don't know if I've ever seen an inning like that. We couldn't get anybody out. They were hitting balls through holes, over bullets."
Anaheim had been one of only seven major league franchises without a pennant.
"It's the biggest game of my life," said Kennedy, who has 23 regular-season homers in four major league seasons and four in this year's playoffs. "I'm going to enjoy this for a while and then get back to work."
Twice before, the Angels had been one victory from the World Series but failed to make it. They lost three straight games to Milwaukee in 1982 and three in a row to Boston four years later, when they were one strike away before Dave Henderson's home run off Donnie Moore.
"Everybody is making a big deal of the 1982 and 1986 teams. We had nothing to do with that," said Scott Spiezio, who had three hits and three RBI.
When David Eckstein caught the final out just as he did in the division series he ran over to Kennedy and tapped gloves, then danced with Salmon.
The Angels jumped on each other in a mob between first base and the mound. Fans cheered as Salmon, the team's senior member, ran around with the AL championship trophy. Percival, in his undershirt, joined teammates for a lap around the field.
"I think there is some portion of relief with some of the guys that have been through the wars here," Scioscia said.
After losing Tuesday's opener at the Metrodome, the wild-card Angels won four in a row. And they did it against one of baseball's great survivors.
Anticipating their team finally would ascend to the Series, some fans showed up dressed as angels, complete with wings. Others held their rally monkeys and, fittingly, the pitcher who started the game that put the team in the World Series is called "Ape" by his teammates Kevin Appier.
Through it all, they pounded together their ThunderStix, long red plastic batons that read "The Halos Are Back" and filled Edison Field with a steady drumbeat.
The Twins, who made the playoffs after surviving the attempt by baseball owners to fold them, had won six straight postseason games when facing elimination, including two in the first round against Oakland.


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