Adam Kennedy homered seven times in 2002. He nearly halved that in one postseason game


Adam Kennedy had a game to remember in the 2002 ALCS. Photo Credit: Anaheim Angels

Hitting three home runs in a game is something that happens quite frequently in Major League Baseball, 632 times as of today. In the juiced ball era that seemingly has come to a close, it was a weekly occurrence, and it still happens in today's game even without the juiced balls, as Jesse Winker has now done it twice this season. Regardless of the frequency of it, it's still a tremendous feat of power that shouldn't be discounted.


Three home runs in a postseason game is a much rarer feat, happening 11 times. Members of that exclusive club include Babe Ruth (twice), Reggie Jackson and George Brett. Both Jose Altuve and Enrique Hernandez did it in the 2017 postseason and stand as the last two to do it.


One of those players I did not mention is not a player you'd expect to be on this list. Adam Kennedy swatted all of 80 home runs in his career and had multiple home runs in a regular-season game three times, never hitting more than 13 in a season or two in a game.


The 2002 Anaheim Angels can qualify as forgotten World Series winners, so I wouldn't expect you to remember this performance unless you're a fan of the team. This performance happened in a game with a trip to the World Series on the line and was so unexpected that it requires a flashback.


THE SITUATION

Before we get into the game, we have to set up how the teams got here. The Minnesota Twins rode a surprise upset of the 103-win (and Moneyball team) Oakland Athletics in the ALDS, where, despite closer Eddie Guardado allowing a three-run home run to Mark Ellis in the ninth of Game 5 to make it a one-run game, he held on and staked the Twins to a berth in the ALCS for the first time since 1991.


The Angels were also coming off of an upset of the defending American League Champions in the New York Yankees. An eight-run fifth inning against David Wells started with a home run by Shawn Wooten and ended with an RBI double by Bengie Molina put the game in cruise control as the Halos rode it to a 9-5 Game 4 victory, scoring eight runs or more in all four games.


This series has not been much fun for Minnesota. Despite winning the first game thanks to a Corey Koskie RBI double in the fifth, they lost three straight, scoring just five runs in those three games as the Angels scored 15. The Twins hadn't hit a single home run in this series after hitting five against Oakland.


However, this game started exactly how the Twins wanted, picking up two runs in the first two innings. A young David Ortiz drove in Koskie with a double and A.J. Pierzynski contributed an RBI single off Kevin Appier. Starter Joe Mays had scattered a few hits but wove around the first eight batters of the game without trouble.


Enter Adam Kennedy. Kennedy batted .267 with 16 home runs through his first three seasons with both the Cardinals and Angels, including a great rookie campaign in 2000 where he hit 11. He exploded in terms of hitting this season, batting .312/.349/.445 with seven home runs and 52 RBI, setting career-highs in all the slash lines and OPS (.795), contributing 3.4 fWAR. He had a .137 ISO, .361 BABIP and a 111 wRC+. Kennedy played sparingly in the Yankees series, getting just eight at-bats but hitting a two-run homer off Mike Mussina in Game 3, the first of his postseason career, and had a three-hit game then to boot. In his career to date, he hit two home runs in a game twice, once in 2000 and once earlier this season. Against the Twins in this series, he had ten at-bats and was left out of the lineup in game three batting .100.


So what did Kennedy do in his first at-bat? Laced a solo home run to lead off the inning and get the scoring started for Anaheim and get the thunder sticks booming at Edison Field. After Scott Spiezio led off the bottom of the fifth with another homer, it was time for Kennedy to step to the plate again. Mays hung a curveball and Kennedy left no doubt about it, depositing it into the right-field stands to give the Angels their first lead.


While the Twins stormed back against the Angels later in the top of the seventh, a tornado was waiting for a youthful Johan Santana in the bottom half. Spiezio and Molina had consecutive singles and paved the way for Adam Kennedy once more. He blasted another hanging breaking ball into right field, sealing a three-home run day and etching his name into the history books. For good measure, as the Angels tacked on ten runs in that inning, Kennedy had a single later on to go 4-4 with 5 RBI as the Angels sailed to a 13-5 win.


It was the first and only three home run game for Kennedy in his career. He had just one more multi-homer game in his career which came in 2009 for Oakland. Hitting just seven home runs in the regular season, he almost halved that in this game. Further adding to the craziness, he did not homer again in the rest of their run to the World Series AND in the ten postseason games he played for the Angels in 2005, batting .258 with three RBI. For his efforts in that game, he won ALCS MVP and continued to rake into the World Series to further his awesome postseason.


With the way people forget that the Angels won the World Series in 2002, it's easy to also forget Kennedy's performance. He got all of his postseason power out in that game and fueled a run to a World Series championship for the Angels, their first and only in franchise history. The game was truly awesome and deserves to get all the spotlight.


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