ANAHEIM, Calif. — Mike Scioscia would have been perfectly content to have remained a catching instructor after his All-Star playing career ended, instead of managing a major league team.
Now that he's gotten his 1,000th regular-season victory as manager of the Angels – a 6-5 win over the Cleveland Indians Sunday – he remains as humble and appreciative as the day he first stepped on a big league diamond.
"One thing I've learned is, if you want to manage in this game, you never know where or when your opportunity's going to come," Scioscia said.
"After I was done playing, I just thought I'd like to stay in the game. But I never really thought about managing," he added. "I really liked the instructional component of this game, and I loved to get on the field and teach. And if I never managed, I'd still be doing that because it's a fun part of the game for me."
Erick Aybar hit a go-ahead two-run double in the eighth after a tying infield RBI single by Peter Bourjos. When the game ended, the players surrounded Scioscia near the on-deck circle as he was interviewed on the Angels' telecast. Suddenly, he felt a cold shower of ice water on his head. The culprit was right fielder Torii Hunter.
"I had this planned for a couple of days – have the team stay on the field for support and shield me so that he wouldn't see the Gatorade cooler," Hunter said. "Then we got him like some NFL or college coach. I mean, everybody does the pie-in-the-face, but we wanted to do something different. He was freezing. Then I went to shake his hand, and he started running after me. I said: `You ain't gonna catch me.'"
All of Scioscia's victories have come with the Angels, making him the 23rd manager in major league history to reach 1,000 with one team. He was AL manager of the year in 2009 and 2002, when he guided the club to its only World Series title.
"I'm glad to be a part of such a special occasion for Sosh," Hunter said. "This guy's done a lot of great things in baseball. He's put a lot of great players on the field to help him get a thousand wins, and I'm just happy to be a part of those thousand."
Scioscia's first victory was on April 5, 2000, when the Angels beat Joe Torre's Yankees 12-6. Scioscia's 38-33 regular-season record against Torre made him the only manager with a winning record against Torre's Yankees during the eight-year stretch in which their teams faced each other.
"Sosh is one of the best in the business," said Angels right-hander Dan Haren, who allowed two runs and six hits in 6 2-3 innings and struck out 10 in a no-decision. "I've played for quite a few managers, and it doesn't get any better than him."
Angels batting coach Mickey Hatcher is particularly thrilled about this milestone. He and Scioscia were Los Angeles Dodgers teammates for four years, including the 1988 World championship season, and he has been on the Angels' coaching staff since Scioscia's first season.
"There's no end to how many victories he has left, as long as he wants to manage," Hatcher said. "This guy is Mr. Baseball. This was something that was in his future, no matter how you look at it."
Angels reliever Fernando Rodney (2-1) got credit for the win, despite blowing a 3-2 lead for Haren in the top of the eighth.
Rafael Perez gave up a double to Howie Kendrick in the bottom half and was relieved by Joe Smith (1-1). Rookie Mark Trumbo had an infield single before Bourjos hit a chopper off the plate that Smith fielded and had no play on. Aybar put the Angels back in front with a drive to left-center for two runs.
Rookie closer Jordan Walden gave up one-out doubles to Grady Sizemore and Asdrubal Cabrera in the ninth, but the right-hander struck out Shin-Soo Choo and Santana to get his sixth save.
Fausto Carmona was charged with three runs – all unearned – and eight hits over seven innings and struck out seven.
Trailing 2-0 in the sixth, the Angels grabbed a 3-2 lead with four two-out hits and a fielding error by third baseman Adam Everett on a grounder by Vernon Wells that led to three unearned runs.
Maicer Izturis started the rally with a single and Wells reached when Everett misplayed his grounder toward the hole.
"I just missed it. That's the bottom line," Everett said. "Obviously, it cost us the game. You can't word it any other way."
NOTES: Scioscia's 12 consecutive seasons on the job are more than any current big league manager except Tony La Russa, who has managed in every season since 1979. ... Angels 1B Kendrys Morales, who broke his left ankle jumping on home plate last May 29 while celebrating his game-ending grand slam against Seattle – and hasn't played since then – is going to Vail, Colo., to see a specialist for a second opinion. His rehab has been slower than expected after undergoing surgery in June.